Named as a “group of prominent Muslims” by DAP, G25 is a group of people who are so clueless about the teaching of Islam that their arguments and ideas regarding Islam are so mind-blowing and out of context, making them good friends of DAP’s Penang Institute. Sharing DAP’s stance regarding the amendment of Act 355, G25’s arguments on this matter are as baseless and illogical as those given by DAP. Below are my answers (in blue) to G25’s article in red:
To all honourable Members of Parliament,
We, G25, anxiously appeal for a promise from each Honourable Member of Parliament to not support/cancel the debate on PAS’ private motion to amend Act 355, or Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which will now be debated in Parliament.
We hope the honourable MPs would ponder upon and note that any amendment to Islamic laws should be done within the framework of the Federal Constitution.
There is no law saying that Act 355 or any other Acts related to the Islamic Laws cannot be amended. The Hadi Private Bill to amend the Act 355 is being done within the framework of the Federal Constitution and I’m sure that the members of G25 are aware that this is not the first time the Act 355 is amended.
Specifically, Article 4 provides for the superiority of the federal law and civil courts over state Islamic enactments and shariah courts. This ensures the existence of only one system of justice governing all Malaysians.
A misleading fabricated statement. Syariah Courts is part of Malaysian legal systems as confers by Article 121(1A). There is no such thing as,“This ensures the existence of only one system of justice governing all Malaysians”.
1) Article 4 states that the Federal Constitution is the Supreme law and Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution says:
The courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.
2) In the judgement of the case, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and Anor v Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, the Federal court ruled in a unanimous decision that the section 16 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) is valid and not ultra vires the Federal Constitution, Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif said:
Federal Constitution allows the Legislature of a State to legislate and enact offences against the precepts of Islam. Taking the Federal Constitution as a whole, it is clear that it was the intention of the framers of our Constitution to allow Muslims in this country to be also governed by Islamic personal law.
Limitations on the powers of the shariah courts:
Item 1 in the Ninth Schedule of the State List of the Federal Constitution states that the shariah courts “shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law”. The purpose of this provision is for Parliament to have oversight and control over offences, including the nature of punishments created by state enactments, so that the state legislatures do not have a free hand to create offences or to prescribe sentences.
1) Act 355 is a Federal Law and not a State Law. The Act confers jurisdiction upon Courts constituted under any State law for the purpose of dealing with offences under Islamic law.
2) “Item 1 in the Ninth Schedule of the State List of the Federal Constitution” does not exist. What we have is, Item 1 of the State List in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution and it proves that the Syariah Court system is legal and constitutional.
Increasing status of the syariah courts complicates enforcement:
The desire to raise the status of the shariah courts to be on a par with the civil courts is worrying and very likely will shock our multiracial community as it will raise questions on the direction of the country’s legal system.
Is G25 unaware of the existence of Article 121(1A)? In 1988, the then Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed tabled the Constitution (Amendment) 1988 Bill in Parliament to add Clause (1A) to the Article 121 which raised the status of the Syariah Courts. That happened 29 years ago and it had not “shock our multiracial community”. G25 must stop debasing the Syariah Courts.
A secular system of justice existing side by side with the Islamic system is not only unconstitutional but will cause considerable confusion and uncertainty in the enforcement of law and order.
Is G25 saying that Articles 74(2) and 121(1A) is unconstitutional and Item 1 of the State List in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution does not excise?
A big risk with investors:
Economists and international experts who have studied Malaysia’s remarkable economic development over a relatively short period to become one of the most advanced economies in the developing world, have always cited its system of law and administration as a key factor in attracting foreign and local investors to do business here. It is a system which foreigners are familiar with because it is similar to what they find in their own countries. Their presence is most important for the transfer of knowledge and technology so that Malaysians can benefit by developing our own skills to compete in the world market. Our country will be taking a big risk with foreign and local investors if we have a system of law which is moving away from its original character to become more religiously oriented and less tolerant of modern lifestyles and values.
Act 355 is not a new law and it will not change our current “system of law”. I wonder if:
1) To G25, is “modern lifestyles and values” means lifestyles and values which are against the teaching of Islam?
2) In what way does the amendment of Act 355 can be bad for our economy in regarding to “attracting foreign and local investors to do business here”?
3) G25 really thinks that a “religiously oriented” Muslim society is bad for the economy?
A step towards hudud:
Supporters of the PAS bill to amend Act 355 insist that there is no intention to introduce hudud. Malaysians find this hard to believe as Kelantan, which is ruled by PAS, has already passed the Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) Enactment 2015, prescribing hudud punishment for zina (illicit sex), murder, theft, robbery, sodomy, consumption of liquor and apostasy.
The amendment of Act 355 cannot enable the implementation of the current Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) Enactment 2015. The amendment is only to enable the Syariah Court to increase its punishments limits, but its jurisdiction will still be limited to the crimes listed under the Item 1 of the Second List in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, which does not include murder, robbery and theft as in hudud.
But State law is currently prevented from being enforced because of Act 355.
Another false fact. Act 355 confers the jurisdiction upon States’ Syariah Courts therefore it does not prevent the enforcement of State laws.
Prioritising good governance in public institutions
A well-governed country with laws and governing institutions that provide social justice for the poor and the needy should be a priority for the country’s social and economic progression. This would be more Islamic than the implementation of hudud. We should be proud that our shariah index is higher than other Muslim countries because our children are better educated; health and medical facilities are available in all corners of the country; unemployment and poverty rates are low; and our youth can look forward to a brighter future. Higher priority should be given towards improving the standards of governance and to strengthen the institutions of law and order so as to promote integrity and clean administration in the country. These governing qualities are far more important to the country than policing the moral behaviour of Muslims and punishing them like criminals. The personal sins of Muslims do not hurt others in the society or the economy but the corruption and financial mismanagement among politicians and civil servants and the perception that the institutions of justice favour those in power — these are the social diseases that can cause economies to collapse and the people to rise up against their rulers. The government and MPs should be careful not to support the PAS bill and instead spend their energy in dealing with the unresolved problems surrounding 1MDB so that the country can turn its attention to deal with the bigger issues facing the economy, in particular the weak ringgit and the rising cost of living.
We do not need the PAS bill to divide the nation at a time when all races should stand together. The time now is for the real 1Malaysia.
Contrary to what was claimed by G25, the amendment of Act 355 will not only lead to good governance but it will help to build a better society and reduce social problems among the Muslims. Talking about economy, the increase of punishments for drinking and gambling can hinder Muslims from wasting their money on those negative activities, hence will improve the economy of their families. And faithful Muslims will not be involved in “corruption and financial mismanagement”, hence will prevent “the social diseases that can cause economies to collapse and the people to rise up against their rulers”.