PAS meets church reps over Hadi’s Bill

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Several PAS leaders held a meeting with representatives of the Catholic church and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) here to discuss the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355).

PAS interfaith coordinator Abdul Rahman Kassim said those present were PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang Datuk Rev Sebastian Francis and social activist Anil Netto.

He added that the meeting was a courtesy call by Tuan Ibrahim to show respect to the other religions and to foster better ties.

“We discussed a bit on PAS’ proposed amendments to Act 355 and explained the reasons we wish to push it forward.

“The church expressed concern over the amendment, we answered their questions and assured them that there was no need for non-Muslims to be worried,” Abdul Rahman said after the one-hour meeting at the St Anne’s Church here on Sunday.

He said no decision was made at the meeting as it was only a casual meet-up session, which he described as “successful”.

He also said that as part of inter-faith relationship building, the party would organise an inter-faith bowling tournament on Feb 12 at the Giant Mall in Kulim, Kedah.

PAS is planning to hold a rally at Dataran Merdeka on Feb 18 to support PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill, which he tabled in Parliament in May last year.

However, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has issued a letter to the party to prohibit the rally.

The party is appealing against the decision.

The Bill seeks to further empower the Syariah Courts by giving them the jurisdiction to mete out harsher punishments for syariah offences.

Barisan Nasional coalition parties including MCA, MIC, Gerakan and component parties from Sabah and Sarawak, as well as component parties from the Opposition, have strongly opposed the tabling of Abdul Hadi’s Bill, saying that it contravened the Federal Constitution as the country could not have dual or parallel criminal justice systems.

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