PAS' Syariah courts Bill meets resistance, Latest World News - The New Paper

PAS' Syariah courts Bill meets resistance

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PETALING JAYA: Prominent leaders in Sabah and Sarawak yesterday urged Malaysians to reject a bid by the main Islamist opposition party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), to strengthen the country's syariah courts.

PAS head Abdul Hadi Awang was allowed at short notice on Saturday to propose a controversial Bill to strengthen the Islamic courts, to the surprise of many.

Non-Muslims are concerned that the move, should the Bill be passed, would lead to further Islamisation at the cost of their civil liberties, despite assurances by PAS that only Muslims would be affected.

The Speaker abruptly ended proceedings on Saturday without allowing dissenting debate or a vote. This came after pushback from the non-Muslim partners of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

In an open letter, 20 signatories who include former and current politicians in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as former top civil servants, called on Malaysians to preserve the country as a secular state.

The open letter was published as an advertorial in an online portal and made available in four languages - English, Malay, Kadazandusun and Iban.

The signatories said it is important for Malaysians to take a categorical stand against the move by the PAS president as it will alter the secular nature of the Federal Constitution.