PKR has urged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to state his stand on the proposal to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 and guarantee that all rights under the Federal Constitution would be respected.
In a newly launched booklet to explain PKR's position on the proposed amendments, party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Najib has been largely silent on the matter, resulting in many uncertainties.
"Until now, there has been no effort to explain nor hold discussions with representatives from political parties and the community.
"We have chosen the path of mutual understanding to uphold Islam as the religion of the Federation while guaranteeing religious freedom for non-Muslims," wrote Wan Azizah.
She added that PKR had identified several "worrying matters" in with the contents of Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's bill, which contained the proposal, due to its "ambiguity" regarding the scope of punishments.
"Since the proposals involve criminal laws that conflict with Islamic laws, the proposed punishments have to be absolutely certain. Whatever amendments that deal with punishments must be precise in their meaning.
"Any proposed amendments need to be absolutely aligned with Islamic laws. We also need to consider whether the amendments fit into the framework of the Federal Constitution," wrote Wan Azizah.
How will PKR vote?
At this point, it does not appear that PKR has decided whether to support or reject the bill, as the party is demanding more discussions and details.
"PKR's position is predicated on the condition that any debate on the Act 355 motion and its amendments to existing laws is to acquire further explanation and guarantee from the Prime Minister.
"(The bill) must comply and fulfill Islamic principles of justice and fairness, and do not contradict the text and the spirit of the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement," said Wan Azizah.
According to PKR information chief Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, the bilingual 34-page booklet, titled "Strengthening Islamic Jurisprudence in Malaysia", would be distributed through PKR branches throughout the country.
Copies will be sent to Islamic authorities of various states, the Attorney-General's Chambers and other religious groups.
He said the book not only presents the party's position on the matter but also addresses several different positions on weaknesses and possible solutions for Islamic jurisprudence today.
The booklet is also available online on PKR's website (pdf).
Abdul Hadi's bill seeks to increase the sentencing limit for Syariah courts to a maximum RM100,000 fine, maximum 30 year jail sentence and 100 lashes, up from the present maximum RM5,000 fine, maximum three years jail sentence and six lashes.
The bill is expected to be debated when the Dewan Rakyat convenes in March.- Mkini