IT was a dramatic end to the second meeting of the fourth session of the 13th Parliament.
Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s successful tabling of his Private Member’s Bill to give more powers to the Syariah Courts in Kelantan to impose stiffer penalties (except death) sent shockwaves within the Dewan Rakyat and beyond.
It was the PAS president’s third attempt at tabling the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill since the middle of last year.
On Thursday, most lawmakers were caught by surprise when it was fast-tracked for debate.
Just as previously, the Bill was listed as the last item on the Order Paper on the last day of the Dewan meeting.
Normally, there will not be enough time for Hadi to table his Bill as government matters take priority.
In fact, a confident DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) had earlier in the day told reporters at the Parliament lobby that Hadi’s Bill would “not see the light of day” and get torpedoed due to insufficient time.
However, after lunch, in an unprecedented move, a motion was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to allow Hadi to table his controversial Bill.
Several Pakatan Harapan lawmakers objected to this but the motion was passed by a majority voice vote.
Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who kept order in the House, allowed Hadi to table it.
Just as shocking as the tabling of the Bill, Hadi went on to request that Pandikar postpone debate on it till the next meeting in October.
At the Parliament lobby, Umno lawmakers seemed nonchalant about the Bill, saying it was not about hudud but upgrading the powers of the Syariah Courts in Kelantan.
However, a number of Barisan Nasional lawmakers, including MCA’s Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Wee Jeck Seng, expressed surprise at the Bill being tabled.
Wee said MCA had strongly objected to the Bill and was disappointed that it was allowed for debate.
Former PAS lawmaker Khalid Samad (Amanah-Shah Alam) claimed the move was a political ploy by Barisan to gain support for the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.
PAS Youth chief Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz (PAS-Pasir Puteh) viewed the successful tabling of Hadi’s Bill as a sign of cooperation between the Islamist party and Umno for the “betterment of the Muslim community”.
The Bill is set to dominate discussion at PAS’ 62nd muktamar (gathering) which begins in Kota Baru on Tuesday.
This meeting saw the Dewan pass amendments to the Child Act (Amendment) 2015 Bill which allows the setting up of a Child Registry to better protect children against abusers and sexual predators.
Employers in businesses involving children will be allowed to write in to the Welfare Department’s director-general to vet names of proposed employees – such as van and schoolbus drivers, school security guards, canteen operators, janitors and gardeners – against the registry.
Also passed were amendments to the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill to allow the Government to implement the Automated Awareness Safety System (Awas) – a combination of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) and the Demerit Points System (Kejara).
Although previous AES summonses were valid, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the ministry was seeking Cabinet approval for a discount of between RM100 and RM150 to be given.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry also informed lawmakers that a study was being carried out to prepare the nation for an aged population by 2035.
The findings of the study will be used for the setting up of public amenities when the senior citizen population reaches 15% or 5.6 million by then.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi appealed for more non-Malays to join the police force, noting that of its 133,212 personnel, 106,871 are Malays, 2,615 Chinese, 4,209 Indians and 19,517 others.