Malaysia Not A Theocracy Zaid Ibrahim Tells Umno
Former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim. -- NSTP FilepicKUALA LUMPUR: Former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has criticised Umno for the party's response following the recent nullification of 16 provisions in the Kelantan Syariah Law.
Zaid said the primary source of judicial guidance should be civil law as the country is not a theocracy.
Following the nullification, the Malay-based party had called for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to examine Constitutional amendment, in a bid to empower the syariah laws in the country.
"Before Nik Elin's case, didn't these Umno leaders know that since 1957, we are not a theocracy but a civil law country? That means not every religious law should be in the books; that civil laws are the primary source of laws in governing this country.
"The syariah system is for personal laws, but the general body of laws is not religious laws. They didn't know? Then they must be sleepwalking," he said.
He further expressed his frustration towards the national leaders' response for failing to properly explain the country's judicial system as such amendments would have been a reactionary measure that could jeopardise the country's future.
"If they want to keep Malaysia as it is, like other countries in the world, then they should defend the court's decision. But their reactions are emotional and not grounded in reality," he added.
He advised Muslims in the country to question whether the religious laws are adequately implemented while raising some points to ponder upon.
"Your leaders will tell you you need more religious laws. But tell them the syariah laws we have now are not adequately implemented.
"Why take many years to get a divorce? Why alimony and maintenance payments could not be speedily enforced? Why the backlog of cases in most syariah courts? Why is there no uniformity of laws between the states? Answer, please," he said.
Zaid's commentary was a response towards Umno deputy president, who is also the Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan's call for Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) (Datuk Dr Mohd Na'im Mokhtar) and minister in charge of law (Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said) to consider the neccesity of a constitutional amendment.
Two days ago, the Federal Court ruled that 16 provisions in Kelantan Syariah Law are unconstitutional.
Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led a nine-member panel of judges, made the landmark ruling following a 8-1 majority verdict.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had said yesterday that the Federal Court's ruling is purely about determining and distinguishing the powers of the federal government and the state government.
He had also said that the ruling had nothing to do with the federal government undermining the powers and position of syariah law in the country. - NST
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