KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 ― The private member’s Bill by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is not meant to implement hudud laws, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
The Umno president claimed that the Bill instead aimed to only give the Shariah Courts power to mete out caning as punishment for any shariah offences, describing the whole issue as a “misunderstanding”.
“I would like to clarify to our friends in Barisan Nasional that there was a misunderstanding. When Abdul Hadi tabled the Bill, people assumed it’s for hudud.
“I would like to state that it is not for the implementation of hudud. It is just to give the Shariah Courts enhanced punishments. From six strokes caning to a few more, depending on the offences,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here.
Malay Mail Online obtained a recording of the press conference.
Yesterday Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia allowed a government motion to expedite Abdul Hadi's Bill for debate, although the PAS president subsequently asked for the debate to be deferred to the next parliamentary meeting in October.
The Bill seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to empower the Islamic courts to impose any punishment allowed by shariah law except the death sentence.
Currently, Shariah Court punishments are limited to jail terms not exceeding three years, or whipping of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.
The move to expedite the Bill was strongly criticised by leaders from the ruling coalition's non-Muslim component parties. Earlier today, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP issued a joint statement expressing concern over the Bill that they said contravened Article 8 of the Federal Constitution on equality before the law.
But Najib said there was no cause for alarm, claiming the proposed law would be confined to Muslims.
“This will only involve Muslims. And even the caning, it would be done the Islamic way -- which is not meant to cause grave injury,” he said.
Najib also said the Bill would have to be subject to various processes before it could be passed, including acquiring consent from the Conference of Rulers.