BN might have backed Shariah Bill if details provided, minister tells PAS

BY KAMLES KUMAR
Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said BN could not have tabled the the amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act in Parliament when they did not fully understand it. ― Picture by Yusof M

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 ― Barisan Nasional (BN) would have been more supportive of PAS's private member's Bill to amend the Shariah Courts if more details had been provided from the beginning.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said BN could not have tabled the the amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act — better known as RUU355 in Parliament when they did not fully understand it.

She said that as a coalition, BN wished that PAS had provided more details about the Bill and why such an amendment was needed in the first place.

"I'm a Muslim but I must remember that there are a lot of non-Muslims that might also not understand it. Even people like us have not been given enough explanation. How can we support it? ," she told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby.

Nancy also said that certain parts of the Bill like the increase in caning proposed by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has to be amended first.

"I'm not saying it's all good but to a certain extend it will help but maybe they will have to amend certain parts of it. The caning, it's a bit too much," she explained.

The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu's (PBB) Batang Sadong lawmaker added that if BN went on with supporting the Bill, it might have further eroded support for them in their constituencies.

"By supporting in parliament; our people may think that we are disappointing then. They have given us this chance to do the part we have to play in Parliament," Nancy said.

Before pushing for the Bill in Parliament, Nancy also urged PAS to instead go on a nationwide roadshows to explain the the amendments in detail.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was previously reported saying the government would take over PAS’s proposal and convert it into a government Bill.

It sparked an outcry from the BN component parties, notably the MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PBB, the Sarawak ruling party.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak however announced last night that BN would not be tabling the Bill.

The announcement last night now removes 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; as he was only able to table the motion for his Bill last year after an Umno minister intervened to elevate it above government matters.

The RUU355 sought to raise Shariah sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes.