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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hadi's Hudud bill speeded up under orders from PM and DPM

PETALING JAYA - Parliamentary affairs minister Azalina Othman has explained how the private member’s bill proposed by Abdul Hadi Awang was given precedence in the Dewan Rakyat last week.

In the face of opposition demands to know if she had obtained Cabinet approval for her actions, Azalina made a distinction between parliamentary procedure and government affairs.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Sungai Besar, Selangor, she said that she had obtained approval from the Leader of the House, and the Chief Whip.

The Leader of the House, or majority leader, is Najib Razak, the prime minister, while the Chief Whip on the government side is Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also deputy prime minister.

Opposition politicians have criticised her action for Hadi’s bill to be moved up to the top of the Dewan Rakyat’s agenda for May 26. The bill seeks parliamentary approval of a Kelantan state enactment empowering its syariah courts to impose Islamic criminal penalties.

The bill had been listed at No. 15 on the Order Paper for the day and was moved up to No. 1, taking precedence over government business.

Azalina denied that this amounted to “fast-tracking” the bill, as described by opposition politicians.

She said she had been informed by the Speaker that the minister in charge of religious affairs, Jamil Khir Baharom, had written to state that the government had no objection to the bill being debated, according to Malaysiakini.

“In my job as minister in charge of parliament, I report to the leader of the majority, who is the prime minister, and I report to the chief whip, who is the deputy PM. So the instructions I got to push it (motion to table Hadi’s bill) from No.15 to No.1 would definitely be (from) the leader of the majority and chief whip because that is the procedural requirement for Parliament,” she was quoted as saying at a press conference in Sungai Besar.

“The Speaker had informed us that there was a request being made, whereby Jamir Khir informed the Speaker that there was no objection, so of course automatically my role came in. There was no such thing of fast tracking,” she said.

“My role does not relate to the content of the motion. I oversee regulations, so I only take care of the procedure,” she said.

Azalina explained that she was the one who moved for the bill to be given priority under Standing Order 14 which requires a member of the cabinet or minister “to stand up and read out the consent to the Speaker. I am in charge of the technicality, not the content, of the motion.”

The decision to allow the debate on the bill was from Jamir Khir. “So this has nothing to do with the minister in charge of parliament,” she said.

Hadi’s bill, formally called the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) 2016 Bill, seeks to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, a federal law.

Although the bill was moved up the agenda, Abdul Hadi requested that the debate be postponed to October.

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