Sarawak not amending state syariah law on apostasy

KUCHING: The Office of the Chief Minister of Sarawak (OCMS) today issued a statement denying a news article published by Malay Mail Online titled "Sarawak to Amend State Shariah Laws on Apostasy".

In the statement, the OCMS stressed that the article that mentioned the proposed amendment to the Sarawak Syariah Court Ordinance 2001 to make it easier for Muslim converts to leave Islam, was highly inaccurate.

"The report did not reflect what was stated by the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister has clearly stated that since the Federal Court ruled that the Syariah Court has the power to hear apostasy cases, it is necessary for further action.

"It includes reviewing the need to amend the Syariah Court Ordinance 2001 or the Sarawak Islamic Religious Council Ordinance 2001, as well as the requirement to provide standard operating procedures for implementation purposes," the OCMS said.

Last Tuesday, the Federal Court here ruled that there were provisions in the Sarawak Islamic Religious Council Ordinance 2001 over the power of the state Syariah Court to handle apostasy cases.

The issue arose after four Sarawakians wanted to know whether a civil or syariah court has the jurisdiction over their efforts to leave Islam.

The decision has since invited many reactions from various parties particularly in Sarawak. — Bernama