By Annabelle Lee

Bebas spokesperson Azrul Mohd Khalib was questioned by the police today over the counter-rally against PAS’ rally to support the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

(To read the article in Malaysiakini click here.)

Azrul said the police wanted to know who the other organisers of the counter-rally were and whether they had the necessary permission to do so.

“(I told them that) we informed the police 10-days before the counter-rally. We also informed the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ),” he said when contacted this evening.

He added that the police spent about 40 minutes recording his statements and that the matter was being investigated under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

Bebas held the counter-rally at Taman Tasik Jaya, Petaling Jaya to coincide with PAS’ rally that was happening in Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur on Feb 18.

Right to peaceful assembly

Azrul said both organisers had the right to demonstrate.

“I hope no further action will be taken against me or Bebas as this will be an infringement of our democratic rights,” he said.

Last year, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabled a bill to amend the law to increase the punishment cap for the syariah courts.

The matter is expected to be debated during the ongoing Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Bebas held the counter-rally on grounds that there were insufficient studies that proved that harsher punishment led to deterrence or reduced occurrences of syariah offences in Muslim-majority countries that are already implementing similar laws.

They said any proposed reforms must be made through evidence-based policymaking. They also complained of insufficient public feedback sought over the proposed amendments.