Non-Muslims are invited to a public dialogue with PAS on the proposed Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) in Penang on Feb 25.
The dialogue will be at the Penang YMCA, from 8pm to 11pm, and will be attended by PAS central working committee member and Kelantan executive councillor Fadzli Hassan, and Kelantan-Federal Hudud Technical committee member Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani.
The event is organised by a Penangite and retired medical doctor, Dr Ronnie Ooi, in his own personal capacity.
Ooi is an "inactive" member of Gerakan. In 1978, he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Tanjung seat in Penang.
He believes that one must oppose Act 355 as a “critical friend and not as an enemy”.
“The act is very alien to us, non-Muslims. We view it with anger and fear but anger provides no solutions,” Ooi told a press conference today.
He was accompanied by several PAS leaders including Ahmad Jailani, Penang PAS Dakwah bureau chief Amir Hamzah Abdul Hashim, civil and syarie lawyer Khairul Kamal Razali, and state PAS inter-faith committee chief Abdul Rahman Kassim.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabled the bill in Parliament, and it is expected to be debated and passed in the coming sitting in March.
“We need to find out the full details of Hadi’s proposal and tell PAS our fears and objections to their faces,” Ooi (photo) said.
He believes people should not let the issue split the country into Muslims and non-Muslims “who do not speak to each other”.
Ooi said opposing hudud does not mean not being able to work with PAS on issues like corruption in government.
DAP and PAS were split over Hadi’s tabling of the bill in 2015, and this led to the death of Pakatan Rakyat and the forming of Pakatan Harapan, with PAS splinter, Parti Amanah Negara.
Promote peace and harmony
Ahmad Jailani welcomed all non-Muslims to attend the event, saying the party wants to promote “peace and harmony”.
“Whichever religion, whether Christians, Buddhists or Hindus want to be allowed to practice their own religion. It is the same with us, we want to be able to practice what is in our holy book,” he said.
Ahmad Jailani said the amendments to Hadi’s bill will be explained during the forum.
For example, Hadi’s bill to amend Act 355 only allows syariah courts to impose fines, prison sentences and whippings and does not permit amputation of limbs for theft or stoning to death for adultery.
It does however permits for three hudud offences, namely 100 lashes for adultery, 80 lashes for qasaf (false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse) and 40-80 lashes for alcohol drinking.
Offences such as theft, murder, drug trafficking, dangerous driving are left untouched by Hadi’s bill.
The present constitutional arrangement where there is a criminal justice system for all and a separate syariah system for Islamic offences are maintained.
“The vast majority of people will not be affected by Hadi’s bill,” said Ooi, who is the former chair of the Penang branch of the Malaysian Youth Council.
“Hadi’s bill does allow for punishment for present Muslim offences, such as khalwat (close proximity), not fasting during the holy month, to be increased.
“But such increases can only be realised through the state assemblies; thus the creation of Muslim offences and the appropriate punishment are under democratic control,” Ooi added.- Mkini