KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Barisan Nasional had already decided that they would allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to be tabled but not debated, party leaders confirmed today.
MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said the decision to postpone the debate for the Shariah courts (criminal jurisdiction) amendment bill had already been made during the previous BN Supreme Council meeting.
“The decision was to allow PAS to present their case and there was agreement that there won’t be voting today. So as far as that is concerned, we followed the decision in the BN Council,” he told reporters when met outside Parliament today.
When asked to explain further, Dr Subramaniam said “Within the BN we have proposed our stand that it is best not to go for an open debate.”
The Health Minister added that MIC however was prepared to debate against the Bill if they had been given the chance by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.
“If the Speaker had actually opened it for other parties to participate in the debate, then we would have given our view points, from the constitutional legal point of view on what is the opinion of MIC as far as this is concerned,” Subramaniam added.
He also refuted the claims made by PAS leaders that non-Muslims would not be affected by the amendment and instead pointed out that backtracking of a previous amendment showed otherwise.
“Despite that there were some concerns, for example Article 121A when it was first amended, there was this same consolation given that non-Muslims will never be affected but subsequently we have the cases like Indira Gandhi case despite those assurances being given,” Dr Subramaniam explained.
Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup also said that the there was a BN consensus to only allow the Bill to be tabled.
“There was actually a decision but only to introduce (the Bill) and that’s it,” he told reporters when met.
Putrajaya yesterday rushed five federal bills and deferred four more in a marathon sitting that lasted 20 hours to pave way to the PAS president’s private member’s bill to amend Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to be on top of order paper today.
However, after initial presentation and secondment of the bill, Pandikar deferred debates to the next session.