Law minister: No proposal to control non-Muslim religions

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Religion falls under the states and even if the federal government makes laws on them, they are not really binding.

De facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said a number of proposed syariah legislation, including the Restriction on the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bill, has yet to be brought to the cabinet.

He added that if it were to be brought to Parliament, it must first be consented by all states.

Most states already have a similar law regulating the propagation of non-Muslim religions, but Sarawak, Sabah and Penang do not have one.

“Religion falls under the states, even if the federal government makes (laws on them) they are not really binding.

“We need to engage the states on whether they agree or not. Politicians like to talk but on the question of implementation – if a state does not agree then it won’t happen,” said Wan Junaidi, who is part of the state ruling coalition GPS in Sarawak.

Earlier, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said Putrajaya is in the midst of drafting four new shariah laws, including one to restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions to Muslims.

The deputy minister of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department said the three other drafts were of the Wakaf, Mufti and Syariah Court Bills.

He said the bills were part of the government’s plan to strengthen shariah law in Malaysia.

These, he said, will be especially relevant for the federal territories.

“They will be implemented under the Strengthening Shariah Laws Plan,” the PAS lawmaker told reporters.

Marzuk said several other legislations such as the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) will be amended under a five-year plan (2020-2025).

The proposed Control and Restriction on the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bill was raised after the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that non-Muslims can use the word “Allah”.

Seth Akmal/TMI

“The amendment of Act 355 is part of the plan,” said Marzuk, who is also Bachok MP.

In a recent interview with PAS’ mouthpiece Harakah Daily, newly minted Religious Affairs Minister Idris Ahmad said the issue related to Act 355 “was discussed and it was still waiting for cabinet approval in principle before presenting to the Conference of Rulers”.

“The initial draft of Act 355 has passed the review of the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” Idris had said.

However, PAS Ulama Wing chief Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh was reported to have said that the amendment of Act 355 will not be made in a hurry.

The amendment to Act 355 has been a long-time goal of PAS in order to allow the partial implementation of hudud.

This would involve increasing the maximum penalty provided by Act 355 to 30 years imprisonment, 100 lashes of the rotan and a fine of RM100,000.

This is to allow punishments to be meted out that are consistent with hudud.

At present, the maximum punishment under Act 355 is only up to RM5,000 fine, six lashes of the rotan and three years’ imprisonment.