GEORGE TOWN: A PAS leader has assured that Muslim parliamentarians of the various parties are not being intimidated or forced into voting for a bill to increase the punitive powers of shariah courts.
PAS central working committee member Mohamed Fadzli Hassan said the party is adhering to legal and constitutional processes in promoting the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang at the Dewan Rakyat last year.
He denied that the urgency to ensure a simple house majority to enable the amendments to be approved is causing PAS to place undue pressure on Muslims MPs to vote favourably on the basis of their religion.
Hadi’s private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 is expected to be up for the vote when Parliament convenes again next month.
Fadzli also said there was no truth to the claim that MPs who do not support the bill, are being threatened with social stigmatisation.
“They should actually vote in favour of (the bill). But we cannot force them.
“We have democracy, Parliament, freedom of choice and so on. We respect that,” he told the press after addressing a public meeting titled “Hudud or No Hudud?” here last night.
On Hadi’s assertion that it is compulsory for Muslims to support the bill, Fadzli said: “Muslims must support hudud (Islamic criminal punishment) because it is a law from God. But if they don’t support, what can we do?”
Hadi had on April 7, 2015, told reporters that Muslims, whether from PAS, Barisan Nasional or other opposition parties, have an obligation to support the bill.
Fadzli, who is deputy head of PAS’s standing committee on law and human rights as well as being a Kelantan state executive councillor, said Hadi had postponed the tabling of the motion twice before because he did not believe it would get the majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said this after addressing the public meeting which was held at the YMCA hall here last night to explain PAS’s position on hudud.
Also present was Kelantan federal hudud technical committee member Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani.
The event saw a sparse audience that included PAS members and supporters, journalists and about a dozen non-Muslim members of the public.
Fadzli said the meeting was held to make people appreciate the move being undertaken by PAS.
“Hopefully, when they understand, they will vote in favour of (the bill)”, he said in emphasising PAS’s strategy to convince the public and lawmakers through dialogue.
Asked about criticism levelled by PAS members on PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for not voicing support for the bill, he suggested that there may be some bad apples.
“When we have hundreds of thousands of followers then there are bound to be people like that,” he said.
Omar Hassan, who is the Permatang Pauh PAS chairman, is one of the critics who had declared on April 22, 2015, in the run-up to PKR president Wan Azizah successfully contesting the Permatang Pauh by-election, that she should apologise to PAS because she had rejected hudud.
In a statement on Feb 10 this year, Wan Azizah said PKR accepted and recognised Hadi’s right to submit the bill despite having concerns and reservations on the matter.
“In the event of a debate on the motion, and before we move on to make the next decision, we will wait for Hadi’s explanations,” she said.
Fadzli stressed that PAS will accept whatever the outcome in parliament.
“If it is passed, then we accept it. But if it does not go through, then we will accept it as well.
“But if a majority of the MPs endorse the bill, then as far as the Malaysian legal system is concerned, what has been endorsed and passed by Parliament is considered as good law,” he added.
The private member’s bill tabled by Hadi last year seeks to give wider powers to shariah courts on punishing Muslim offenders, including an increase in the current jail term from three to 30 years, a fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane.