KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Barisan Nasional will not table amendments to increase Shariah punishments being sought by PAS, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
The prime minister and BN chairman said this was decided by the coalition following its supreme council meeting this evening.
“Therefore it will remain a Private Member’s Bill and if it is presented, it will depend on the Speakers instructions,” he was quoted as saying by the Star Online news portal.
BN previously said it would take over PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's proposal and convert it into a government Bill eventually.
Tonight's announcement will remove the obligation that would have existed for BN federal lawmakers to support the amendments were these tabled by the government.
Hadi’s Bill may now fail to even surface in Parliament; he was only able to table the motion for his Bill last year after an Umno minister intervened to elevate it above government matters.
Aside from Umno, the Bill to raise Shariah sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane has been opposed by BN components.
Umno has used the issue to court federal opposition party PAS ostensibly for Malay-Muslim unity.
Najib's announcement could also prompt changes to the political landscape in which PAS had been drifting away from other opposition parties and aligning itself with Umno, the only party to openly support the former's ambitions on Islamic laws.