Non-Muslims have right to debate Shariah Bill too, says Anwar

In an interview, the PKR de facto leader said that advocates of the Bill should not dismiss the concerns of those who are wary of the amendment, especially non-Muslims. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
In an interview, the PKR de facto leader said that advocates of the Bill should not dismiss the concerns of those who are wary of the amendment, especially non-Muslims. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — All Malaysians have the right to debate laws that could potentially affect them, including the proposed amendment to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 355, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In an interview with The Star, the PKR de facto leader said that advocates of the Bill should not dismiss the concerns of those who are wary of the amendment, especially non-Muslims.

“They speak as if we are all in Islam and that’s it; nobody else should bother.

“They (non-Muslims) have a right to bother,” he told The Star.

“Any legislation, though it seems to purely affect only Muslims, will inevitably affect non-Muslims, therefore they have every right to participate.”

He was also quoted in the article as saying the fear that gripped many in the mooting of such Bills that may affect them could be likened to a Trojan Horse virus even if the issue was minor to Muslims.

“Their fear is that it will be like a Trojan Horse. We have to navigate and weigh these issues well,” Anwar told the English daily when asked for his thoughts on how differences in religion and opinion should be addressed.

He also explained that it was important for all quarters to be awarded the right to debate such Bills and stressed that PKR supported PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s right to bring the Bill forward.

In his bid to amend Act 355, Hadi proposed to increase the Shariah Courts’ sentencing limits from the current three years in jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes to a maximum 30 years in jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.

Anwar noted that other parliamentarians and leaders should be allowed to debate, amend or reject the Bill, considering it is merely Hadi’s interpretation.