DAP Chairman Sdr Karpal Singh, who’s also the MP for Bukit Gelugor, has taken the Umno-led BN Government to task on the issue of ” directing Non-Muslims to seek remedy in the Syariah Courts, thus disallowing them to seek justice with the Civil Courts”.
Karpal is right. It’s not the question of whether the Syariah Courts were able to dispense justice. It’s the rights of the people of different faith not to be subjected to by a set of laws tailored for the Muslims. Such judgement has caused much disquiet and unhappiness among the people of differenth faiths and could be very damaging for our multiracial and multi-religious society. It’s the duty and responsibility of the Umno-led BN Government to resolve this highly sensitive issue.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Cousultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement on the same matter. I have reproduced the statement by the Chairman of MCCBCHST in this blog.
Karpal Singh: Resolve Civil-Syariah overlapping issue
An opposition Dewan Rakyat member has called on the government to take up and resolve issues involving the overlapping of civil and Syariah court jurisdiction.
Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) said it was about time the matter be looked at and a solution found.
Referring to the case of R. Subashini, he said it was perplexing that the Court of Appeal could ask the plaintiff, who is a Hindu, to seek remedy in the Syariah Court in regards to the dissolution of their civil marriage and the conversion of their child.
“Does this mean there is an extension of Syariah laws to non-Muslims?” he queried in his debate on a Motion of Thanks on the Royal Address.
Karpal, who is DAP chairman, also said the time had come for Parliament to take up the matter and resolve it.
“This matter, though sensitive, must be discussed in this hall in an objective manner,” he pleaded.
He added this was essential as other similar cases, like that involving the late S. Rayappan, have been on the increase of late.
Touching on corruption and the judiciary, Karpal said Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim had spoken out against corruption in the Judiciary.
“This shows that there is corruption in the judiciary,” he said, adding that was a need to now establish an Independent Judicial Commission.
Earlier, the wheelchair-bound Karpal took on several BN MPs who criticised him for belittling the King’s speech.
Karpal had said the speech was not the King’s own, because as a Constitutional Monarch, it was the government which drafted his speech. He had said there was no mention of anything on corruption.
Md Alwi Che Ahmad (BN-Ketereh) pointed out that paragraph 40 ofthe King’s speech did touch on integrity and corruption.
Karpal replied: “But there is nothing specifically of cases that were mentioned.”
Karpal refused to give way after being pressed by Md Alwi who then retorted: “You have been here for 20 years and you do not know the rules ah!”
Both BN MPs and opposition MPs then mixed it up.
Deputy Speaker Yusof Yaacob had a tough time controlling the situation, prompting Karpal to tell him: “Can you control these creatures (makhluk)”.
As things began to settle, Karpal touched on the corruption of the national language.
“Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa. However the national language is littered with words corrupted, particularly from the English language,” he said.
He took to task Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka for allowing the national language to be corrupted.
“Are there no other words than coming up with Integrasi, Innovasi or Reformasi. Are all these not from the English language?,” he asked.
“Even when I refer to Tuan Speaker, it is corrupted,” he said much to the amusement of all in the Dewan.
Karpal then targetted Barisan Nasional component leaders, first with People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk M.Kayveas, saying he was nothing more than a political con man.
“Barisan Nasional in the coming election should give the PPP seats in the Kinta Valley,” he said.
He also criticised Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for not being exemplary leaders.
MAJLIS PERUNDINGAN MALAYSIA AGAMA BUDDHA, KRISTIAN, HINDU, SIKH DAN TAO
MALAYSIAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF BUDDHISM, CHRISTIANITY, HINDUISM, SIKHISM AND TAOISM
Secretariat: Buddhist Maha Vihara, 123 Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur Fax 03 22739307 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS STATEMENT ON COURT OF APPEAL DECISION ON SARAVANAN v. SUBASHINI
In the wake of the majority decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Saravanan A/L Thangathony v. Subashini A/P Rajasingam [Rayuan Sivil No. W-02-955-2006] we, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, are greatly disappointed that once again, the non-converting non-Muslim wife of a convert to Islam has failed to get relief from our Civil Courts.
