Rafizi: Will religious authorities go after wealthy, powerful Muslims if Shariah Bill passed?

By Tarrence Tan
PKR’s Rafizi Ramli says he is doubtful as to whether religious authorities will take action against wealthy and powerful Muslims. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 ― Will the proposed amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) ensure that all Muslims are given a fair trial, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli has asked.

The Pandan MP said he was doubtful as to whether religious authorities would take action against wealthy and powerful Muslims.

“There is a need to ensure that the Syariah enactment is fair to all. But, do we have enough judges and experts for that?” he asked last night during a mock parliamentary debate on Act 355 which was streamed live on his Facebook page.

He also asked if the religious authorities would take action against powerful and influential Muslims who consumed alcohol.

“I know who are the members of parliament who consume alcohol and there might be minister’s children who are cohabitating. Would the religious enforcement officers catch them?

“I’m aware that I’m now speaking outside of the House. But, if there are Sultans or members of the royal family who consume alcohol in the open, would the enforcement officers be brave enough to take action against them?” Rafizi asked.

“I’m concerned because only the poor will be nabbed by the religious authorities and be made as an example to the public,” the PKR vice-president added.

The mock debate was organised after Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had postponed the debate on Act 355 to the next parliamentary session in July 24.

Also present during last night’s “live debate” was Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad. He pointed out that the proposed amendments would only lead to injustice across the country, as the degree of punishment could vary greatly between different states.

“It is like giving a loaded gun to each state and it is up to the states whether to shoot or not. This is very irresponsible.

“That’s why, there must be a committee to standardise things.”

Through Act 355, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is seeking to raise the Shariah courts’ maximum sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane.

The current limits are three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes.