PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill is not about allowing the implementation of Islamic penal code (hudud), said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
According to him, the bill is only to enhance the punishment that Syariah Courts can mete out, for example, increasing its current limit of six strokes of the rotan to "a few times".
"I would like to clarify that the amendment (bill) is not hudud law, it is just to enhance the punishment from six times (of the rotan) to a few times, depending on the offences.
"It also involves the Syariah Courts and only involves Muslims. It has nothing to do with non-Muslims," he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur this evening.
Najib also defended the use of the rotan for Syariah Court punishments, stating that the way it is carried out in Islam is controlled and does not cause harm.
The bill is officially named the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016.
It is referred to as the "Hudud Bill" as it would ultimately pave the way for the partial implementation of the Islamic penal code, specifically in PAS-ruled Kelantan which had already passed an enactment to that effect.
However, the Kelantan state's enactment cannot be implemented as long as restrictions exists that limit Syariah Court sentencing.
Hadi’s bill seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 which limits the Syariah Courts’ punishment to a maximum fine of RM5,000, three years' jail or six strokes of the rotan.
However, Najib insisted that the notion the bill is synonymous with hudud law was just a misunderstanding.
“I have told our friends in BN there was a big misunderstanding.
"When Hadi brought the Private Member's Bill, they (BN components) saw it as hudud law.
“Hadi is too closely linked to hudud. So when he brought this up, everyone automatically assumed it was the Hudud Bill,” he said.
In an unusual move in Parliament yesterday, the government fast-tracked Hadi’s bill despite it being listed last on the order paper.
This prompted an immediate backlash from various BN component parties such as MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP, who strongly criticised the move.