KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's parliament resumed its final sitting for the year on Monday (Oct 17) with all eyes on the hudud Bill set to be tabled by Islamist party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) aimed at expanding the powers of the Syariah Court, The Star reported.
The Bill set to be tabled this week by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to increase the powers of the Syariah Courts to impose stiffer penalties for offences, except for the death penalty.
The Bill has been closely watched by critics and has already run into opposition from several quarters, particularly among non-Muslims who worry it would pave the way for the implementation of hudud laws. Hudud laws are Islamic criminal laws that mandate harsh punishments, such as whipping for adultery.
Those concerns have remained even though Mr Hadi has said the proposed amendments are not aimed at implementing hudud law.
The Bill specifies that the increased penalties will only apply to Muslims, with stiffer penalties to be imposed by the Syariah courts.
Malaysia's opposition Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) said on Monday it will table an alternative motion to the Bill, according to The Star.
Its communications director Khalid Samad told reporters in Parliament on Monday that the motion tabled by Amanah would, in principle, be similar to Mr Hadi's but take a "more holistic" approach.
"The motion will also seek to improve the Syariah courts. However, it will not only focus on punishment. Our Kota Raja MP, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, submitted the motion to the Parliament speaker last week," he said, adding that it would be a lot clearer than Mr Hadi's Bill.
He said the motion would appear on the Order Paper after 14 days. "Everyone will find our motion easy to understand and accept. It is clear that our motion is within the framework of the Constitution," he said.
"It is not just about empowering the Syariah courts by punishment but a more holistic approach," he said.
Several Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leaders had also objected to the Bill and raised the matter during the ruling coalition's supreme council meeting last month.
However on Monday, the Malaysian Chinese Association's (MCA) party deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said BN had reached a consensus on the issue.
Mr Wee said the MCA had already spoken to Umno Secretary General Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor on the issue.
"He (Tengku Adnan) has already said that Barisan has a consensus on Hudud," he said, adding that the consensus would be favourable to MCA, although he did not provide details on the consensus.