PRS, SUPP stand firm on Act 355


Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) will not waver in the objection to the Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) to extend the jurisdiction on the Syariah Court although the federal government has taken it over from PAS.
The parties reiterated their stand following a statement by Umno supreme council member Datuk Ahmad Maslan that all MPs of Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties should support the Bill to amend the Act.

SUPP president Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and PRS secretary general Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum made separate statements on their parties’ stand yesterday.
They both pointed that Ahmad was not a Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council member and had no authority to make the statement on behalf of the ruling coalition.
Sim and Salang added that the matter should be discussed in a BN supreme council meeting and the component parties must unanimously agree to compel all their MPs to support the Bill.
Ahmad who is also the Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister had said during the Umno Overseas Club annual general meeting last Sunday that BN component parties were compelled to support the amendments to the Bill after it was taken over by the Federal Government.
“Umno cannot just force the issue down our throat.  This is not in accordance to BN constitution,” Salang told The Borneo Post yesterday.
Sim stressed that BN’s decision on Act 355 should be made in the BN spirit and its policy making framework stipulated under BN Constitution.
BN Constitution Clause 13 states that “decisions at meeting of the supreme council shall be by unanimity except decisions taken under Articles 15 and 22 which shall be by majority vote in which case each member party shall have one vote.” (Article 15 is about discipline and Article 22 is on interpretation of rules).
“BN will convene its next supreme council meeting in January 2017,” he said in a statement.
The SUPP president chided Ahmad for making the statement and reminded him  to be cautious when making public statements.
Sim who is also the Local Government Minister also stressed that SUPP would object any amendments which violate the federal constitution.
“The amendments to Act 355 must not violate federal constitution and the amendments must be done in accordance to the spirit of BN.  And the amendments should also take into consideration the multiracial and multi-religious nature of our nation.
“SUPP will not waver in its stance and will continue to protect and uphold the federal constitution, “ said Dr Sim.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had proposed the amendments to Act 355 which seeks to enhance the punishment mete out by the Syariah Court.
The bill proposes to increase jail term from the present maximum of three years to 30 years; fine of RM5,000 to RM100,000 and the present maximum six lashes of cane to 100 lashes.
The Kelantan State Legislative Assembly had passed an amendment to Kelantan’s Syariah Criminal Code 1993 last year but it could not enforce it due to Act 355.
Hadi’s Bill met with strong opposition from non-Muslims who feared that once passed, it would pave the way for the implementation of Hudud law in Kelantan and Terengganu.

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