PM studying Sarawak BN’s opposition to Shariah Bill, CM says

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Abang Openg (centre) says the state Barisan Nasional’s views on the Bill have been submitted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, March 14 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is studying the Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s opposition to a Bill that will enhance the penalties imposed by the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, Chief Minister Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg said today.

“We have submitted our views to him yesterday and apparently, he is looking at it,” he told reporters after delivering his policy speech at a gathering of 1,500 senior civil servants here.

He said it is the state BN’s view that the Bill is contrary to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution on equality before the law for non-Muslims and Muslims convicted of the same offence.

“We have also made some suggestions to the prime minister on the Bill so let him divulge it,” he said, adding that the suggestions were made after Sarawak BN leaders had met with certain parties.

Abang Johari’s predecessor the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem had last year instructed all the state BN’s federal lawmakers to vote against the Bill in Parliament.

He had said that there was no place for hudud law in multiracial Sarawak.

Parliament, which is now in session, is due to debate the amendments to the Bill which was tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Awang Hadi, seeking to empower the Shariah courts by increasing its powers in meting out sentences.

It also proposed to empower the Shariah courts to impose maximum penalties which include up to 30 years’ jail, 100 strokes of the rotan and RM100,000 fine.

Currently, the Shariah courts are empowered to mete out sentences up from three years’ jail, six strokes of the rotan and RM5,000 fine.