RAMKARPAL: SHARIAH BILL ILLEGAL EVEN IF PROPOSED BY GOVT
BN component parties must make their stand clear on bill even though Ahmad Maslan now claims MPs must support it since it comes from government, says Ramkarpal.
(FT) – A DAP lawmaker has repeated his party’s stand that the proposed amendments to enhance punishment for shariah offences is still unlawful even if it is the government proposing the changes to a controversial legislation.
Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act goes against the Federal Constitution and does not become constitutional just because it has been taken over by the government.
“As such, the DAP’s stand on the matter remains unaffected regardless who proposes to table the said Bill as its character remains the same,” Ramkarpal said in a statement.
His response came following a statement by Umno supreme council member Ahmad Maslan that Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties were compelled to support the proposed amendments now that Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion had been taken over by the government.
The DAP, which remains steadfast that Malaysia remains a secular state, is of the view that there could not be two parallel criminal justice systems for Muslims and non-Muslims.
The proposed punishment also violates the constitutional right of Malaysians of equal protection before the law.
Ramkarpal, who is also a lawyer, said Ahmad Maslan’s statement also confirmed suspicions that BN MPs were mere rubberstamps of government bills, regardless of how controversial the said amendment was.
“Ahmad Maslan’s statement sounds more like a directive to all BN MPs to support the said bill first brought by Hadi,” he said.
Hadi, who is the PAS MP for Marang, said since the bill had now been taken over by the government, then there was nothing stopping BN component parties from changing their previous stance and voting for the bill.
Ramkarpal said other BN component parties must make their stand clear now in light of Ahmad Maslan’s statement as their silence on the matter would be construed as an endorsement.
“MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other BN component parties who were opposed to the bill when it was proposed by Hadi must unequivocally answer the above question, failing which the assumption that they are not opposed to the bill would be irresistible,” he added.
At the last Dewan Rakyat sitting, Hadi deferred his motion to debate his private member’s bill to empower the shariah courts to mete out sentences up to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine, and 100 strokes of the cane.
Currently, shariah criminal punishment is capped at three years’ prison term, RM5,000 fine, and six strokes of the cane.
However, Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak told delegates at the party’s annual conference early this month that the government would take up the matter.
Lawyer Surendra Ananth said the proposal to allow shariah courts to impose punitive punishments on Muslims could still pave the way for the introduction of hudud, something which PAS denies.
Surendra, who is also deputy co-chairperson of the Malaysian Bar constitutional law committee, said three offences, qazaf, al-lian (for husband) and syurb could be implemented in all states.
Surendra said the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code II 1993 (as amended in 2015) provided for eight hudud offences and three of those could be implemented if the maximum punishment sought was approved by Parliament.
He said the offence of Qazaf (false accusation of adultery) and al-lian (false accusation of adultery by husband, on oath, against his wife) carried a punishment of 80 lashes.
Those found guilty of Syurb (consumption of liquor or intoxicating drinks) could be whipped a minimum of 40 times and a maximum of 80 times.