Vote against ‘hudud’ bill, Masing instructs PRS MPs

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KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has confirmed that its MPs will not support the hudud-related bill proposed by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang.

PRS President James Masing said he had instructed the party’s six MPs to vote against the bill.

“Our party’s stance is very clear. We are not going to support the ‘hudud’ motion by the PAS president in the current Parliament sitting,” the Borneo Post quoted Masing as saying.

“Hudud was not part of the deal when we formed the Federation,” he said adding: “It’s not in the Federal Constitution.”

Instead, he said, his party wanted Sarawak, as one of the partners in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63) with Malaya and Sabah, to review the agreement.

“The Federal Constitution just states that Islam is the religion of the Federation.”

Masing, who is also a Sarawak deputy chief minister, warned that the federation could not have two systems of justice to govern the people.

“There’s no country in the world practising two sets of justice systems,” he pointed out. “It will not work in Malaysia as a plural society.”

He was commenting on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s remark that he was unable to state whether Umno MPs would support Hadi’s bill.

“According to parliamentary rules, the matter is listed fourth on the order paper and it is within the speaker’s powers to decide on this,” Zahid was quoted as telling the media at the lobby of Parliament earlier this week.” We leave it to the Speaker.”

Zahid, when pressed by the media, added the matter would be decided by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Masing noted that Umno’s support for the bill – ostensibly designed to elevate the status of the Shariah Court – has so far been ambivalent. However, many Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties besides PRS had already come out openly against the bill.

Hadi first tabled the private member’s bill on enhancing the powers of the Shariah Court on March 19 last year.

It seeks amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

The amendments are to empower Islamic courts to enforce punishments provided in shariah law for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution.

The federal law, at present, limits the power of the Shariah Court to a RM5,000 fine, six lashes and a jail term of not more than three years.