PAS veep insists public understanding not needed to pass RUU355

BY KAMLES KUMAR
Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah (left) dismissed the result of a public poll yesterday that found nearly three-quarters of Malay voters are clueless about the RUU355. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 ― Public consent and understanding, even from Muslims, are not necessary to pass a Bill that aims to allow harsher Shariah punishments on the community, PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah has said.

The Kelantan deputy mentri besar dismissed the result of a public poll yesterday that found nearly three-quarters of Malay voters are clueless about the Bill, better known by its Malay short form, RUU355.

“Not everyone in the country knows and understands the law. If you wait for everyone to understand it first, when can you ever implement the law?” Nik Amar told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

He also compared it to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“It was the same with GST, not a lot of people understood or even knew about it but the federal government went ahead with it.”

The consumption tax was passed by Dewan Rakyat in April 2014 and had started a year after. It remains a controversial issues nearly two years since its implementation.

Invoke Centre for Policy Initiatives published a study today showing that 70.1 per cent of the 43,030 Malay or Bumiputera voters polled in a recent survey were oblivious of the Bill.

In addition, over half, or 54.3 per cent of those who said they will be voting PAS in the next polls also admitted they did not know about the Bill.

This despite Nik Amar saying that PAS has begun educating its members, as well as having talks and forums for all Muslims nationwide to educate them on the private member's Bill proposed by its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

“People will understand it slowly, we have to educate them slowly.

“We are already having talks and meeting with all our members. We also will be engaging with all concerned parties,” he explained.

Hadi's proposal aimed to raise the ceiling on Shariah punishments from three years’ imprisonment, six strokes of the cane and an RM5,000 fine to 30 years’ imprisonment, 100 strokes, and an RM100,000 fine.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi was reported to have announced that the Barisan Nasional will table amendments to the same Act directly, despite internal objections from several component parties.