MCA will only vote to amend Shariah Act if moved by govt

Liow-Tiong-Lai

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA’s stand when it comes to PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion to amend the Shariah Act is simple.

The party will not vote for it, unless a similar Bill is moved by the government, says its President Liow Tiong Lai.

He said this was because he was confident that if the government took up Hadi’s Private Member’s Bill, it would be amended in ways that were in accordance to the Federal Constitution.

“If the government moves a similar bill, they will do it based on the spirit of the Federal Constitution, and so I will vote for it,” he told the press at the Parliament lobby here today.

“But as to the Private Member’s Bill, MCA has stated its stance clearly, which is we will vote against it.”

Liow added that Hadi’s current proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 did not conform with the Federal Constitution.

Hadi’s motion was first tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on May 26, seeking to equip Islamic courts with greater punitive power.

Hadi moved the Bill again this afternoon, but with a slight amendment to his original Bill. The amended version caps the Islamic courts’ power to mete out sentences to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine, and 100 lashes.

Currently, Shariah punishment is capped at three years’ prison term, RM5,000 fine, and six lashes..

MIC President Dr S Subramaniam stood firmly on the party’s stance to oppose Hadi’s proposal, which he said was merely a way for PAS to one day implement hudud law.

“While many have deemed it to be unconstitutional, to date no one has been successful in challenging its legality,” he said in a statement distributed at the Parliament today.

“MIC is of the view that the Federal Constitution has provided the moral, social and legal basis for the development of this nation and created the Malaysia that we know today.

“Any proposal which goes against the spirit of the Constitution should be rejected.”

Gerakan President Mah Siew Keong echoed the same remark, telling reporters of his disagreement with the Bill’s present format.

He also said the reason he was in the Dewan Rakyat today, was because he thought the motion would be put to vote.

“(And) If they had (put it to vote), I would have voted against it,” added Mah.