Hitherto, in the case of Shamala a/p Sathiaseelan she was told by the High Court that it had no jurisdiction to declare as unlawful her young children’s conversion into Islam without her knowledge or consent and was advised to seek the assistance of the Islamic authorities.
Then the widow of Everest hero, Sgt. M. Moorthy also failed to get relief from the High Court on the ground of jurisdiction. Following an uproar from civil society, the Right Honorable Prime Minister had declared that although Article 121(1A) of the Constitution would not be amended, laws will be amended to remedy the situation.
Though it has been more than a year since then, there have been no amendments to any law as yet to clarify the jurisdiction of the Courts.
It is our duty to inform the authorities that there is growing discomfort amongst the non Muslim citizens of Malaysia, who form 45% of the population, many of whom feel that the judiciary are failing in their constitutional duty to ensure the equal protection of the law for all Malaysians.
In Subashini’s case, the husband converted to Islam and converted the eldest son, aged 3, to Islam without the wife’s knowledge or consent. The husband then applied to the Syariah Court for custody of the son, again with no notice to the wife. The wife then presented a petition for divorce and ancillary relief and applied to the High Court for an injunction restraining the husband from (i) converting the children of the marriage to Islam and (ii) commencing or continuing with any proceedings in any Syariah Court with regard to the marriage or the children of the marriage.
The High Court initially granted an injunction after hearing only the wife who at that time did not know of the substance of the Husband’s applications in the Syariah courts. This injunction was continued whilst the case was heard in the High Court. After the husband submitted his evidence, and after the High Court heard both parties, it refused to give the injunction. However, the High Court granted an interim injunction to the wife pending the hearing of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, known as an “Erinford Injunction”.
The majority decision of the Court of Appeal dismissed the wife’s appeal and set aside the Erinford Injunction with costs, effectively shutting the door on Subashini’s rights as a mother to prevent the Syariah court making a determination as to her marriage and as to the custody of her children.
To add to her problem, the majority have ruled that Subashini, a non-Muslim, must apply to the Syariah Court, instead of applying to the High Court. Of particular concern to us is the statement by YA Dato’ Hasan Lah, JCA that the High Court and the Syariah Court must be regarded as having the same standing in this country.
We are also concerned to note that in his grounds of judgment YA Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar, JCA quoted a verse from the Quran and appeared to be elevating the role and prominence of Islamic law and the Islamic judicial system in Malaysia. We would respectfully remind members of the Judiciary that the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and the High Courts in Malaya and in Sabah and Sarawak are all civil courts and Judges of those courts take an oath of office to uphold the Federal Constitution, which guarantees all persons, including non Muslims, the fundamental liberty of professing and practising their faiths in peace and harmony. It is very clear and specific in the State legislative list in the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution that the “Syariah Courts … shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam …”.
The learned Judges in the majority appear to note that requirement in their judgments, but with respect appear to contradict themselves by then requiring the non Muslim wife to go to the Syariah courts. We express our objection to any requirement for non-Muslims to have to go to the Syariah Court for relief as such courts apply Islamic theological law. Religious laws cannot be applied to people who do not profess that religion.
The Court of Appeal in this case and civil courts are expanding Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution. We are also concerned that Syariah Courts are usurping functions which are not theirs. Consequently, non-Muslims are unable to obtain relief when the Syariah Court makes an order which interferes with their fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of Malaysia. Our highest court had declared in the case of Che Omar bin Che Soh v. P.P. (1988) 2 MLJ 55 that Article 3 of the Constitution was never intended to extend the application of Syaria to the sphere of public law. We object to any interpretation of our Constitution or our laws that deprive any person of his fundamental liberties, and deny access to a non Muslim to the High Court applying the general civil law.
We urgently call on the Government to immediately make the necessary legislative amendments to safeguard the rights of all Malaysians and to ensure non Muslims have full and proper access to justice in the civil courts.
Dato’ Chee Peck Kiat, President