KUALA LUMPUR: PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang today used the platform meant for debates on Budget 2017 to promote his goal of amending the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
Spending most of the time allocated to him addressing concerns over the proposed amendments, Hadi said this was not the first time such a motion was taken to Parliament.
“It was brought here in 1965 when amendments to the Act were passed without any problems.
“At the time, Singapore was still part of Malaysia and its founding father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, was also present in Parliament then.
“There were no objections when it was amended again in 1988. But when I filed the motion, there were parties raising issues, fearing problems,” said Hadi (PAS-Marang).
He reiterated that the amendments applied only to the Muslims and had nothing to do with other races.
Hadi also rubbished claims that the bill was a backdoor for PAS to someday implement hudud.
Chong Chieng Jen (Bandar Kuching-DAP) interjected, asking Hadi why he was insisting on pushing for the amendments despite Sabah and Sarawak MPs vowing to vote against it.
Chong claimed Hadi had allowed PAS to be used as a tool by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Sabah and Sarawak MPs have stated they will not support your motion as it is against the spirit in the formation of Malaysia.
“Can we know what is the secret deal between you and Najib that resulted in the breaking up of the Opposition, ensuring Umno’s continued rule?”
Hadi, in response, denied any ulterior motives and stated that he had pushed for the amendments since the 1990s.
It was only allowed to be debated in the Dewan after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said, at the last sitting, proposed for Hadi’s private member’s motion to be expedited.
The debate is expected to take place some time during the current parliamentary sitting.
Hadi’s Bill seeks to increase shariah courts’ powers in meting out sentences for offences under the act.
Currently, punishment is limited to three years’ jail, a RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.