PAS MP blames party, Putrajaya for doomed Shariah Bill

By Ida Lim
Datuk Mahfuz Omar (pic) said Hadi should not have rushed to file the proposed amendments as a private member’s Bill and left the job to the federal government instead. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 ― A PAS MP today blamed his party and Putrajaya for the latter’s rejection of the private members Bill to increase Shariah punishments.

Datuk Mahfuz Omar claimed that it was PAS and the government’s rash and hasty move to push for these changes in the past that has resulted in the decision made yesterday by Barisan Nasional (BN).

He said the ultimate rejection yesterday by the ruling BN to support the proposed law amendment dubbed “RUU355” was due to the failure of both PAS and the federal government's failure to follow an agreed roadmap.

He pointed out that a technical committee composed of both the federal government and Kelantan government had previously decided that the RUU355 amendment was required in order to enforce Shariah offences in Kelantan.

“And the technical committee had agreed that RUU355 must be brought by the government, because this is a law under the federal government's jurisdiction. So to me, because they did not follow the roadmap, the whole matter became messy,” the Pokok Sena MP told reporters in Parliament today.

“I do not think if this was brought in a wise way as decided by the technical committee, I do not think BN component members would reject, because twice in 1984 and 1989, RUU355 was amended and accepted by BN component (parties) at that time,” he said.

“So to me, the mistake is we were so gelojoh (rash), politically rash in bring the RUU355 without respecting the technical committee,” he added.

Mahfuz said the PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang should not have filed in his private motion pushing for a Private Member's Bill on RUU355, as the task of pushing for the legal amendments for heavier Shariah penalties should have been left to the federal government to initiate.

“This private motion should not have been brought and the government should not have given way to this private motion, but instead the government should have carried it from the start - maybe not in this meeting, but taking time, after consultation with the Council of Rulers and so on,” he said.

“To me, if all quarters whether the Kelantan government and federal government or PAS itself followed the roadmap, I don't think people will reject,” he said.

Mahfuz said he did not believe the RUU355 would see the light of the day in Parliament, following BN's announcement yesterday that the federal government would not back the proposed amendments.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last night that BN would not be tabling the Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).

The RUU355 as proposed by Hadi seeks to raise the Shariah courts' sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes, up from its current limits of three years' jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes.