Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to expand the powers of shariah courts will be tabled for debate at the Dewan Rakyat at next month’s sitting, he confirmed today.
The bill had been tabled in May in a surprise move by the government giving it priority over government legislation, but Hadi, who is MP for Marang, had asked that the debate be postponed.
“Yes, yes,” he was reported to have said today when asked about the bill after he paid a courtesy visit to the Federation of Hokkien Associations in Kuala Lumpur.
Hadi’s bill has been labelled the Hudud Bill by some politicians because the criminal penalties proposed include those relating to hudud. The bill seeks to expand the shariah courts’ jurisdiction to impose criminal punishments, except for the death penalty.
Shariah courts operate under state law. However, a federal statute must be amended to enable expanded jurisdiction. Hadi’s bill seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965
In his speech to the Hokkien federation, Hadi reiterated that shariah courts had no legal jurisdiction over non-Muslims, according to Star Online.
“The Muslims have their own laws, while the non-Muslims have their own respective laws. We need to respect that,” he was quoted as saying. “If the non-Muslims choose to be tried under Islamic laws, we can accept it. However, our federal constitution does not allow that.”
Hadi said there was no assurance that his bill would receive support from Muslim MPs of Umno, DAP or PKR. The bill requires 112 votes to pass by a simple majority. Umno (86) and PAS (14) have 100 seats, There are 24 opposition Muslim MPs from PKR (16), Amanah (6), and DAP (2).
A constitutional amendment would require a two-third majority, or 148 votes. There are a total of 130 Muslim MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
FMT Reporters Online