KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — The son of the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman has written to the Conference of Malay Rulers to highlight the Speaker of Parliament’s alleged disregard of their authority over religious matters.
In a letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to convey the contents of his earlier writings to the royals, Mohamed Tawfik Ismail reiterated his insistence that PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s so-called Shariah Bill must be approved by the Malay Rulers before it may be tabled in Parliament.
Tawfik told Pandikar that he notified the Conference that the Speaker refused to acknowledge this, which was among reasons he was suing to block the progress of the private member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355.
“The letter was also meant to draw the attention of the Rulers to the serious constitutional crisis arising from the Speaker’s refusal to take cognisance of the provisions of the Federal Constitution, particularly Articles 38 and 62, together with his refusal to consider whether Hadi’s Motion and RUU 355 have fulfilled the conditions of Order 49(1) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
“It should be remembered that Hadi’s Motion and RUU 355 are within the jurisdiction of the Rulers as Heads of religion in their respective states as guaranteed by Article 71 of the Federal Constitution,” Tawfik wrote.
Tawfik said he sent the letter to the Conference on July 20 via the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, and wrote to inform Pandikar of this the next day.
Among others, he insisted that the Speaker must not allow Hadi’s Bill, which is back in the current Order Papers, to be debated in Parliament out of respect for the Malay Rulers who are the final authority over Islamic affairs.
Tawfik filed the lawsuit in March and sought for the courts to declare the proposal to increase Shariah sentencing to be in breach of the Federal Constitution and parliamentary procedure.
He is also seeking 10 declarations and orders that would effectively stop Hadi from tabling his private member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.
Hadi is proposing to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits from the current three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes to a new maximum of 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.
Tawfik named Pandikar and Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah as respondents in his lawsuit.
Dr Ismail was the deputy to the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who was the country’s second prime minister.