Act 355 may have discriminatory, unconstitutional elements: Sarawak CM

Goh Pei Pei

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has called upon all Federal lawmakers to look into the tabling of the bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, or Act 355, judiciously.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg said Sarawak is concerned that there might be discriminatory elements in Act 355, in terms of penalties stipulated in the amendment.

"What we are concerned about are the penalties (proposed by the Act against Muslim offenders)," he told reporters after the launch of the Housing Projects for Civil Servants (PPA1M) event at Muara Tuang here.

"For example, if a non-Muslim and his Muslim accomplice are caught committing the same crime, the Muslim may be slapped with a stiffer penalty under Act 355.

"(This is against) Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which states that everyone should be equal and (not discriminated against) before the law..." he said.

"We are all Malaysians, thus, (the penalties imposed) must be (fair and equal)," he added.

Abang Johari said he had raised the matter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"I have communicated this with the Prime Minister," he said.