BANGI: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today revealed that the special briefing on the Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) for Muslim MPs yesterday was heated in the beginning.
The deputy prime minister said, however, the situation did not persist.
He said all the MPs present accepted the explanation by the government that Act 355 was linked to efforts to empower the authority of the shariah courts and it was not about the implementation of hudud as feared by some.
“Even though there are various political ideologies and understanding in the country, we are fortunate that in the name of Islam, all Muslim MPs were able to set aside their political leanings and ideologies to sit together and discuss.
“Initially, the session was rather heated as some lacked understanding.
“But when the explanation was made, they asked why was the explanation not given earlier and we said why didn’t they ask.”
He said this when opening the International Al-Quran Tahfiz Symposium in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Darul Quran at the Malaysian Islamic Training Institute here.
Present were Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki and Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Othman Mustapha.
Zahid said the special briefing by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom was attended by MPs from BN, PAS, PKR and Amanah.
Elaborating further, the deputy prime minister said he did not mean to use a special platform to speak on matters considered political but the briefing was to explain the capacity to empower Islamic laws.
He said non-Muslims should not feel threatened or marginalised by the matter as the amendments and later implementation would only apply to Muslims.
“What are the non-Muslims afraid about as this is for Muslims, and does not even touch on non-Muslims.
“Why must Muslims be faulted if we try to empower the Islamic legal system?
“What is wrong if the move ensures shariah judges are upgraded from grade 54 to Superscale C, B, A and so on.”
In this regard, Zahid reminded those who oppose Act 355 to respect matters on Islamic laws and understand that Islamic laws are only for Muslims.
“If they do not understand, we will explain and negotiate, but do not oppose before understanding and getting another perception of the laws.”
Yesterday, Zahid, who is BN chief whip, was reported as saying the bill brought by Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang, which had sparked various assumptions and public debate, would be tabled at the current Dewan Rakyat session. -FMT