PUTRAJAYA: Non-Muslims must understand that the amendment of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) is not about introducing hudud, but merely aims to increase the powers of the Syariah court.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak noted that it is also not unusual for Barisan Nasional and Pas to be on the same page, saying that there were times both parties shared the same views and that included matters such as Act 355.
“It (Act 355) has nothing to do with the non-Muslims at all,” he said during TV3's Soal Jawab programme tonight.
Najib's remark comes after various political parties and social movements had called for lawmakers to reject the Pas' private member's bill, which they claim is aimed at paving the way for the implementation of Islamic corporal punishment.
Pushed by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, the bill seeks to amend the Act to empower Islamic courts to enforce punishment, except for the death penalty, provided in Syariah laws for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution.
Syariah court punishments are currently limited to jail terms not exceeding three years, whipping of not more than six strokes, or fines of not more than RM5,000.
Najib stressed that the matter is not about hudud.
“What we are doing is a syiar (requirement) in Islam; it is a Muslim affair. The non-Muslims must understand that this is not about hudud but about empowering the Syariah Courts,” he said.
As for opposition within Barisan Nasional, Najib said Umno plans to discuss with other component parties and explain further the purpose of the amended bill.
"As a Barisan Nasional government, we will negotiate with other component parties so that they understand the actual purpose behind the amendment of the bill,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib said the Pas of today and the Pas of before appear to be different.
“The Pas of today appear to be more open and committed to fight for matters involving the interest of the ummah (Muslim community).”
Najib said the relationship between both parties are now more comfortable now, despite both parties having their own sub-groups within.
“The same applies to Umno when it comes to matters related to the ummah and the future of the country. There are certain things that we share similar opinions, but we have yet to reach the level of 1974 in forming a coalition government.
“There are occasions when we have differing views, sometimes we have a different stance and there are also times we share the same stance.” he said.