KUALA LUMPUR: Lawmakers have been put in a "tight spot" with the tabling of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's Private Member's Bill in Parliament, said Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (pic).
He compared the situation to being "caught between the devil and the deep blue sea".
"This is because they have taken their parliamentary oath of office to uphold the supremacy of the Federal Constitution," said the veteran Gua Musang MP at a forum organised by non-governmental organisation Angkatan Amanah Merdeka on Sunday.
Over 100 people, including supporters and critics, of the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) turned up for the event.
Tengku Razaleigh, who is also Angkatan Amanah Merdeka president, said the proposed amendments to RUU355 had brought "nervousness" due to the provisions for maximum punishment of certain crimes, which are higher than those meted under secular courts.
"The possibility of differing punishments being meted out by two differing legal systems therefore cannot be denied," he said in his opening speech at the forum titled "How much do you know about hudud" held at the Universiti Malaya Alumni Clubhouse.
The forum also featured Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, constitutional expert Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi and Universiti Sains Malaysia political scientist Prof Dr Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.
Tengku Razaleigh also touched on the question of whether the Conference of Rulers had been briefed about the constitutionality of the ammendments.
"The Rulers and Sultans have absolute rights to matters pertaining to Islam and this raises the question of whether their Royal Highnesses were informed of the amendments and their assent obtained for its tabling in the Dewan Rakyat," he said.
Also present were Raub MP Datuk Hasan Ariffin, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali, G25 founder Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, lawyer and activist Siti Kasim, as well as Hulu Kelang assemblymen and Amanah deputy chief Saari Sungib.
Abdul Hadi's Private Member's Bill is expected to be re-tabled when Parliament reconvenes in March.
The Bill was read out a second time last November to include several tweaks.
The "tweaked" amendment to the Bill proposes to increase the degree of penalties in Section 2 of the current Act.
Abdul Hadi's earlier proposal was to allow the Syariah courts to impose stiffer penalties.
Currently, the penalties based on the last amendment in 1984 allows for a jail term of not more than three years or fine of not less than RM5,000 or not more than six lashes.
Abdul Hadi's latest proposal is to replace the penalties with "not more than 30 years prison or fine of not more than RM100,000 or 100 lashes as administered in line with Syariah laws".
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