Malaysian Bar reserves comment on Putrajaya’s plan for Shariah Bill

By Ida Lim
Malaysian Bar President George Varughese speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2017. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Incoming Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said today it was premature to judge the government’s proposal on enhancing the powers of the Shariah courts.

George, who was elected Malaysian Bar president this afternoon, noted that the contents of the proposal mentioned by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were not yet known.

“I think it’s a little premature at this stage to comment on that because we really don’t know what is going to be presented,” he told reporters here.

“Yes, the DPM did say it will be presented, but we are not sure whether it will be presented.”

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly said the federal government will table a Bill soon to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355.

The Act currently restricts the Shariah courts’ sentencing powers to a maximum of three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has proposed to raise these via a private member’s Bill, the latest version of which seeks to increase the limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane.
Hadi’s Bill is currently in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper, which is also its appearance in its fifth parliamentary meeting to date.