Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg renewed today the state government’s rejection of a federal Bill to strengthen the Shariah courts’ punitive powers.
His predecessor Tan Sri Adenan Satem had previously directed all Sarawak MPs not to vote for the proposed amendment to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 as it was not in line with the Federal Constitution.
“I have given an assurance before and as far as we are concerned, we will not support the Bill. That has been our stand and we have not changed it.
“That is the stand of Tok Nan before and we will follow that stand,” Abang Jo told reporters after chairing the state Cabinet meeting here.
He took over as chief minister after Adenan died from heart problems last month.
When he was still deputy chief minister, Abang Jo had also rebuffed the Bill proposed by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
Abang Johari explained that the state’s opposition to the Bill was not just because it conflicted with the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 but also because of the state’s multi-racial and multi-religious character.
“As such, there will be no hudud law in Sarawak,” he said.
He added that he will issue a fresh directive to all Sarawak federal lawmakers to reject the Bill when it is raised for voting in Parliament.
Abang Jo was responding to a call by Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian two days ago for a reassurance that his state administration will keep Adenan’s pledge to reject the Bill to amend the law known as Act 355, which is expected to be debated when the Dewan Rakyat convenes next month.
The Bill, tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang last year as a private member’s Bill, proposes to increase Shariah punishment caps to a maximum 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.
It previously sought to remove all limits to Shariah punishments save for the death penalty.
Shariah court punishments are currently limited to jail terms not exceeding three years, whipping of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.
At the Umno general assembly last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the federal government would take over from Hadi to amend Act 355.
Source : @ Malay Mail Online