DAP has urged BN components to ditch the ruling coalition to protest the arbitrary support given by Umno to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill which seeks to increase the limits on punishments that Syariah Courts can mete out.
The bill seeks to raise the present punishment cap to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the whip. The current syariah punishment cap of three years’ imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the whip.
Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said that BN’s endorsement of “hudud-like” laws under PAS’ proposed amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) will lead to a clash with the constitution.
“Though we respect the rights of the Muslims to determine their religious affairs, it must be done properly in the context of the federal constitution.
“The proposed increase in punishment will place Act 355 one step or maybe several steps closer to hudud-like laws and for this reason it should be done through a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds majority and not through an ordinary legislation,” said Lim.
Lim said that the concerns of non-Muslims in wanting to see the secular nature of the federal constitution with Islam as the religion of the federation preserved, must be given due consideration.
“Raising the punishment cap so that it can come closer to hudud provisions would contravene the federal constitution in both spirit and substance,” he argued.
Lim noted that for Act 355 to be passed, it requires only a simple majority of MPs present and not 112 out of 222 MPs.
Whereas for a constitutional amendment to be passed, 148 MPs must vote for it.
It is pointless for MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP to continue to be in BN when they have been left in the dark, and completely ignored by Umno, said Lim.
He reminded them that Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that Hadi’s bill will be tabled for first reading again today and then referred to the parliamentary select committee.
Lim said that the failure of MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP to leave BN now can be seen as tacit approval of the unconstitutional measures adopted by PAS and Umno to move Malaysia closer to hudud-like laws.
Meanwhile, English daily The Star reported that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem has told all 25 state BN parliamentarians, including Muslims, to oppose the attempt to amend Act 355 in the House.
Hadi had tabled the motion to allow him to table the bill during the last day of the last parliamentary sitting in May, but he asked that it be postponed to the current sitting.- Mkini