KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 ― The Dewan Rakyat should not allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's Bill proposing harsher Shariah penalties to go on for debate out of respect for both the country's Rulers and the court process, Tawfik Mohamed Ismail said.
In a letter to the Dewan Rakyat speaker and secretary, Tawfik’s lawyers said their client had learnt that Hadi's motion was still listed in the Dewan Rakyat's order paper and is slated for tabling and debate.
“We would like to reiterate that to date there has been no indication to show that Hadi’s Motion has received the consent of the Conference of Rulers.
“The tabling and debating of Hadi’s Motion is, therefore, a contradiction of and contravenes with Article 38 of the Federal Constitution,” they said in the letter sent on behalf of the son of the late former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.
In his lawsuit filed in March, Tawfik had claimed Hadi's Bill proposing heftier Shariah penalties by the Shariah courts would change “national policy”, and must first be referred to the Conference of Rulers for consultation and consent as required by Article 38.
Article 38 states, among others, that the Conference of Rulers “may deliberate on questions of national policy” and any other matter that it thinks fit.
In the letter, the lawyers noted the Johor Sultan saying in an October 27 news report that “ it was public knowledge that Islamic matters fell under a state’s jurisdiction, as stipulated in the Federation of Malaysia agreement”.
They also noted that the Perak Sultan had on his November 5 birthday celebration issued the Wasiat Raja-Raja Melayu dating August 5, 1957, which had also listed several constitutional clauses including Article 38(5) to say that the Conference of Rulers' consent was needed before any parliamentary amendment can take effect.
“We wish to state that continuing to include Hadi’s Motion in the Order Paper of the Dewan Rakyat for its tabling and debate in this session is amounting to a contravention of and in discordance with the Federal Constitution.
“It contradicts and is not in concordance with your oath of office and allegiance to protect and defend the Federal Constitution as provided for under the Sixth Schedule of the Federal Constitution,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers also pointed out the Speaker's previous decisions on the principle of sub judice where matters before the courts were disallowed for tabling or debate, saying that Tawfik's lawsuit falls within that principle and arguing that Hadi's motion should not be tabled for debate in Parliament.
“In view of the foregoing, our client once again urges you not to continue tabling the said Hadi’s Motion for debate in Parliament for the sake of our Loyalty to King and Country, the Supremacy of the Constitution, the upholding of the Rule of Law and out of respect for the Conference of Rulers in handling the issue,” they concluded.
Tawfik's lawyer Mansoor Saat confirmed to Malay Mail Online that the letter was sent yesterday to the Speaker and receipt of the letter was acknowledged.
The letter was addressed to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah. Both are respondents in Tawfik's lawsuit.
Hadi’s motion to propose his Private Member’s Bill is in the Order Papers for the ongoing Dewan Rakyat meeting running from October 23 to November 30, the seventh time it has formally entered Parliament’s agenda.
Hadi’s motion, which was listed as the seventh item in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Papers on Thursday and next Monday, has not advanced to the second reading and debate phase.
He is seeking 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.