Hadi’s explanation on shariah bill unconvincing, says MCA

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KUALA LUMPUR: The motion to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 355 was not fully tabled in the Dewan Rakyat because PAS merely described the resolutions proposed in the bill at today’s Parliament sitting, says MCA.

PAS, through its president Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang), tabled a motion to amend the law to allow shariah courts in the country to mete out harsher punishments to shariah offences. The bill seeks a maximum 30 years’ jail, 100 strokes of the cane and RM100,000 for fines.

The rationale for the bill, as explained by PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS-Kota Bharu), however has not convinced MCA to support the bill.

“The motion is incomplete as PAS only provided a description of the private member’s bill to be tabled. That was it,” said Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

“A debate, even until tomorrow morning – as occurred yesterday – would not have solved anything because of the difference of opinions. MCA’s stand remains the same.”

The MCA deputy president said his party was adamant in its rejection of Act 355.

“Whatever it is, Hadi and Takiyuddin have been given the opportunity to explain the bill to Parliament.”

MIC, meanwhile, said the MPs would have presented their arguments based on the Federal Constitution if the Dewan Rakyat speaker had allowed the debate to proceed.

“While we appreciate the views and explanations given today, there are some concerns.

“For example, when they wanted to amend Article 121A (of the Federal Constitution), they guaranteed that the rights of non-Muslims would not be affected, but then now, we have cases like that of Indira Gandhi,” said MIC president Dr S Subramaniam (BN-Segamat).

During his presentation in Parliament, Hadi slammed Muslim and non-Muslim MPs opposed to the motion, calling such opposition contrary to the culture of “mature and united politics”.

Hadi questioned why the penalty for keeping certain species of birds was higher than the penalty for heresy and why the penalty for failing to pay spousal maintenance imposed by the shariah court was lower than that imposed by the civil courts.

“Islam is the official religion, but Muslims in the country don’t benefit fully.”

Immediately after PAS finished speaking, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia prevented a debate on the motion from taking place by announcing that the motion was being postponed to the next sitting.

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