Former Umno MP can challenge Dewan Rakyat Speaker on RUU355, court rules

Asila Jalil

THE Kuala Lumpur High Court today allowed former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail to challenge Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia over PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s Bill to amend a federal shariah law to enable harsher punishments.

Tawfik’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan said the court held Parliament was answerable to the court in respect to areas that involve the law and the Federal Constitution.

“Today the court has said Parliament would be answerable to the court. The speaker would be answerable if he didn’t follow the provisions of the constitution,” Rosli told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur court.

The decision was made in chambers by High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Kamaludin Md Said.

Hadi’s private member’s bill, or better known as RUU355, seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to enhance punishments under shariah laws.

Hadi was allowed by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to table the motion for his bill in April last year but the session was adjourned without debate.

Tawfik filed an originating summons last year to declare the bill unconstitutional and that it flouted Parliament’s procedures, naming Pandikar as the Speaker and secretary Roosme Hamzah as defendants. 

Pandikar then applied to strike out Tawfik’s suit, to which the latter applied for a dismissal.

Rosli said a bill cannot be presented if it did not comply with constitutional requirements such as obtaining consent from the Conference of Rulers for laws or matters pertaining to Islam.

“Article 38 (of the Federal Constitution) said matters of this nature must be consulted with the Conference of Rulers.

“How can Parliament, the highest law-making body of the country, commit an illegal act?

“The plaintiff is saying the constitution must be respected and its processes followed. Tawfik is trying to ensure Parliament and all branches of government comply with the law, and we are trying to protect the Rulers’ rights,

He added Pandikar had relied on laws on parliamentary privilege and chose not to respond to the affidavits the plaintiff had filed.

“He chose not to answer. So we say the Speaker of Parliament who is governed by the Constitution, must answer that question. 

“If he does not want to answer, he must answer to the court. As I said this is the beginning, not the end,” said Rosli. – February 22, 2018.

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