ALOR SETAR, Sept 1 — PAS has not forgotten its promise to legislate the controversial Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill that imposes harsher penalties on Muslims convicted of religious offences, Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari told delegates at the party’s annual congress here today.
The Pasir Mas MP added that work is ongoing even now to improve the Bill — better known by its Malay abbreviation RUU 355 — so that it can be tabled in Parliament soon, without giving a timeframe.
“Various angles are being looked at, especially the aspects of the constitution, laws and Shariah law so that RUU 355 is more comprehensive, and can further strengthen the criminal jurisdiction of the Shariah Courts.
“We are making an effort to empower and dignify the position of the Shariah Courts to be on par with the civil courts,” he said in his speech at the 63rd PAS Youth Annual General Meeting at the Raja Hotel here today.
The PAS assembly, which members call muktamar, was also livestreamed on Facebook.
Ahmad Fadhli said the proposals included increasing the competency levels of Shariah judges, Shariah prosecutors and religious enforcement officers.
He added that other aspects being looked at include ways to improve the Shariah Courts’ governance and infrastructure and standardising the disparate state Shariah laws.
“In fact, the step that has been taken to empower and upgrade the Shariah Courts to suit current developments is to establish a committee to study and draft the Syariah Courts (Federal Territories) Bill 2022.
“PAS is not just making rhetoric about Islam. When entrusted with leadership, the beauty and completeness of Islam will be translated into governance and state affairs.
“This is the commitment and effort shown by PAS. Alhamdulillah, Malaysians will be more confident in PAS’s ability to govern as well as lead,” he said.
RUU 355 was tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on May 26, 2016 as a private member’s Bill.
The Bill as proposed by Hadi sought to raise the Shariah courts’ maximum sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane. The current limits are three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes.
On September 16 last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that the government is working on the draft Bill but added that it had to be presented to the states for discussion before it can be tabled in Parliament.
In Malaysia, Islamic law falls under state jurisdiction.
The controversy over the proposal to strengthen the Shariah courts first erupted when it was linked to hudud, and seen as a way to impose harsh punishments against Muslims perceived to run afoul of Islamic laws, including those in the LGBT community.