PETALING JAYA: Members of parliament have been urged to step up their rhetoric against PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill.
Tawfik Ismail, a former MP who often speaks for moderate governance, told FMT it appeared that those opposed to the bill were taking it easy in the belief that it would not be debated during the current session of parliament although it is listed in the order paper.
This is the seventh time that the bill has appeared in the order paper.
Tawfik warned that the government could decide to play politics and push the bill to the top of the order list.
The bill, known as RUU355, seeks to amend the 1965 Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to allow for harsher punishments.
Tawfik said MPs should inform their constituents of the repercussions of passing the bill into law.
“If the people are not informed by their MPs of the implications, then they will go along with Hadi and say this is Islamic,” he said.
“RUU355 is not being carried down to the ground because people just dismiss it as a private member’s bill that won’t come up.”
Repeating an assertion he has often made, he said the law that Hadi was proposing would be unconstitutional. He added: “An unconstitutional law remains unconstitutional no matter how it is passed, but who is going to challenge it later on?”
He said there was a danger that the bill would be passed the same way the National Security Council (NSC) Act was approved.
The NSC Act, which empowers the prime minister to declare an area as a security zone, became law in June last year although it did not get royal assent. The Federal Constitution allows this if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not give his assent after 30 days.
Tawfik pointed out that Parliament was supposed to be secular and said it was absurd to introduce an Islamic bill for non-Muslim MPs to debate.
“You have non-Muslims sitting in Parliament. Why are you bringing in an Islamic bill for non-Muslims to pass or even to debate? It’s not in the spirit of parliament.
“I’m sure there will be an outcry if a Christian bill was suddenly put up in parliament for debate.”
He said his main worry was a creeping usurpation of the constitution and the imposition of theocracy in the country.
“We might all wake up one day and find the sultan’s role has been appropriated by the state mufti or whoever. This is how radical movements are formed.”