“Malaysians Reject Hadi’s Bill” Rally

BEBAS, a movement that upholds equality, opposes racial discrimination and advocates for religious freedom in Malaysia, is organising a peaceful rally on 18 February 2017, at Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur, to show strong objection to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).

The rally, which will be held from 3pm – 5pm on 18 February, is called “Malaysians Reject Hadi’s Bill”.

All Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion, are welcomed to join the rally to protest against Hadi’s Bill, a dangerous piece of legislation which opens the door to hudud.

Claims that Hadi’s Bill merely seeks to strengthen the Shariah courts are disingenuous.

Hadi has not provided any justification or rationale whatsoever for his proposed enhanced Shariah punishments of 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes from the current limits of three years’ jail, a RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan.

We have heard no citation of research studies which attest that harsher punishments lead to deterrence or reduced occurrences of Shariah offences, or convict recidivism in Muslim countries already implementing similar laws.

He has simply not bothered.

Any proposed reforms must be done through an evidence-based policymaking process, not merely rhetoric.

Hadi has not considered the overall impact of such laws to a nation’s economy. The countries often referenced by PAS as shining examples of hudud law implementation are actually ‘failed states’ and non-democracies, where there are high unemployment rates, large swathes of the population in hardcore poverty, girls deprived of an education, democratic oppression, armed conflict and general disregard for human rights.

Are these the kind of countries we should be looking up to as role models?

Like any other law, Hadi’s Bill and his opinions should be open to scrutiny and questioning from all, including both Muslims and non-Muslims. We are all equal citizens of this country.

The money used to run the Shariah system and to enforce Shariah legislation comes from both Muslim and non-Muslim Malaysian taxpayers.

All Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, have the right to speak up on issues and laws which could drastically change the country’s secular structure and our way of life. Hadi’s Bill is one of them.

We remind our MPs that they represent Malaysian voters of various ethnicities and faiths. Their decisions must be representative of the people and take into account both Muslims and non-Muslims who oppose Hadi’s Bill.

We reject Hadi’s fundamentalist interpretation of Shariah law.

We urge all Members of Parliament across creed and faith, including Muslim lawmakers, to summon the courage to vote “NO” against Hadi’s Bill.

Together, we must make a clear stand against Hadi’s Bill which could turn our beloved moderate country into a nation of extreme moral policing, bigotry and intolerance.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, Azira Aziz, R. Suresh

Members of BEBAS