Delay will give more time for MPs to study proposal

KUALA LUMPUR ― Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang deferred his Private Member’s Bill on Shariah courts for a second time yesterday so that lawmakers can dissect the proposal fully, PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said.

He said the Standing Orders permitted the PAS president to defer the debate on his motion to later parliamentary meetings.

Takiyuddin noted that Hadi’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 had been amended since the previous parliamentary meeting when the motion was first tabled.

“If we do it today, then some will say they didn’t have the chance to look at the Bill. So we want to give them a chance to study the Bill,” he told a press conference.

Earlier, Hadi told reporters after the Bill was deferred the decision to postpone the debate and voting was made in line with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s previous remarks that neither would take place yesterday.

He said this was also because his Bill was facing strong opposition from non-Muslims.

“This motion is only to do with Muslims, and should not be disturbed by non-Muslim,” he said.

“However, there are non-Muslim politicians who are not representing us and are objecting it for their own purpose over the good of the people.”

The Marang MP also claimed that previous amendments to the Shariah courts’ powers in 1965 and 1984 were done without the interference of non-Muslims.

“It shows how non-Muslim politicians now are interfering with the issue of Muslims,” he said.

From frequent accusations against the government of allegedly blocking him from presenting his Private Member’s Bill, Hadi has now deferred its tabling twice.

He was only able to do so in the last meeting following the intercession of an Umno minister.

The help Umno has extended to Hadi over the Bill, including a special briefing by Zahid this week, has fuelled speculation that the Islamist party and its traditional rival are forming a growing partnership.

But Takiyuddin denied this yesterday, and said PAS was prepared to cooperate with any party that supports its goals.

“PAS works together with anyone, including DAP, in matters of common interest. In good things, we work together,” he said.

He also denied that Hadi’s Bill was hudud as regularly alleged, insisting that it was takzir, which refers to judges’ discretion to decide punishments that were not covered under hudud.

Takiyuddin said the PAS president’s Bill might undergo further changes between now and when it is finally tabled in full.

The latest version of Hadi’s Bill seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to increase the Islamic courts’ punishment ceiling to 30 years’ prison, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.

It was previously to allow Shariah courts to mete out any punishment short of the death penalty.

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