Good to have more Shariah Act proposals, say lawyers

Nizam-Bashir_law_600

PETALING JAYA: It is good that Amanah has its own proposals to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as RUU355, and the Barisan Nasional is considering doing likewise.

Speaking to FMT, shariah lawyer Nizam Bashir said it was good to have more options on top of PAS’ proposed amendments to the act.

He was commenting on reports that Putrajaya might table its own bill to amend the act, which would make it the third such proposed amendment after PAS’ private members bill and another such bill proposed by Amanah lawmakers.

“The issue is quite simple actually and the three parties essentially have the same goal of empowering the shariah courts,” he said, adding that while their proposed amendments differed in terms of specifics, their overall aim was the same.

Nizam said ideally, the respective parties should sit down and work out a common framework for an amendment to the act to be presented in Parliament.

“If they cannot work out a common framework, then we will be faced with a disordered situation where each party is trying to push its proposed amendments,” he said, adding that this would lead to each party trying to convince fence sitters to support its respective amendments.

Nizam stressed that non-Muslim lawmakers must take an interest in this issue and vote on it when the time comes.

“Non-Muslim MPs also have a duty to represent their Muslim constituents, so they must articulate the views of their constituents as well in voting on the matter.”

Another shariah lawyer, Akberdin Abdul Kader echoed similar sentiments, saying it was a positive development that Amanah had its own proposed amendments and that the BN was planning to do so too.

He said the current discourse on the amendment was limited as the only proposal came from PAS.

“There is this ‘take it or leave it’ sentiment, but with more options, we can widen the scope of discourse on the matter,” he told FMT.

Furthermore, he said, it was only natural that Amanah and BN would run their proposed amendments by their respective coalition partners and members before tabling them in Parliament.

“Surely, Amanah and BN would not table any bill if their respective partners and members are not okay with it.

“Hopefully, now that the discourse goes beyond a single party’s proposal, people and lawmakers would be more open to discussing the various proposed amendments rather than rejecting it outright.”

In Parliament yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said the government was currently studying a plan to amend the act which currently limits punishments meted out on shariah offenders to three years’ jail, six strokes of whipping and RM5,000 fine.