KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 ― G25 criticised today PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's Bill to expand the range of punishments the Shariah courts can impose, saying hudud law is inappropriate in secular Malaysia.

The group of retired Malay senior civil servants also said the hudud Bill passed in Kelantan last year but has yet to be enforced, was unconstitutional as it violates Article 8 on equality before the law.

It pointed out that Muslims in the state governed by PAS would be subjected to two sets of laws: the Islamic and civil Penal Codes.

“We, in G25, categorically oppose Hadi's Bill and the Kelantan hudud Bill of 2015,” said G25 in a statement.

“Although Article 3 of the Federal Constitution declares that Islam is the religion of the Federation, still, constitutionally, Malaysia is a secular state, as our forefathers and the framers of the Federal Constitution had intended. Further, our nation is multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-cultural,” it added.

Hadi’s private member’s Bill tabled in Parliament last week seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to empower Shariah courts to enforce punishments ― except for the death penalty ― provided in Shariah laws for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution, without elaborating on the nature of the punishments.

Shariah court punishments are currently limited to jail terms not exceeding three years, or whipping of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.

G25 said it was not convinced by Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that Hadi’s Bill was not about implementing hudud.

They noted that by implication, the Bill allows Shariah courts to impose “any form of hudud punishment” other than the death penalty, for example 100 lashes of whipping for Muslims found guilty of adultery, or the amputation of one’s hand for theft.

The group noted that the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) Bill 2015 prescribes  hudud punishments for offences like adultery, theft, robbery, sodomy, consumption of liquor and apostasy, but it has yet to be enforced due to the limits in the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.

“Therefore, there is the need for the state of Kelantan to seek Parliament to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1995. And, so, here comes Hadi’s Bill,” said G25.

The pro-moderation group expressed fear that if Hadi’s Bill were to be passed by Parliament, it would open the floodgates for other states to introduce the Islamic criminal law.

“The Bill, therefore, has long-term and far-reaching implications,” said G25.

“We urge the state government of Kelantan to focus on improving the lives of the people of Kelantan, the poorest state in Peninsular Malaysia with the highest incidence of social ills, rather than being obsessed with hudud. Surely, the State Government of Kelantan needs no reminding that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the pious Caliphs who succeeded him had always emphasized the people’s welfare instead of a punitive approach to governing,” it added.

The group of retired prominent civil servants also told the government to focus on good governance, instead of “playing dangerous politics with hudud”.