KUCHING, September 20 – Bansa Dayak Sarawak Party (PBDS) Chairman Bobby William today urged Christian lawmakers in Sarawak to reject a sharia courts (criminal jurisdiction) bill aimed at increasing powers criminal laws of Sharia courts if it seeks to control and restrict the spread of non-Islamic religions in the state.
He said Christians in Sarawak will watch them closely if they vote according to their conscience when the bill is tabled in parliament this year.
“PBDS is of the opinion that supporting this RUU355 is against our religion and as Christians we must defend our faith,” he said in responding to the recent statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob that the federal government was currently in the midst of a crisis. the drafting of the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act to increase the criminal powers of the Sharia Courts.
The law is known as its number 355, and the proposed amendment is commonly known by the Malaysian initials of Rang Undang-undang, as RUU355.
Bobby asked if Saratok Datuk MP Ali Biju and Puncak Borneo Datuk MP Willie Mongin, both Christians, would vote against the bill since they are now Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Party.
He said predominantly Christian Sarawak has no religious issues, adding that people of different ethnicities have the freedom to practice their faith.
Bobby asked what is the purpose of the concept of “Malaysian family” if RUU355 is to be applied nationally, controlling and restricting the spread of other religions.
“Where are the harmony and democracy of a multiracial nation if it is imposed in the context of integration into civil law?” He asked.
Bobby urged all Sarawakans, especially non-Muslims, to voice their opposition to any attempt to control the spread of their faith.
“May our voices be heard so that we can achieve real equality and justice for the good of Malaysia and Sarawak,” he said.
In a September 16 statement, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in a parliamentary response to Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad, said the government, through the Islamic and Civil Law Technical Committee, reporting to the National Council for Business religious leaders, had held a series of meetings to discuss RUU 355, since 2020.
“This is to look at various aspects, in particular the constitution and Syarak law, so that RUU 355 is more comprehensive and further strengthens the criminal jurisdiction of Sharia courts,” Ismail Sabri said in the published written response. on Parliament’s website.
The prime minister said the government’s bill will be presented to states for discussion once it is finalized. Islamic law falls under the jurisdiction of the state in Malaysia.
Controversy over the proposal to strengthen sharia courts first erupted when it was linked to the hudud and was seen as a way to impose severe penalties on Muslims perceived to violate Islamic laws, including those in the LGBT community.
RUU355 was tabled by PAS Chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on May 26, 2016 as a private member’s bill.
The bill proposed by Hadi sought to increase the maximum sentences of the Sharia courts to 30 years in prison, 100,000 RM fine and 100 strokes of the cane.
The controversy erupted when Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s (Religious Affairs) Department Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary reportedly said the federal government was drafting four bills, including a bill on controls and restrictions on the development of Muslim non-religions.
Since then, some MPs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have raised concerns about the bill aimed at controlling and restricting the development of non-Muslim religions.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, in his Malaysia Day address, said the state government would reject any attempt to control and restrict religious freedom in the state.