Sarawak federal lawmaker Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing asserted that he has not “betrayed” non-Muslims by refusing to condemn a controversial move to strengthen the Islamic courts’ punitive powers.
The Bintulu MP who is also president of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, a component of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), asserted that he was merely telling others to consider PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s proposal to amend the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.
“All parties should carefully and rationally view this private Bill aimed to increase the punishment imposed in Syariah Court, it has nothing to do with implementation of Hudud law,” he was quoted by The Borneo Post today as saying in a statement.
He said his party did not join in the condemnation of the Bill because Abdul Hadi had only “expressed a wish” to amend the Shariah courts powers, adding that party leaders did not believe in judging his Bill prematurely.
“We must also respect the will of the Muslims if what are proposed in the amendment of the Syariah Act do not affect non-Muslims.
“I stress that I have not betrayed any religion and ignore the interests of non-Muslims,” he added.
Abdul Hadi tabled a tweak of his private member’s Bill to amend Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 yesterday. However, he deferred it to the next Dewan Rakyat meeting next year.
The amended version of Hadi’s Bill seeks to increase the Shariah punishment ceiling to 30 years’ prison, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.
Tiong reportedly said the stiffer punishments could help Muslims observe the law better.
Unlike Tiong, the leaders of several other BN component parties namely MCA, Gerakan and MIC remain critical of the PAS president’s Bill and have promised to resign their government positions if the proposal is passed.
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has said that state lawmakers have been told not to vote for the Bill when the time comes.
Source : The Malay Mail Online