There are renewed calls for more Muslims to support a petition to review religious laws in the country after Kelantan tabled an amendment to its Shariah criminal enactment.
Lyana Khairuddin, who started the petition I am #26, posted an update on their campaign yesterday shortly after Kelantan tabled the enactment in the state legislative assembly to implement the controversial law.
“I cannot stress enough how such developments concern me, as a citizen of Malaysia,” said Lyana in the petition, Prime Minister of Malaysia I am #26, on the website Change.org.
The petition organisers hope to build support by calling on the group of 25 eminent Malays, which now stand at 44, who had last October started a campaign for the government to review Shariah law.
“I am currently engaging with members of the G25 to support them in their aim, that is to have a consultative discourse by an expert panel on reviewing the Shariah law in Malaysia,” said Lyana.
“(It is) hoped that our small number through this petition will lend them a hand in pressuring our government to be more pragmatic in managing this issue.”
The “I am #26 petition” was started soon after the G25, which comprised former Muslim senior servants, wrote an open letter to the government in December last year calling for a review of Shariah laws throughout Malaysia.
They attracted wide public attention and have since met the prime minister’s representatives and some Malay rulers to put forth their arguments.
In their December letter, the G25 had decried the “lack of clarity and understanding” on the place of Islam within Malaysia’s constitutional democracy, as well as a “serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions”.
The group also expressed concern at how religious authorities were “asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction”, and that fatwa issued had violated the Federal Constitution as well as the consultative process.
The signatories of the 19-paragraph letter comprised former high-ranking civil servants, including directors-general, secretaries-general, ambassadors and prominent individuals, all of whom are Malays.
Yesterday, legislators in Kelantan, one of Malaysia’s poorest states in the northeast of the peninsula, tabled amendments to the state’s Shariah Criminal Code Enactment II (1993).
It cannot be enforced, however, even with the legislative assembly’s stamp of approval, because of constitutional roadblocks.
However, Kelantan PAS, which rules the state, plans to push through a bill in Parliament to amend Act 355, the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which governs the scope of the Shariah courts, in order to enforce the enactment. – March 19, 2015.