Deputy PM Zahid Just Promised That The BN Government Will Table The Syariah Bill

The proposal to amend this act has been listed at this term's Dewan Rakyat sitting.

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RUU355, the Bill to amend Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 seeking to enhance the powers of Syariah Court, will now be tabled by the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi promised UMNO members

DPM Zahid told UMNO members, 17 March, that the action was consistent with the desire of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Prime Minister Najib Razak is committed to bringing up the amendments without damaging the interests of other races and religions in the country, Zahid added.

Bill 355 was first presented by PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as a Private Member in the House of Commons in May 2016 to strengthen the Syariah Court.

"Bill 355 will be tabled by the government in Parliament soon. Insha Allah by praying for us to unite the Malays," Zahid told UMNO members.

He also urged them to support the deal reached by UMNO in being friendly with an opposition party for the sake of national prosperity and religion, saying that in politics, there were no permanent friends or enemies.

RUU355 has divided the public opinion. Those who oppose the bill have called it unconstitutional, but its supporters argue otherwise.

Lawyer Lukman Sheriff Alias, who supports the RUU355 amendments, claims that due to the Constitutional restrictions, RUU 355 does not introduce hudud.

He said that the current amendments only seek to increase the limits of punishment.

"In Malaysia, we have about six to seven types of offences that are a form of hudud, and these have applied to Muslims for a long time, predating the Federal Constitution. The difference now is that sentences are being increased, but even this is not new, it has been done before in 1984," Lukman was quoted as saying by The Star Online.

Former Bersih chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who is against the bill, has questioned the need to increase the sentences without specifying the offences.

While saying that there was nothing wrong with wanting to empower the Syariah Courts, she argued that increasing the severity of punishments was not the way to do it.

"The offence must be clearly defined and this RUU does not define any offence. I believe there are problems with RUU 355. Even if you say it's constitutional, there are other problems," Ambiga was quoted as saying by Astro AWANI.

Image via Astro AWANI

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