SABAK BERNAM, May 28 ― PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang insisted that the private member's Bill he tabled in Parliament to expand the range of punishments the shariah courts can impose was not meant to introduce hudud law in Kelantan.
Hadi said that he was merely trying to “uplift” the status of the shariah court and blamed the DAP's “fear” in creating the controversy surrounding his Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
“This is not a hudud Bill. Many people do not understand that,” he told a press conference after announcing PAS's candidate for the Sungai Besar by-election last night.
“What I see is there is an agenda by DAP to try and portray Islam in a bad light. They are afraid these laws will get a good response from non-Muslims,” the head of the Islamist opposition party added.
The Bill seeks to empower shariah courts to enforce punishments ― except for the death penalty ― provided in shariah laws for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution, without elaborating on the nature of the punishments. Shariah court punishments are currently limited to jail terms not exceeding three years, or whipping of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.
It was fast tracked by the government in Parliament Thursday, only for Hadi to ask for the Bill to be deferred to the next parliamentary meeting in October.
Besides the DAP, non-Muslim Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP have criticised Hadi’s Bill, saying that it contravened Article 8 of the Federal Constitution on equality before the law.
Hadi said that his proposed legal amendments only seek to increase the ambit of the Shariah Court to mete out punishments such as “Islamic” caning.
The Marang MP said many other hudud punishments, which include stoning and amputations, under the Islamic criminal law were not enabled by these suggested amendments.
“This does not cover or enable all the hudud and qazaf punishments,” he said.
“Qazaf” refers to the false accusation of illicit sex.
“This is a matter concerning Muslims. Non-Muslims have nothing to do with this,” Hadi said.
He claimed that the opposition to such laws shows Islam is “not free” in the country.
“Our Constitution says Islam is the religion of the federation but other religions are free to practise. But why [are Muslims] not free to practise (Islamic laws)?” he questioned.