PM: GOV­ERN­MENT WILL NOT TABLE BILL TO AMEND ACT 355

De­ci­sion made in the spirit of con­sen­sus by BN Supreme Coun­cil, says PM

New Straits Times - - Front Page - ADRIAN LAI AND ES­THER LAN­DAU KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

THE gov­ern­ment will not table a bill in Par­lia­ment to amend the Syariah Courts (Crim­i­nal Ju­ris­dic­tion) Act 1965, Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak said yes­ter­day.

He said the de­ci­sion was made “in the spirit of con­sen­sus” dur­ing last night’s Barisan Na­sional Supreme Coun­cil meet­ing.

“The BN Supreme Coun­cil has de­cided that the gov­ern­ment will not table the bill, in line with our pol­icy and prac­tice that BN makes de­ci­sions based on con­sen­sus,” said Na­jib, who is BN chair­man, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence af­ter chair­ing the meet­ing.

Na­jib said the bill would re­main as a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, which was first moved by Pas president Datuk Seri Ab­dul Hadi Awang in Par­lia­ment on May 26 last year.

“It is up to the (Par­lia­ment) speaker to de­cide. If the speaker de­cides that the bill will be tabled, then it will be tabled.”

He said BN would not make a stand on the mat­ter as it was still a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill.

On whether BN would sup­port the bill if it was tabled, Na­jib said: “It de­pends on the speaker’s rul­ing. We will take it from there. BN has no con­sen­sus on (the pri­vate mem­ber’s bill). We will not have a for­mal po­si­tion on (it). There may or may not be any vot­ing (on the bill). It’s up to the speaker to de­cide.”

Na­jib said BN be­lieved in the spirit of con­sen­sus, and that it would con­tinue on that ba­sis as the coali­tion was founded on that car­di­nal and fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple.

Present were Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from BN’s 13 com­po­nent par­ties.

It was re­ported re­cently that the gov­ern­ment would take over Hadi’s pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, and make it a gov­ern­ment bill when it was tabled in the present Par­lia­ment sit­ting.

It was also re­ported that BN had pro­posed a draft of its own amend­ment to the act, the de­tails of which were not re­vealed.

Zahid had, on March 18, dropped hints that the gov­ern­ment would table the bill, while Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment Datuk Seri Aza­lina Oth­man Said had, on Dec 1, said the gov­ern­ment would pick up the bill.

Sev­eral BN lead­ers from Sabah and Sarawak had voiced ob­jec­tions to the bill, while the pres­i­dents of MCA and Ger­akan had threat­ened to quit their po­si­tions in the cab­i­net if the bill was passed in Par­lia­ment.

The bill seeks to amend the act to em­power the Is­lamic courts to en­force pun­ish­ment, ex­cept for the death penalty, pro­vided in syariah laws for Is­lamic of­fences listed un­der state ju­ris­dic­tion in the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.

Syariah court pun­ish­ments are cur­rently lim­ited to jail terms not ex­ceed­ing three years, can­ing of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.

When met later, MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­ma­niam said Na­jib, dur­ing the meet­ing, felt that it was best that the gov­ern­ment did not table the bill.

Dr Subra­ma­niam also re­vealed that more than 300 BN lead­ers, in­clud­ing Na­jib, would at­tend a re­treat soon to pre­pare for the next gen­eral elec­tion, which would be held as early as this year.

On an­other mat­ter, Na­jib said the gov­ern­ment would is­sue a state­ment “when the time comes” on the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with North Korea to se­cure the re­lease of the nine Malaysians cur­rently

stranded in Py­ongyang.

“I hope we can re­main pa­tient be­cause things like this in­volve ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween coun­tries and it’s sen­si­tive. What is im­por­tant is the out­come, meaning the safety of our Malaysians in Py­ongyang.”

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