Leave Act 355 alone, ex-MP Tawfik tells PH

Former MP Tawfik Ismail, whose suit on the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act is due for a full hearing next month.

PETALING JAYA: Former MP Tawfik Ismail has protested against the government’s move to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, saying his suit on the matter is still pending in the courts.

Speaking to FMT, he said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh did wrong yesterday when she told the Dewan Negara that the government was ready to amend the act along with other pertinent laws in order to increase the powers of the Shariah Courts.

“She should not have brought it up,” he said.

Tawfik’s case is due for a full hearing on Oct 2. It was last heard in February, when the High Court rejected a bid by the then speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Pandikar Amin Mulia, to strike out the suit.

In his originating summons, Tawfik argued that Pandikar had violated the law when he allowed the bill to amend the act, also known as Act 355, to be tabled after conceding that it had never been referred to the Council of Rulers.

In her speech yesterday, Fuziah said the government was committed to empowering the Shariah Courts.

Tawfik commented: “This is an ongoing struggle by hardliners to push their agenda, regardless of the Federal Constitution.”

Human rights activist Siti Kasim also commented on Fuziah’s statement, saying she wondered why the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would bother about a private member’s bill originally tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

She pointed out that PH’s election manifesto did not even mention the bill.

She said she was one of many Malaysians who would not support “religion-centric individuals” in the government.

“In fact we will go out to campaign against these people before the next election,” she added.