Islamist political leaders in Malaysia have introduced a bill to introduce Sharia law across the South East Asian nation. The leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, Abdul Hadi Awang, will put forward a bill during the 17 Oct to 23 Nov 2016 session of parliament that seeks to allow Muslim courts to hand out any punishment authorized by Islamic legal traditions. Under the current law, adopted in 1965, Muslim courts have jurisdiction over family, inheritance and related areas of law. The new law if adopted would permit Muslim courts to adjudicate criminal cases and hand down sentences currently forbidden by the country’s secular constitution. Writing on the Malaysiakini website, retired Catholic Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing said if the bill is passed “we would have crossed the Rubicon in terms of Islamization of Malaysia,” adding: it “is a matter of time before dhimmitude and the jizya are around the corner.” In a letter to lawmakers, the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Malaysian Council of Churches, said they should be “alarmed” by prospect of Sharia law. He urged them to “represent the interests of the people in defending and protecting the fundamental rights and liberties as enshrined in the Constitution.” While past attempts by Islamist parties to introduce Sharia law have failed, the current political climate presents them with an opportunity. Under pressure in Parliament from the opposition over corruption scandals, Prime Minister Najib Razak may turn to the Islamist parties to maintain his hold on power — and their price, analysts say, would be sharia law.