Malaysiakini News

An open letter to all Members of Parliament

Zaid Ibrahim  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT I am writing to you on the amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang proposes to table in this sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

I know we are all busy with the aftermath of Bersih, and the arrest of our friends, but please read on. Today, there will be a special briefing for Muslim MPs on the Act 355. In other words, while you are busy with Bersih, they will slip in hudud. That’s why the non Muslims MPs are not important.

I hear that Hadi’s bill will be moved on Nov 24. I may be wrong but that’s what I heard. I know PAS and Umno MPs will just follow their leaders - as they always do - blindly and without dwelling on the consequences of their actions, but the rest of you can still defeat the Hudud Bill if you want to.

I respectfully ask that you consider the following:

1. This bill will cause grave and untold suffering to Malays/ Muslims, who may include your sons, daughters and grandchildren. This is not just about adding a few more strokes of the rotan, as your prime minister would like CNN to believe. He is not telling you the truth.

This amendment could mean the amputation of limbs, long-term jail sentences and a more liberal use of the cane. The prime minister cannot even say in what manner this caning will be done. He has not visited any of the syariah courts to witness either the procedure for amputation or caning for himself. He and his family will probably never have to appear in the syariah court, so he does not care.

2. You are not told that with the bill, jail sentences can be imposed without any limitations. You may not think one of your grandchildren may be mistakenly charged in court for stealing a bicycle, but should such mistakes happen, what makes you think they will not have to serve a jail sentence or have a limb amputated? Do you want to take that risk?

Let’s look at the way justice is meted out at present. Let’s remove the label “Islamic” and really see the way justice is administered in the syariah courts now. There are thousands of Muslim women who have been waiting for years for their divorce to be finalised, or for the courts to decide on their rights to maintenance or custody. Do you think these same courts have shown that they are ready to receive more powers to impose heavier punishments, just because someone like Hadi calls it Islamic law?

They do not tell not tell you how many investigation officers will be available at the syariah courts or where they will be trained. They do not tell you how many prosecution officers are ready to take up these cases. They do not tell you about the qualifications and ability of the syariah prosecutors and judges, who will become more powerful under this amendment to Act 355...

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