SEBERANG PERAI, Nov 20 — Putrajaya is planning to reform Islamic laws in the country by 2020, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

With the Compassionate Islam policy as guidance, he said Shariah laws need to focus more on rehabilitating offenders rather than punishing them.

“We hope to introduce reformative provisions in Islamic laws in the Federal Territories by the middle of 2020,” he said in a press conference after attending a book launch here.

He said under the Islamic laws, the punishments for offences such as those who “cross-dress” included caning, fines or jail sentences. These laws have been used to criminalise and stigmatise transgender persons.

Mujahid insisted today that such laws have existed even before the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration took over.

“We have to go through all these laws and I appointed a new committee of Shariah and civil laws to look through all these laws,” he said.

He added that the committee has a benchmark to ensure that the Islamic laws are shifted from punitive to rehabilitative.

“We want to shift to rehabilitative laws so that those who committed such crimes are given rehabilitation instead of being punished,” he said, referring to cases of transgender Muslims being sentenced to caning.

Despite that, medical and gender experts have questioned authorities for trying to “rehabilitate” transgenders, insisting they need medical care to transition them into their affirmed gender identities rather than rehabilitation to return them to what some may consider “normal”.

He said state Islamic laws are not under his ministry’s jurisdiction, but he will bring this up with the Conference of Rulers.

“I have spoken to the Conference of Rulers on the shift of punitive to rehabilitative in Islamic laws so that they will decide on it,” he said.

He added that respective states will have to adhere to any decisions made by the Conference of Rulers.

He added that his ministry has been successful in introducing Compassionate Islam and this is evidenced by him being invited for an interview on BBC’s Hardtalk.

“Hardtalk inviting me to speak is a recognition on its own and I was invited as a keynote speaking in UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit recently, this proved that we have been successful in introducing Compassionate Islam,” he said.