Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sharir: Umno MPs to vote according to conscience on hudud law

Muslim lawmakers from UMNO will vote according to their conscience if PAS puts forward the private member’s bill to pave way for the implementation of hudud in Kelantan.

Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad said each lawmaker has to decide for themselves as this was a matter of “faith and religion”.

“I believe since it is a matter of religion, it would have to be a matter of a vote of conscience for each individual,” the Johor Baru MP told reporters at Parliament lobby, Wednesday.

Despite staunch objections from its political partner DAP, PAS had today tabled the amendments to the Syariah Criminal Code II 1993, a move many said would spell the end of Pakatan Rakyat.

The proposed amendments to seven key criminal offences seek more rotan lashes under the hudud, apostasy, illegal sexual intercourse, alcohol consumption, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, theft and robbery, causing hurt and murder.

Kelantan Mentri Besar Ahmad Yaakob said the amendments to the law that will supersede the present Penal Code, will be inserted in thee private member's bills to be tabled in Parliament by this year that needed a simple majority to enable Hudud to be practised in Kelantan.

When asked whether Umno would lend its support to PAS in order to form a simple majority, Shahrir it will all fall back to the matter of conscience.

“There is no directive from Umno, whether or not to (support). I believe it’s a matter of conscience of vote.

“So it is up to each MP whether he wants to support or not,” he said, adding that the lawmakers do not necessarily have to toe the party’s line in making decisions.

“In Barisan Nasional, we are not robotic. We don’t always say this is the party line that we must follow. We must take into consideration what the people’s interests are,” said Shahrir.

He said the Umno Kelantan lawmakers, who supported the Kelantan hudud bill, had voted based on their conscience.

“I believe so because I think it is a matter of faith and they would want to support this,” he said.

Asked on MCA’s stand that it would review ties Umno should it lend support to PAS’ hudud, Shahrir said the party needs to recognise that this was a “matter of faith”.

“I’m sure if given assurance that it is just specifically meant for Muslims, then it should not affect them,” he said.

Asked on the possibility of forging a relationship with PAS amidst Umno’s support on the bill, Shahrir said one should not speculate the matter.

Should the bill tabled in Parliament, the decision will rest on 222 members of Parliament, of whom 133 are from Barisan Nasional and a combined 89 are from DAP, PKR and PAS.

All Kelantan PAS needs is a simple majority of 112 votes to carry the bill. There are a total of 149 Muslim lawmakers in Parliament.

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