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1. This short statement responds to the open letter signed by 20 leaders that opposed the amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355 which was published in the local newspapers.

2. Sabah PAS disagree with the contents of that letter. Firstly, what are the exact articles in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA1963) and the Federal Constitution that would be breached if RUU355 is passed? Please tell the public. This is very important because merely saying there would be a breach, without specifying the breached provisions, is misleading. 

3. Secondly, the letter alleged that RUU35 would introduce hudud punishments. This argument has no merit. RUU355 merely intends to amend an act of Parliament, i.e. Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which does not apply to non-muslim, in order to increase the sentencing power of syariah courts. This sentencing power will apply to all syariah offences and not just certain offences. If Parliament allows it, it is up then to the State Assembly in each state to adopt it or not in their respective syariah criminal offences enactments. If a state government chooses to adopt it, it can impose the maximum sentence or not. Hence, to say that the passing of RUU355 will immediately enable hudud punishments is incorrect. 

4. Thirdly, since the 20 leaders are worried about hudud, a short history about syariah criminal law in Sabah is worth telling. Today, in Sabah, the syariah criminal law is governed by the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995. Prior to its introduction, the said law was governed by Administration of Muslim Law Enactment 1971 and later Administration of Muslim Law Enactment 1977.  The latter enacment contained one hudud offence i.e. drinking liquor. Later, the Sabah government added two hudud offences in Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995, i.e. adultery and qazaf. Since 1977 until now, no one has ever complained about the three syariah enactments or the three hudud offences. A claim that they have breached MA1963 and Federal Constitution is also unheard of. There has been no religious or racial tension here due to them. Instead, Sabahans have lived in peace and harmony all these years despite the existence of the three hudud offences. 

5.  I note that some opponents of RUU355 claim that RU355 would affect the non-muslim by giving examples such as the case false registration of non-muslim as muslim, conversion and child custody dispute. The claim is not true. RUU355 is a criminal matter while the examples given are civil matters. Section 2 of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdisction) 1965 clearly states that the syariah court only has jurisdiction on muslims only. Therefore, a non-muslim can never be prosecuted in syariah courts.

6. Lastly, since the letter had mentioned about maqasid syariah, I wish to inform the 20 signatories of the letter that the syariah criminal law in Sabah has been stagnant since 1995. Hence, I respectfully would like to know if they have any suggestion on how to upgrade the syariah criminal law including the syariah courts in Sabah. They may have suggestions which the state government can consider for the betterment of syariah criminal law in Sabah. Sabah PAS will support those suggestions if they are good.

7. Thank you.


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