Saturday, December 13, 2014
Eminent concern or Eminent deception?
On Monday, The Star published an open letter from 25 Malays - former senior government servants, ambassadors, professionals and activists - expressing their concern on unresolved disputes on Islamic law and called on the leadership to initiate a consultation process.
The pro-opposition alternative media dubbed them as the 25 Eminent Malays.
These Eminent Malays felt there is an unclear division on federal-state power on Islamic matter and Islamic authorities acted.beyond their jurisdiction, thus the need for a consultation to resolve.
The idea of a consultation is fine and had been advocated by this blog before. [Read our 2013 Christmas wish here and 2007 lecture review here].
Problem with past initiatives for consultative process is that it could not get off the ground due to the adversarial nature of legal issues.
Attempt for consultation like NUCC had been marred by attempt from certain party to exclude certain party/ies.
For this supposedly sincere concern, there was unnecessary blame insinuated and openly mentioned towards certain parties. The blamed parties have big followings but were intended to be excluded from process of consultation.
The mere mention of "As moderate Muslims ..." made us cautious of a certain agenda being promoted [read on theological warfare in Civil Democratic Islam here]. We are Muslims, no further categorisation required.
The letter in blue and our comment in black, below:
Published: Monday December 8, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 8, 2014 MYT 8:02:31 AM
Need for a consultative process
WE, a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia, would like to express how disturbed and deeply dismayed we are, over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country.
The on-going debate over these matters display a lack of clarity and understanding on the place of Islam within our constitutional democracy.
Moreover, they reflect a serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions.
We refer specifically to the current situation where religious bodies seem to be asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; where issuance of various fatwa violate the Federal Constitution and breach the democratic and consultative process of shura; where the rise of supremacist NGOs accusing dissenting voices of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay has made attempts at rational discussion and conflict resolution difficult; and most importantly, where the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion.
Comment: It is only the forth para and the unnecessary bashing (in italics) began.
Dato Saifuddin Abdullah, a WANTED name to the eyes of many, made no bone to target his bashing on Perkasa and ISMA. Read in his FB here.
Refering to the statement, is it logical for such religious matter like fatwa be subjected to Federal Constitution, democratic practise and consultation beyond the learned elders of the faith?
If the intrusion of legalistically inclined into the realm of religious affair is not bad enough, a non-Muslim lawyer had openly commented that the Quran has to be re-interpreted.
Yet the 25 Eminent Malays did not response and decided that ...
These developments undermine Malaysia’s commitment to democratic principles and rule of law, breed intolerance and bigotry, and have heightened anxieties over national peace and stability.
As moderate Muslims, we are particularly concerned with the statement issued by Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, in response to the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the right of transgendered women to dress according to their identity.
Jamil viewed the right of the transgender community and Sisters in Islam (SIS) to seek legal redress as a “new wave of assault on Islam” and as an attempt to lead Muslims astray from their faith, and put religious institutions on trial in a secular court.
Comment: Ah ... the moderate Muslim term.
Isn't it strange that a Minister on Islamic affair not be allowed to express his view on a wave that is obvious and had been building up since the Lina Joy case?
Are they trying to handcuff a Minister from undertaking a position and exercising his authority?
Article 121 (1A) on the division of syariah and civil case clear, thus where does it undermine the rule of law. In the opinion of former CJ, Tun Hamid, the transgender case is not the purview of the Court of Appeal. Perhaps, so does the SIS case.
Are these 25 eminent people contemptously trying to sway the court through their influence on public opinion? Only Islam Liberal and Pluralist believed that there should be room for ijtihad for the unlearned.
Upon expressing their legal concern, they steer into politics ....
Such an inflammatory statement from a Federal Minister (and not for the first time) sends a public message that the Prime Minister’s commitment to the path of moderation need not be taken seriously when a Cabinet minister can persistently undermine it.
These issues of concern that we raise are of course difficult matters to address given the extreme politicisation of race and religion in this country.
However, we believe there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.
Comment: Would they be SINCERE to bring all the relevant expertise or in the case of the NUCC, the experts that meets their purpose?
We also believe the Prime Minister is best placed with the resources and authority to lead this consultative process.
It is urgent that all Malaysians are invested in finding solutions to these longstanding areas of conflict that have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law, and undermined stability.
Comment: To do this, it has to be done with sincerity and in the course to include the minority, it must not exclude the majority.
There are many pressing issues affecting all of us that need the urgent leadership and vision of the Prime Minister, the support of his Cabinet and all moderate Malaysians. They include:
Comment: From the claim as moderate Muslim, they then claim themselves as the voice of moderate Malaysians. Are they representative of certain quantifiable numbers of followers or members that is comparable to the followers and members of PERKASA and ISMA?
Is their so-called categorised moderate Malaysians the majority?
i) A plural legal system that has led to many areas of conflict and overlap between civil and syariah laws. In particular there is an urgent need to review the Syariah Criminal Offences (SCO) laws of Malaysia.
These laws which turn all manner of “sins” into crimes against the state have led to confusion and dispute in both substance and implementation.
They are in conflict with Islamic legal principles and constitute a violation of fundamental liberties and state intrusion into the private lives of citizens. In 1999, the Cabinet directed the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the SCO laws.
But to this day, they continue to be enforced with more injustices perpetrated.
The public outrage, debates over issues of jurisdiction, judicial challenge, accusations of abuses committed, gender discrimination, and deaths and injuries caused in moral policing raids have eroded the credibility of the SCO laws, the law-making process, and public confidence that Islamic law could indeed bring about justice.
Comment: So Government is not efficient. What is the new development then?
