PETALING JAYA: Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has sought to correct a PAS assumption that Parti Amanah Negara is categorically opposed to proposals to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.
Speaking to FMT, he said PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Man had shown that he could not distinguish between opposition to the bill and a protest against Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia’s abrupt decision last Thursday to defer debate on it.
Khalid, who is Amanah’s communications director, was commenting on Tuan Ibrahim’s assertion to the effect that Amanah’s and DAP’s reactions to the Thursday episode justified PAS’s decision to shun the two parties.
Khalid said it was inaccurate to say that Amanah MPs were opposed to the bill. Rather, he added, they were opposed to Pandikar Amin’s decision to interrupt the debate until the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.
“Tuan Ibrahim has no justification whatsoever to say Amanah is downright opposing the bill,” he said. “We are opposing the fact that the debate was cut short. We want to improve on the bill and the only way for that to happen is if there is fair debate on it.”
He said DAP and Amanah had different arguments against the tabling of the bill.
“DAP is saying it is unconstitutional and asking what Barisan Nasional component parties like MIC, MCA and Gerakan have to say about the debate getting cut short, and this is a fair question.
“Amanah, on the other hand, believes PAS’ approach to strengthening the shariah courts has missed the mark.”
He said the problem with the bill was that it was proposing harsher punishments without giving clear guidelines on their application.
“It’s like handing a loaded gun to a person and letting him do whatever he wants with it.
“If the proposed amendments are passed the way they are, people who preach without credentials can serve 10 years in jail.
“Meanwhile, we know that 100 lashes are supposed to be reserved for Muslim couples who commit zina (fornication), but if you pass the bill the way it is, then couples who are guilty only of khalwat (close proximity) can get 100 lashes too.”
He also asked why PAS was putting so much emphasis on jail sentences, lashings and fines while ignoring the option of social work as punishment.
“What about social work? Why don’t you make it so that when a couple is found to have committed khalwat, they have to help out at orphanages for a month so they realise some of the implications of having illegitimate children?
“For those who skip Friday prayers, why don’t you send them to clean up mosques every day for a month?
“These are things we can bring up only if there is a proper debate.”