KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has called for more engagement with non-Muslims over proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
PSM’s Sungai Siput MP Dr D. Jeyakumar (pic) said more discussion and consultation was needed as failure to do so had the potential to tear apart Malaysia’s diverse society.
“We are of the opinion that the decision to force the voting to take place is driven by political interests,” he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby Wednesday.
He added that non-Muslims also had the right to question the proposed amendments and its implications on their everyday life.
“Non-Muslims should be informed of the implications as they are also entitled to protect their rights.
“They would also like to know if there will be a mechanism that manages the possible overlap between the Syariah and civil courts systems,” said Dr Jeyakumar.
However, he called for calm as the amendments will have to go through many stages before they can be implemented.
“If the motion receives more than 51% of votes in the Dewan Rakyat, the Bill will be referred to a special committee that will amend and improve upon it.
“The non-Muslim community has the right to call for consultation with the said committee to raise their concerns.
“The debate on the motion will not take place this Parliament session, and even if it’s passed, it will not result in cutting off of limbs,” he said.
On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the proposed amendments would not be tabled in this Parliamentary meeting.
He said that the Private Member’s Bill brought by Marang MP Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang would merely be read out a second time this week to include several tweaks to the Bill that he read out for the first time in the previous sitting.
Following a briefing for Muslim lawmakers on Tuesday, Dr Ahmad Zahid said that as the Barisan Nasional whip, he would bring a proposal to Cabinet to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to study the proposed amendments, officially known as RUU355.
However, Amanah’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad questioned the move by Zahid, saying it indicated close cooperation between PAS and the Federal Government.
“The Deputy Prime Minister called the meeting in his personal capacity. Why the need to do that when it is just a Private Member’s Bill?
“And if the Federal Government agrees to the proposed amendments, why don’t they carry the Bill themselves to the Dewan Rakyat?” he said at a separate press conference.
He also questioned why only Muslim lawmakers were involved in the discussion.
“It gives an impression that the Muslims are conspiring against non-Muslims,” he said.