Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government will press ahead to table the bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, or Act 355, despite warnings from members of the BN ruling coalition.
"The government will table the Act 355 (amendment) on its own in Parliament soon," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Zahid added that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was committed to making the amendment and argued that the move posed no threat to other religions.
Speaking at a meeting of Terengganu Umno branches in Kuala Terengganu, Zahid did not mention whether the bill would be tabled in the current Parliament session, which is sitting until April 6.
Apart from Umno, other major BN component parties including those in Sarawak have vowed to oppose the amendment.
The proposed amendment was initially an initiative by PAS.
In May last year, Parliament was caught by surprise when the government allowed PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's motion to table a private member's bill to amend Act 355.
However, Hadi chose to postponed the motion, citing the need to give time to other MPs to study the proposed amendment.
The original amendment sought to grant the syariah courts powers to mete out punishments without limits, with the exception of the death sentence.
After negotiations between PAS and the Umno-led government, Hadi agreed to amend the proposal.
It would instead increase the punishment limit that the syariah courts can mete out from three years’ imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan to 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.
Hadi subsequently tabled the amended motion in Parliament in November but he again postponed the debate, citing the need to give time to MPs to examine the changes made.- Mkini