KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The Federal Constitution needs to be "corrected" to reflect Islam's true position within the federation, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said today, calling on Muslim MPs to support his private members' bill to elevate the status of Shariah courts in the country.
The PAS president added that it is time the country's highest law accords Muslims the same freedoms given to other religions in the country, especially in the implementation of Shariah law.
"It is not appropriate for the Constitution not to side with Muslims in implementing Shariah law, when other religions are free and Islam is the religion of the federation," he said at a news conference after attending his party's central committee meeting.
"This must be corrected," he added.
Last week, Abdul Hadi submitted two private members' bills to Parliament, one of which seeks to amend the Shariah Courts Act (Jurisdiction) 1995 to allow a wider range of punishment that can be meted out by Shariah courts nationwide for offences committed by Muslims.
The other bill, which was among the reasons behind a protracted spat between PAS and Pakatan Rakyat partner DAP, aims to amend the Federal Constitution to allow Kelantan to implement an Islamic penal code to deal with criminal cases involving Muslims.
PAS assistant secretary-general Datuk Mohd Takiyuddin Hassan today explained that the bill on the Syariah Court Act zooms in specifically to Section 2 of the law, which currently allows Shariah courts at all levels to mete out maximum punishments of three years' jail, RM5,000 fine or six strokes of the rotan.
He argued that this is less than the amount of power afforded to the magistrate's court, which can penalise offenders with up to five years' jail, RM10,000 fine or 12 strokes of the rotan.
"The amendments in the bill are so that the criminal jurisdiction of Shariah courts nationwide is upgraded. It only needs a simple majority and the act is clear that it only applies to Muslims," Mohd Takiyuddin said.