KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) urged all Malaysians today to speak up on a private member’s Bill intending to enhance the Shariah courts' powers, insisting that it would bring “grave consequences” on everyone.
The Christian umbrella group said the proposed amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 would affect the fundamental principles of justice, freedoms and rights of all Malaysians.
“As such, they must be thoroughly and responsibly discussed openly and honestly. This has not happened,” CFM chairman Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng said in a statement here.
“The amendments proposed by Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill should no longer be solely in the domain of Muslims alone or a compulsive duty by Muslims as asserted by the PAS president, even to the extent of claiming this small element of the Shariah as ‘Divine Law’ which it is not.”
The group, which represents over 90 per cent of churches here, said the amendments should only be initiated by Putrajaya after a thorough study of its impact and gravity on Malaysians.
Together with the statement, CFM included a comprehensive fact sheet on the law also called Act 355, and its ramifications on non-Muslims.
In it, the CFM executive committee called on all MPs and Senators to not approve any version of the proposed amendments to the Act, while all Malaysians were urged to lobby their MPs on the matter.
Earlier today, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism made the same call, stressing that the Federal Constitution was secular and pointing out that Malaysia’s first three prime ministers stated that the country was a secular one.
Hadi’s private member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, informally known as RUU355, has been listed on the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper for Tuesday.
Last November 24, Hadi read out a motion to amend his Bill by inserting the punishment caps of 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine, and 100 lashes. Shariah courts’ sentencing powers are currently limited to three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.