KLANG: The government has concluded the engagement session with states on the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) which includes the proposal to increase penalties for syariah criminal offences.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Dr. Mohd Nai’im Mokhtar emphasised the significance of states’ involvement, as matters concerning Islam are rights granted to the states as per the Constitution.

“Currently, Syariah courts are empowered to impose maximum sentences of three years’ imprisonment, a fine up to RM5,000, or six strokes of whipping, for offences under the Islamic law.

“...this implies that under the current law, syariah criminal offences such as insulting religion cannot incur punishments exceeding these limits. As the minister in charge, I am working to amend the act, which has not been revised since 1984,“ he said when met at the Jalinan Kasih Yayasan Kita Anak Malaysia iftar event here on Saturday (March 23).

He said this in response to Umno Youth chief Dr Muhammad Akmal Saleh’s statement proposing to the Umno Supreme Council to file a motion in Parliament for enhancing penalties against those who insult religion.

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Mohd Na’im said that the syariah law, which applies solely to Muslim offenders, is being reinforced through amendments to the act and will be presented after due processes.

He said if non-Muslims insult Islam, the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the police, prosecution and civil courts.

“If amendments are made to the 1965 Act in response to Dr. Akmal Saleh’s remarks, states will have the flexibility to modify their own enactments and syariah criminal laws to broaden the scope of punishment, particularly for those who insult Islam,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohd Na’im said 14,000 asnaf students and orphans nationwide will each receive RM252.80 in school aid through the Taqwa-MAIWP Foundation’s Jom Ke Sekolah (JKS) 2024 programme, amounting to RM2.1 million.

He highlighted that this assistance, comprising school bags, stationery and cash, aims to provide encouragement, relief and joy while alleviating the financial burden on parents during the school season.

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