Hadi tables RUU355, says it’s not to implement hudud

Supporters of the RUU355 bill outside Parliament today. The Marang MP is sponsoring the bill to amend the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 6, 2017.

MARANG lawmaker Abdul Hadi Awang tabled his controversial RUU355 bill today, insisting that it is not the backdoor to implementing hudud in Malaysia.

The PAS president hit out at non-Muslims, saying they had no right to reject initiatives to improve Islamic affairs for Muslims.

The bill, he said, was not to create a new law unlike what was being said by his detractors, but to amend a law concerning the limits of punishments for shariah offences.

Hadi is seeking to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 through a private member’s bill, to enhance punishments for shariah offences.

He said since state shariah laws were enforced (in Kelantan and Terengganu), no non-Muslim has been caught or charged under them. As such, they should not be worried, he added.

Hadi said there were protections in place for non-Muslims, adding that even the Quran said non-Muslims could choose to be a judge in their own courts.

Taking a swipe at those opposing the bill, Hadi said it is as if they have lost their minds, inciting fear among the people.

Earlier, before Hadi was given leave to table his bill, a shouting match erupted when several DAP lawmakers questioned Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia on why he had “fast-tracked” Hadi’s bill, when earlier motions were pushed back.

Pandikar got into arguments with Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Gelang Patah) and Lee Boon Chye (PKR-Gopeng), stressing he was not biased towards anyone.

The debate on the bill resumes at 2.30pm and voting is expected at 5pm.

The Malaysian Insight will be carrying the proceedings live:

4pm: Pandikar announces that the debate is now adjourned sine die, sending opposition MPs, who hardly had opportunity to say much this afternoon, into shock.

Someone shouted: “Tan Sri, you are being so unfair. You never said this earlier. You are catching us in a surprise”.

Shouts of “stupid”, “takut” (coward), “kuasa disalahgunakan” (abuse of power) follow Pandikar as he leaves.

3.55pm: Takiyuddin ends his speech, voicing his support for the bill again.

Pandikar says he has been speaker for nine years and he feels happy today because he has full power to conduct the session without restriction.

He says he understands RUU355 clearly after listening to Hadi and Takiyuddin.

3.50pm: Takiyuddin says it is okay if other states, like Penang and Sarawak, decide not to adopt the amendments.

He also responds to questions from other MPs on whether Malaysia had the expertise to carry out higher penalties, and if the bill runs contrary to Article 8 of the constitution, which states all are equal in the eyes of the law.

He says beliefs cannot be compared, as Muslims must follow Islamic law and could not reject them, like fasting during Ramadan. He says it is “positive discrimination” towards Muslims.

3.40pm: Khoo Soo Seang (Tebrau-BN) tells Takiyuddin that previously, non-Muslim MPs did not object to RUU355 and its earlier amendments because there was no talk of implementing hudud.

He says there are questions about it, with many assuming it is unconstitutional. He says non-Muslims are not against the act, but the jail term proposed is too high.

3.20pm: Ahmad Nazlan Idris (Jerantut-BN) says he failed to see how RUU355 is a threat to anyone or the reason some parties fear the bill, opposing it. He says he does not see why non-Muslims should fear a bill that does not threaten their religions.

Dr Moor Azmi Ghazali (Bagan Serai-BN) says there used to be a lot of harmony among the people. He says that non-Muslims also appreciate Islamic principles like Islamic banking.

He says circumcisions are also becoming popular among non-Muslims. As a doctor, he has performed the surgery on non-Muslims, who do it for hygiene reasons.

3.30pm: After several pro-RUU355 spoke in support of the bill, Khalid Samad (Sepang-Amanah) asks how long will Takiyuddin’s speech go on. He says it seems to be PAS’s day in the house.

Pandikar tells Takiyuddin to continue.

3.15pm: Nasiruddin says there should not be objections against the bill. He says the proposed amendments originated from the Quran, such as the 100 lashes.

“We Muslims want to implement them, but suddenly others want to stop us.

“Islam is the religion of the federation, while the others are free to profess their own beliefs.”

Hasan Arifin (Rompin-BN) says he fears objections against RUU355 may be exploited by extremists to harm the stability of the country.

He says even the British had the wisdom to allow shariah laws in the country.

“I am fear extremists will take advantage of the situation if this bill is prevented,” he says.

3.10pm: Takiyuddin now takes the house back to 1984, when RUU355 was amended. He says the non-Muslim parliamentarians, who included Lim and the late DAP chairman Karpal Singh, did not stop the amendment.

Sabah MP Bung Mokhtar (Kinabatangan-BN) says perhaps there is misunderstanding about the bill. To this, Takiyuddin says there are some who do not understand, but they are also those who purposely fail to understand.

3pm: Takiyuddin says many non-Muslim MPs were also in the Dewan Rakyat in 1965 when the original RUU355 was passed without debate. He praises the MPs, who included the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Dr Lim Chong Eu of Penang. 

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (Amanah-Sepang) interjects, saying that at the time, the bill was tabled by the government.

“The government could table it then. Why this time, PAS has to do it? Was the bill consented by the rulers at the time?” Hanipa asks.

Takiyuddin says the government did not take it to the rulers. He also defends PAS’s tabling of the present bill.

