PETALING JAYA: A local non-governmental organization (NGO) called Bebas is organising a peaceful counter-rally called “Malaysians Reject Hadi’s Bill” on the same day as the “Himpunan 355” rally organized by PAS.
The rally is in opposition to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 amendments tabled in the Dewan Rakyat through a Private Member’s Bill brought by PAS president and Marang MP Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
“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,” said Bebas members Azrul Mohd Khalib, Azira Aziz, and R. Suresh in a joint statement.
The group said that Abdul Hadi had failed to provide any justification for proposing that Syariah punishments be increased to 30 years’ jail, a RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.
“We have heard no citation of research studies which attest that harsher punishments lead to deterrence or reduced occurrences of Syariah offences, or convict recidivism in Muslim countries already implementing similar laws,” they said.
The group added that any proposed reforms should be made through evidence-based policymaking and not mere rhetoric.
The trio said that all Malaysians had the right to speak up on issues and laws which could drastically alter the country’s secular structure.
“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,” they said.
Bebas also urged lawmakers to consider the views of both Muslims and non-Muslims who oppose Hadi’s Bill.
“We urge all MPs across creed and faith, including Muslim lawmakers, to summon the courage to vote ‘no’ to Hadi’s Bill,” said Bebas.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man announced on Jan 7 that the party was targeting some 300,000 participants for the purple-themed “Himpunan 355”, which aims to gather support for Act 355.
He said PAS had applied for a permit to hold the event at Dataran Merdeka, but this was later rejected by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), which offered the use of Stadium Titiwangsa instead.
Hadi’s Bill, which was read out for a second time with several tweaks last November, is expected to come up for debate when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes in March.