KUALA LUMPUR – May 30, 2016: It maybe controversial but to simply stop the misunderstood private members’ bill seeking to amend the Syaria Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act from being read in Parliament is unconstitutional.
According to several law experts, Members of Parliament from Marang, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, submitted the bill lawfully.
“It is within his rights and privileges as an MP to submit and table bills,” said law practitioner Zaki Azmi.
“So if some are trying to pressure the government to stop the bill from being tabled and discussed then wouldn’t that be an attempt to stifle his rights?
“It’s not as if the matter is already a done deal,” Zaki said.
“He just wants it to be tabled, read and debated in Parliament.
“At the end of the day those (MPs) who disagree with Hadi can always use their rights to vote against his bill.”
The bill, dubbed as ‘Hadi’s bill’, had gained nationwide notoriety, particularly among non-Muslims, as several news reports have insinuated that Hudud law will be implemented with the passing of the bill.
However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had already clarified that the bill is not a bill to implement Hudud but is only a bill to enhance the number of strokes of caning for certain offences to Muslims in Kelantan.
Obviously many chose to not understand or are simply clueless of the matter as criticisms over the bill continued to reverberate over the weekend with many urging the MPs from Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition to stop the bill from being tabled and discussed in Parliament.
The latest to echo such cries was, interestingly, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia.
The hype over the bill was so intense up to the point that the presidents from the Malaysian Chinese Association, Malaysian Indian Congress, Gerakan and United Sabah People’s Party want to put a stop to the bill.
Be that as it may, the present roaring criticisms over the bill seem rather odd considering the fact that this is the second time a proposed amendment to the Act is being made.
“It was not a big question way back in 1984 when it was first amended,” said Constitutional expert Associate Professor Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz from International Islamic University Malaysia.
Like Zaki, she also said that it was unconstitutional for anyone to pressure the government to prevent Hadi from tabling and debating his bill in Parliament.
“What those who are against the bill fail to realise is that there are no provisions within our constitution that can simply cancel the reading of any bills.
“The introduction of the bill does not contradict any procedures regulating the Parliament. However, the government must also explain why they had decided to fast-track the bill,” she told The Mole.
On claims that the passing of Hadi’s bill would consequently lead to a separation of laws governing Muslims and non-Muslim in Malaysia, both Shamrahayu and Zaki said that it was highly unlikely.
The general contention was that if a non-Muslim and Muslim murdered someone they will both be put to trial in different cause despite committing the same offence.
“That will not happen because not all criminal offenses are punishable under our Syaria law,” Zaki said, “In this case, religion does not matter because both will be charged under our Penal Code.”
“In fact, most of the offences listed in our Syaria law are very Muslim-centric offenses like promiscuity, not fasting during Ramadan and pre-marital sex,” Zaki added.
“The bill neither transfers the powers of the Federal court to the Syaria court nor does it seek to transfer offences in the Penal Code or in the Criminal Act into the Syaria Criminal Enactment,” said Shamrahayu.
“It only enlarges and enhances the powers of the state legislative assembly to create new possible punishments that can be brought upon the Syaria court,” she added.