(File pix) Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, said the reason the government could not take over the Private Member's Bill was due to lack of details and an explanation on why such an amendment is needed in the first place. Bernama Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: If Pas had provided more details on its Private Member's Bill to empower the Shariah Courts (also known as RUU355), Barisan Nasional (BN) would have been more supportive of it.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, said the reason the government could not take over the bill was due to lack of details and an explanation on why such an amendment is needed in the first place.

"I am a Muslim, but I must remember that there are a lot of non-Muslims that might also not understand it. Even people like us have not been given enough explanation. How can we support it?

"Being part of BN, we don't want to just simply agree or disagree without knowing the details of it. (And) certain parts of the bill, like the increase in caning proposed (by Pas President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang), has to be amended first.

"I'm not saying (the bill as presented is) all good… but maybe they will have to amend certain parts of it. The caning, it's a bit too much," she told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby here today.

Pas is currently seeking to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to empower the Shariah Courts.

The bill seeks to amend the Act, also known as Act 355 or RUU355, to empower Islamic courts to enforce punishment, except for the death penalty, provided in Shariah law for Islamic offences listed under state jurisdiction in the Federal Constitution.

Nancy, who is also the Batang Sadong Member of Parliament, pointed out that if BN were to go on and support the bill, it might cost them the people's support.

"By supporting this bill in Parliament, (the public) may think that we are disappointing them. They have given us this chance to play the part we have to play in Parliament.

"If there is anything of that nature in the future, if there is any amendment, we hope it will be explained nationwide, so that we can say why we support it. But as of now, we can't do that," she added.

The bill, which was first moved by Hadi, seeks to increase the Shariah Courts’ punishment caps to a 30 year jail term, a fine of up to RM100,000, and up to 100 strokes of the cane.

Currently, the Shariah criminal punishment is capped at a three year prison term, a RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that the government would take over the bill and convert it into a government bill.

However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last night announced that BN will not be tabling the bill.

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