He says it is clear that any MP can table a private member’s bill, as provided in the Dewan Rakyat’s standing orders.

2.55pm: Nasruddin Hassan (PAS-Temerloh) says there is no reason to be suspicious of the bill.

2.45pm: Takiyuddin cites records on Islamic law in the Malay states. One example was how two British judges recognised Islamic law as “law of the land” in Selangor, even before the independence of Malaya.

Like Hadi earlier, Takiyuddin also reaffirms that Islamic law does not apply to non-Muslims. 

He says the shariah courts’ jurisdiction is determined by the Federal Constitution and the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 was created by the Dewan Rakyat to decide on criminal offences, not civil offences.

There’s no reason to question or be afraid of RUU355, fearing it as if it is a ghost, he says.

2.30pm: Takiyuddin resumes his debate on RUU355 after MPs returned from lunch. He is supporting the bill. He asks his colleagues in the Dewan Rakyat to discuss the matter in a mature and rational manner, as many are watching.

He says he humbly asks all in society, who before this had made early judgment on the amendment, to wait for explanations on the bill.

He cites a recent joint press statement by civil society, involving some 60 groups, urging MPs to vote against RUU355.

“I think it is great many groups are concerned over this, but it is better if all our friends wait for explanations on the issue first.

“As Muslims, we are taught by the Quran to be open-minded.”

1pm: Hadi ends his speech, seeking support in the Dewan Rakyat for his bill. Pandikar announces that the house will adjourn for lunch. The debate on the bill will resume from 2.30pm onwards.

12.52pm: Hadi maintains that non-Muslims have no right to reject initiatives to improve Islamic affairs for Muslims. He says they need not make any personal sacrifices. He says the state governments will benefit from the amendments. The heads of religion in the states – the sultans – will have the power to decide whether to increase the maximum penalties.

Shariah courts are only limited to areas mentioned in the state list. He says if a Muslim raped a non-Muslim, the crime would be punished under the penal code.

He says the concept of punishment in Islam is different. Whipping cannot break the skin. Even the whip must not be raised above one’s head. There are protections in place for non-Muslims, and even the Quran says non-Muslims could choose to be a judge in their own courts.

Taking a swipe at those opposing his bill, he says it is as if they have lost their minds, inciting fear among the people.

12.50pm: He says the bill is not the backdoor to implementing hudud in Malaysia.

12.45pm: Hadi says shariah courts have limited powers, despite Islam being the official religion of the federation. The amendments are only to increase the maximum penalties. There is freedom of religion in Malaysia. He asked why Muslims in the country could not practise their religion completely.

12.40pm: Hadi says his bill is not to create a new law unlike what is being said by his detractors, but to amend a law concerning the limits of punishments for shariah offences. The current limits set sentences to three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan. He says since state shariah laws were enforced, no non-Muslim has been caught or charged under them. Non-Muslims should not worry, Hadi says.

12.38pm: Hadi gets leave to read out his bill after the shouting dies down.

12.36pm: Undeterred, Lim gets up. Pandikar tells him repeatedly to sit down or he will ask him to get out. An exasperated Pandikar says to take all the politics outside the house, this is Parliament. He gives leave to Hadi to stand up. Whoever else interrupts will be ejected from the house.

12.34pm: Pandikar puts his foot down and gives Hadi leave. But Gelang Patah MP gets up to interrupt him again. Pandikar tries to get him to sit down. Shouts break out telling Lim to sit down. Some accuse Lim as being “orang tua gila” (crazy old man). Pandemonium breaks out.

12.32pm: MPs get restless with the debate between the speaker, Kota Baru and Puchong MPs on whether the motion can be read out. Boos and jeers break out. Pandikar tells everyone to settle down. Shouts break out between both sides of the house.

12.27pm: Gobind gets up and argues that although Parliament has power to determine its own proceedings regardless of a suit or case against it, the same was not done in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal. Gobind says the speaker stopped all debate on 1MDB due to an ongoing court case.

12.23pm: Pandikar reads out from the parliamentary rule book of the Indian parliament on the question of injunctions against Parliament to prevent motions from being tabled. The rule book says the court cannot interfere with parliamentary proceedings.

12.20pm: Kota Baru MP Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS) raises a point of order in response to Gobind. Takiyuddin argues that a similar suit to the one filed yesterday had been filed in June last year. The High Court ruled that Parliament cannot stop a motion that has been filed in the Dewan Rakyat. This is greeted by applause by some MPs.

12.18pm: As Pandikar rules that Hadi has the floor, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo raises a point of order. Gobind says that a suit has been brought against the speaker to stop the tabling of Hadi’s bill.

12.17pm: Pandikar gets into an argument with Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye (PKR) on who should be given priority to table motions, according to Dewan Rakyat rules. Pandikar says Hadi’s bill is not a first reading. Pandikar stresses he is not biased towards anyone.

12.02pm: Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang (DAP) interrupts and says he should been given leave to table his motion as he submitted it first.

12.01pm: Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia arrives shortly before noon, taking over from the deputy speaker as question time continues. More MPs entering the house.

Pandikar gives leave to Hadi to table his private member’s bill for debate. The bill intends to increase penalties for shariah offences by amending the Shariah Court Act 1965. – April 6, 2017.

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