As the ‘purple wave’ takes over Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur for the Act 355 Rally, another one, albeit a smaller gathering, is underway across town in Petaling Jaya.
Calling it the Himpunan Rakyat Tolak Usul Hadi, some 50 people are gathered carrying placards to oppose PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 355.
The rally is organised by a group called BEBAS.
Present at the rally being organised at Taman Tasik Jaya is Gerakan Deputy Youth Chief Andy Yong and several other party members including their central committee member B. Jayanthi, Chai Ko Thing and Ong Siang Ling.
Yong however said they are attending the gathering today in their own personal capacity.
“We believe in the cause BEBAS is fighting for,” Yong said.
“More importantly we are here to uphold the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, nothing much on against Islam,” he added.
Also spotted at the rally is lawyer and activist Siti Kassim, who is listed as one of the speakers at the counter-rally.
Listed as speakers are DAP member Zaid Ibrahim, lawyer cum activist Haris Ibrahim as well as youth activist Vince Tan, amongst others.
In a statement by BEBAS members Azira Aziz and Azrul Mohd Khalib, the group urged all MPs ‘to heed the concerns of Malaysians who fear that Hadi’s bill will perpetrate injustices against both Muslims and non-Muslims’.
It deserves to be noted here that PAS leaders have previously reiterated that the amendment being proposed will not affect non-Muslims.
However, BEBAS claimed that for non-Muslims, the fear is that Hadi’s bill will lead to hudud and enable arbitrary action to be taken against them, whether it is raids on businesses or focing non-Muslim to cover up.
As for the ‘purple wave’ rally in Padang Merbok, it is expected that the event will last until 11pm tonight, as participants gather to show support for the amendments to the Act.
The objective of the amendment is to empower the Syariah courts, specifically in Kelantan.
While the bill has been tabled, it is expected to be debated in the next Parliament sitting.
Also called Himpunan 355, its director Nasrudin Hassan said yesterday that he is confident they can achieve a turnout of more than 50,000.