Later this month in October 2016, the so-called Hadi’s Bill which is a Private Member’s Bill will be debated. Many Muslim leaders like PAS President Hadi Awang and Umno President and Prime Minister Najib Razak are trying to convince the Rakyat that this bill has nothing to do with implementing hudud which is part of the shariah prescribing various penalties for apostasy, adultery, false accusation, alcohol consumption, theft and robbery. Are they telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
The Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) 2015 which was passed by the Kelantan State Parliament last May cannot be enforced because the penalties prescribed in that amendment exceeded the authority of the Shariah Courts. As such, again, Kelantan was stuck in its track to implement Shariah Criminal Code in the state.
A blueprint was later constructed by various parties led by JAKIM who devised the plan to first expand the powers of the Shariah Courts by amending the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) to enable these courts to go beyond the 3-5-6 limits. These limits presently contain the Shariah Courts to prescribing no more than 3 years imprisonment, a maximum of RM5,000 fine and whipping up to 6 lashes. The so-called blueprint is to pave the way slowly to enabling Shariah practices and penalties across the country via state enactments which is a backdoor approach without amending the Federal Constitution which will require 2/3 majority votes in the Federal Parliament. In this way, every state that wishes to implement the Shariah criminal code can easily do so within the confines of the State Parliament with a simple majority.
PAS President Hadi Awang first tabled a Private Member’s Bill last June to remove the 3-5-6 limitations to full enablement of the Shariah Courts to enforce the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code. He deferred the reading of the Bill to a later date but this year in May, he tabled a less ambitious Private Member’s Bill. He removed the demand of the death penalty and excluded all crimes outlawed by the Penal Code, including sodomy under unnatural sex act. In short, Hadi took out the penalties of stoning and amputation which means excluding offenses of theft, robbery, homicide, and apostasy by stoning (other penalties for apostasy remains). An excellent analysis was done by Wong Chin Huat (read here).
When this Hadi’s Bill is raised for debate and voting for adoption in the coming weeks, it is imperative that it is not passed at all.
As much as Hadi and Najib try to allay fears of non-Muslims regarding this bill by saying it has only to do with Muslims, there is no guarantee that it won’t. In reality, it will definitely affect non-Muslims when the passage of this Bill enables Kelantan and later Terengganu to enforce Shariah penalties to offenses in the Shariah Courts.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- If there is a conflict between Federal Laws and State Shariah enactments, will the precedence automatically fall on the civil courts?
- Is there a choice for Muslims to choose which court the Muslim wishes to be heard?
- Is there a choice for the non-Muslims affected by cases under the Shariah Criminal Code because the accused is a Muslim to choose which court the non-Muslim wishes to be heard?