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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15, 2014:

Looks like the 25 prominent Malays will see an increase in numbers.

Two petitions in support of the stand taken by the group have been launched, urging the Prime Minister to address key concerns for Malay Muslims in the country, including reviewing the Syariah Criminal Offences.

The first petition, titled “I am #26”, kicked off yesterday on change.org.

It called on Datuk Seri Najib Razak to increase the awareness of lawmakers and the public on the legal jurisdiction as well as limiting the substantial powers of the religious authorities and administration of Islamic laws in Malaysia.

“For too long, the dual legal system being practised in Malaysia has led to many conflicts and overlaps between syariah and civil laws,” said the online petition creator Lyana Khairuddin.

“These laws, which turn all manner of ‘sins’ into crimes against the state, have led to confusion and dispute in both substance and provisions.”

The petition demanded that Najib call for meaningful consultation from civil society on ways Islam could be used as a source of public law and policy in this country.

It also called to promote awareness of the rich diversity of interpretive texts and juristic opinions in the Islamic tradition in response to the changing demands, role and status of women in the family and community.

Najib, the petition read, should assert his leadership as well as appoint key leaders who will champion open and coherent debate and discourse on the administration of Islamic laws.

“We especially urge that the leadership sends a clear signal for rational and informed debate on Islamic laws in Malaysia, and the way they are codified and implemented are not regarded as an insult to Islam or to the religious authorities,”

The petition, which can be vwed at http://chn.ge/1xhdH0p?recruiter=35042815, has gained 470 signatures at press time.

It also called for a consultative process in the “spirit of clemency and mercy”.

Meanwhile, another petition, dubbed “Kami juga 25!” (We are also 25!), was launched today via email.

It was meant to gather public support to ensure that the Prime Minister puts an end to the country’s petty differences, false promises, racism, bigotry, intimidation and blind hatred, in the same spirit of the letter penned by the 25 prominent Malay citizens.

The petition, by activists Mohani Niza and Azrul Mohd Khalib, also called on Najib to understand that the idea that Malaysians needed to dominate and discriminate in order to progress as a people and a country was being rejected.

“That only Muslims can speak on matters which affect Muslims, and that non-Muslims and other fellow Malaysians must stay silent is wrong.

“We should never stay silent in the face of injustice, tyranny and persecution inflicted upon our brothers and sisters and speak up for each other instead,” the petition read.

It also hit out at the “diabolical reasoning” that being critical, speaking in opposition or supporting a contrary view was tantamount to being anti-Malaysian, anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay.

Such reasoning, they argued, only served those who wished for their actions to be hidden from public scrutiny and be immune from accountability and act with impunity.

On Dec 9, the 25 prominent Malays, through an open letter, had called on Najib to establish an inclusive consultative committee as well as called for rational dialogue on Islamic laws and for moderation.

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