PETALING JAYA: The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) has joined with leaders from Sabah and Sarawak to reject Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, or RUU355.
In a statement on Tuesday, Proham said the proposed Bill is “unconstitutional” as the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution clearly provides that “criminal justice should be administered by the civil courts while allowing the states only to create and punish offences where persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion".
"Therefore, the state has no authority to include offences under the Penal Code in the proposed RUU 355 as that is strictly within the purview of the Federal Government," said Proham chairman Datuk Kuthubal Zaman Bukhari.
Kuthubal said Article 75 of the Federal Constitution states that if any state law is inconsistent with Federal law, the Federal law shall prevail and the state law shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency.
The new punishments proposed by the PAS president are 30 years in prison, a RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.
Kuthubal said with the proposed increase in sentences, it will make those sentenced under the Syariah law face harsher punishments in some circumstances than what is provided for under the Penal Code.
"Hence, it is contrary to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution whereby all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law," he said.
Kuthubal added that the Federal Constitution is secular in nature and urged Members of Parliament to reject the Bill and maintain the fabric of the Constitution.
“Proham urges the Members of Parliament from both political divides to maintain the fabric of our Constitution as it is and to ensure that the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is upheld and respected,” said Kuthubal.
On Sunday, prominent leaders in Sabah and Sarawak refuted claims that amendments to the Bill will not affect non-Malays and Muslims in the two states.
In an open letter, the leaders urged the people to preserve the country as a secular state and to reject Abdul Hadi’s Bill to amend RUU355.
The letter was signed by 20 leaders including politicians, former civil servants and the G25 group of eminent Malays.
It was also endorsed by former Sarawak state secretary Tan Sri Hamid Bugo, former mayor of Kuching North Datuk Yusoff Haniff and G25.
The letter, which was made available in four languages - English, Malay, Kadazandusun and Iban - noted that Malaysia was founded together with Sabah and Sarawak as a secular federation, in which Islam as the “religion of the Federation” only played a ceremonial role.