Will Act 355 revision move gain traction?

comments     Stephen Ng     Published     Updated

COMMENT Tomorrow, PAS is going to gather its members in a massive show of support for the revision of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).

I believe the attempt is merely to blur the line between PAS and Umno, so that in the coming elections, the PAS grassroots will support Umno instead of Pakatan Harapan.

Whether the amendments to Act 355 will be passed in Parliament or not is not that important to both PAS and Umno.

To me, this is nothing but Barisan Nasional’s attempt to split the people over a controversial issue and distract everyone away from the major scandal involving the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, so that it can continue to divide and rule the nation for the next 50 years.

However, I doubt that the Act 355 amendments would even be passed by Parliament, although it would have caused a split in the opposition.

The Islamist party’s president, Abdul HadiAwang, should by now realise that he has been ‘deceived’. He has yet to realise how Umno is cunning in playing up the hudud issue to its own advantage.

Allowing the Act 355 amendments to be passed by Parliament will further weaken the support base of MCA, Gerakan and MIC in peninsula Malaysia.

On the contrary, what the BN would like to see is that it will further strengthen the support of Sarawakians towards the state government as its Chief Minister, Abang Johari Openg, has declared that Sarawak would not support Act 355. I wonder if this is all part of a script as the entire scenario unfolds.

Assuming that the revision to Act 355 is being passed by Parliament, it would mean that the Muslims who are found guilty could be sentenced up to a maximum of RM100,000 fine, a maximum of 30 years’ jail sentence and 100 lashes, compared to the present maximum RM5,000 fine, maximum three years jail sentence and six lashes.

The ones who suffer are the ordinary Muslims, not the corrupt politicians. These are the ones who will be used as pawns to advance the politicians’ dreams of staying in power.

Najib playing with fire

According to former Court of Appeal judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, the proposed amendments to Act 355could give rise “to potential abuse through greater discrepancies in punishments meted out by syariah courts throughout Malaysia.”

Mohamad Ariff said that the upper limits proposed by Hadi are “still too high”. In his lecture recently at Universiti Malaya, the former judge argued against the necessity to introduce the higher limits, when punishment for other laws against corruption remains unchanged.

Another former civil servant, Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said that instead of supporting amendments to Act 355, Najib should focus on solving the country’s weak economy. “The rapid depreciation of the Malaysian ringgit,” he argued, “is the reason for a higher inflation and escalating cost of living that will ultimately hit the Malays below the belt.”

Mohd Sheriff also pointed to the poor governance involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, saying that the value of the ringgit would not appreciate or the investors’ confidence would not return to the country as long as the 1MDB scandal is not solved.

The prime minister’s support of the Act 355 amendments would further weaken investors’ confidence in the country. “Act 355 will further destroy the social fabrics of this country, and raise anxiety amongst its people about the future of the country,” he warned.

“When the citizens of this country no longer have confidence in the future of Malaysia, the country’s economy will be further weakened and the rakyat will suffer because the country’s leaders are playing with fire when they use the religious cards in politics.”

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