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The government does not see any need to form a new committee to study any moves to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. Pix by Aswadi Alias

KOTA BHARU: The government does not see any need to form a new committee to study any moves to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, said the ministry is instead focusing its efforts on empowering the Syariah Courts.

“For now, there is no need to form a new committee on RUU355.

“We view the Syariah Courts in a more holistic framework with respect to judges, enforcement and infrastructure; these are our priorities,” said Mujahid, who is the minister in charge of religious affairs.

Mujahid was referring to the move by Pas to table a Private Members Bill also known as RUU355, to amend Act 355 in 2016, which if approved would grant Syariah courts the power to implement tougher penalties on all crimes except those involving the death sentence.

Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had tabled the Bill last year, which seeks to amend Section 2 of RUU355, aimed at increasing the current maximum punishment from three years' jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes to 30 years' jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.

Mujahid meanwhile said the there is no guarantee that RUU355 would ensure that the Syariah Courts are further empowered.

“Before this, a committee was formed between the Federal government and the state government, specifically for RUU355.

“However, after Pakatan Harapan took over the country’s administration, the committee appears to have lost its relevancy,” he told reporters after attending a dialogue organised by Badan Bukan Kerajaan Pertubuhan Prihatin Rakyat Kelantan ( PRIKEL) on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on another subject, Mujahid gave his assurance that any discrepancies within his ministry would be investigated fully.

He said this also involves Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam Malaysia (YAPEIM), which manages a chain of ar-Rahnu branches offering Islamic gold pawn schemes nationwide.

“Everything is in our files. I give my assurance that if there is any misconduct, we will not let it rest,” he said.

He did not discount the possibility of the ministry reopening an investigation into YAPEIM.

In 2015, non-governmental organisation National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW) had claimed that there were financial irregularities and wastages within YAPEIM.