We respect, understand gov't's decision on RUU355: Pas

ARFA YUNUS

KUALA LUMPUR: The government's decision not to take over Pas' Private Member's Bill, dubbed RUU355, is understandable, as Barisan Nasional (BN) practices the spirit of consensus, said Pas Youth Chief, Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz.

He said although the Islamic party is a little disappointed, it understands and respects the decision, adding that the move will not break its spirit.

"We just take it that Umno could not convince their component parties. Besides, BN practices the spirit of consensus, which is why they had to make this decision.

"But this will not affect us at all. We will stick to the plan and hopefully, RUU355 will be debated openly in the Dewan Rakyat," he told reporters when met at Parliament here today.

Echoing Nik Abduh’s remark was Pas vice-president, Idris Ahmad, who said that the party will continue to fight in its effort to empower the Shariah courts, even "till the end of time".

When asked if Pas feels cheated by BN, Idris said although they are disappointed, the Islamic party does not have any problem with the ruling coalition.

On the other hand, Pas' Rantau Panjang MP, Siti Zailah Muhd Yusoff, expressed concern over the decision with regard to cases of children born out of wedlock, which she described as "a big issue involving the country's dignity.”

"It is estimated that there are at least half a million illegitimate children in the country. This is why we want to amend the Act.

"No matter what happens, we will continue to fight for this, and I hope that once the Act is tabled by our president, it will be supported by other Members of Parliament," she told the press.

Pas is currently seeking to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to empower the Shariah Courts.

The bill seeks to amend the Act, also known as Act 355 or RUU355, to empower Islamic courts to enforce punishment, except for the death penalty, provided in Shariah laws for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution.

The bill, which was first moved by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, seeks to increase the Shariah Courts’ punishment caps to a 30 year jail term, a fine of up to RM100,000, and up to 100 strokes of the cane.

Currently, the Shariah criminal punishment is capped at a three year prison term, a RM5,000 fine, and six strokes of the cane.