All eyes fell on Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced the government will not table the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 and passed the ball to the speaker.
PAS, which spearheaded the proposed amendments to the legislation, also known as Act 355, indicated it would lobby Pandikar to allow for a debate – but the son of a former deputy prime minister wants to ensure that this will never take place.
Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, son of former deputy prime minister Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, today filed a suit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, seeking a declaration that the proposed amendments were unconstitutional.
The motion on the proposed amendments by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is currently on the Parliament’s Order Paper.
Tawfik is seeking to prohibit the Dewan Rakyat from allowing Hadi’s motion on Act 355, or any motion with similar characterisrics, to be tabled and debated in Parliament.
He named Pandikar and Dewan Rakyat secretary Roosme Hamzah as defendants.
Tawfil claimed Hadi’s motion did not conform with the requirement of the Standing Order of the Dewan Rakyat.
He also argued that the proposed amendments violated Article 8 of the federal constitution which guaranteed equality for all Malaysians.
He added that the matter that would affected national policy and therefore the Conference of Rulers should first be consulted.
“Hadi’s motion on Act 355 was not first referred to and consulted with the Conference of Ruler under Article 38 of the Federal Constitution,” he said in the filing sighted by Malaysiakini.
The suit was filed by lawyer Rosli Dahlan on behalf of Tawfik this afternoon.
When contacted, Rosli said the summon will be served on Pandikar and Roosme next week.
In May last year, Parliament was caught by surprise when the government allowed PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion to table a Private Member’s Bill to amend Act 355.
However, Hadi chose to postpone the motion, citing the need to give time to other MPs to study the proposed amendment.
The original amendment sought to grant the syariah courts more powers to mete out punishments without limits, with the exception of the death sentence.
After negotiations between PAS and the Umno-led government, Hadi agreed to amend the proposal.
It would instead increase the punishment limit that the syariah courts can mete out from three years’ imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the rotan to 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the rotan.
Hadi subsequently tabled the amended motion in Parliament in November but he again postponed the debate, citing the need to give time to MPs to examine the changes made.
Najib at the Umno general assembly last November announced the government would take over Hadi’s bill.
On March 18 Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed this for the present parliamentary sitting, before the decision was retracted at the eleventh hour. – Malaysiakini