So far merely presumption and generalisation made. Specifics please!
ii) The lack of public awareness, even among top political leaders, on the legal jurisdiction and substantive limits of the powers of the religious authorities and administration of Islamic laws in Malaysia.
The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law enacted, including Islamic laws, cannot violate the Constitution, in particular the provisions on fundamental liberties, federal-state division of powers and legislative procedures.
All Acts, Enactments and subsidiary legislations, including fatwas, are bound by constitutional limits and are open to judicial review.
Comment: What specifics has the Islamic laws (or Syariah Criminal Offense) violate the fundamental liberties and federal-state division of authority in the Constitution? Does civil criminal offense not violate fundamental liberties should a prison sentence be applied?
iii) The need to ensure the right of citizens to debate the ways Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in this country.
The Islamic laws of Malaysia are drafted by the Executive arm of government and enacted in the Legislative bodies by human beings.
Their source may be divine, but the enacted laws are not divine. They are human made and therefore fallible, open to debate and challenge to ensure that justice is upheld.
Comment: Ah ... the Islam Liberals and Plural argument against the authority of ulamak. It only shows the liberalists and pluralists ignorance in the process to issue fatwa.
If the application is not as divine, then are they ready for hudud law? Surely they will say no.
iv) The need to promote awareness of the rich diversity of interpretive texts and juristic opinions in the Islamic tradition.
This includes conceptual legal tools that exist in the tradition that enable reform to take place and the principles of equality and justice to be upheld, in particular in response to the changing demands, role and status of women in the family and community.
Comment: True, but it has to be interpreted by those with authority and adhered by opinionated former senior civil servants, ambassadors, professionals and activists.
Not the other way around.
v) The need for the Prime Minister to assert his personal leadership as well as appoint key leaders who will, in all fairness, champion open and coherent debate and discourse on the administration of Islamic laws in this country to ensure that justice is done.
We especially urge that the leadership sends a clear signal that rational and informed debate on Islamic laws in Malaysia and how they are codified and implemented are not regarded as an insult to Islam or to the religious authorities.
Comment: So far it is an insult and open request of an uninformed nature. How do you start to even begin a rational and informed debate?
These issues may seem complex to many, but at the end of the day, it really boils down to this: as Muslims, we want Islamic law, even more than civil law, to meet the highest standards of justice precisely because it claims to reflect divine justice.
Therefore, those who act in the name of Islam through the administration of Islamic law must bear the responsibility of demonstrating that justice is done, and is seen to be done.
Comment: Thus, those with neither the responsibility nor authority, power-wise or knowledge-wise, should trust that the practising and learned Muslims are equally and perhaps more concerned in their aspiration to attain divine justice.
When Islam was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. in 7th century Arabia, it was astoundingly revolutionary and progressive.
Over the centuries, the religion has guided believers through harsh and challenging times.
Comment: To appreciate so, the believers must learn to understand Islam from the perspective of Islam and not from a skewed and slanted liberal or pluralist view of orientalist.
It is our fervent belief that for Islam to continue to be relevant and universal in our times, the understanding, codification and implementation of the teachings of our faith must continue to evolve.
Comment: Evolve? Religion cannot be applied Darwin's questionable theory of biological transformation. Refinement could be more accurate.
Only with this, can justice, as enjoined by Allah S.W.T. prevail.
1. Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Din
Former Secretary-General, Home Ministry
2. Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar
Former Secretary-General, Foreign Ministry
3. Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman
Former Secretary-General, Finance Ministry
4. Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican
Former Director-General, Health Ministry
5. Tan Sri Datuk Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim
Former Secretary-General, Finance Ministry
6. Tan Sri Datuk Dr Mustaffa Babjee
Former Director-General, Veterinary Services
7. Tan Sri Nuraizah Abdul Hamid
Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry
8. Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang
Cardiothoracic Surgeon and
Core Founder, National Heart Institute
9. Datuk Seri Shaik Daud Md Ismail
Former Court of Appeal Judge
10. Datuk Abdul Kadir Mohd Deen
11. Datuk Anwar Fazal
Former Senior Regional Advisor
United Nations Development Programme
12. Datuk Dali Mahmud Hashim
13. Datuk Emam Mohd Haniff Mohd Hussein
14. Datuk Faridah Khalid
Representative of Women’s Voice
15. Datuk Latifah Merican Cheong
Former Assistant Governor, Bank Negara
16. Lt Gen (Rtd) Datuk Maulob Maamin
Lieutenant General (Rtd)
17. Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin
18. Datuk Ranita Hussein
Former Suhakam Commissioner
19. Datuk Redzuan Kushairi
20. Datuk Dr Sharom Ahmat
Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Universiti Sains Malaysia
21. Datuk Syed Arif Fadhillah
22. Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad
Malaysian Timber Industry Board
23. Datuk Zainuddin Bahari
Former Deputy Secretary-General
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry
24. Datin Halimah Mohd Said
Former Lecturer, Universiti Malaya and President,
Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE)
25. Hendon Mohamad
Past President, Malaysian Bar
The indirect attack on Perkasa and ISMA, published by Dato Wong Chun Wai's The Star and affirmed by Saifuddin's statement only leads to the suspicion it is orchestrated by Global Movement for Moderate (GMM), hijackers of the term wassatiyah.
Board of Trustees of GMM is chaired by Tan Sri Razali Ismail, and Wong and Redzuan Khusairi as members [see the Board of Trustee here]. Saifuddin is the CEO [see here].
Among the many, Saifuddin and Wong have been known to be fervent critics of Perkasa and ISMA. Saifuddin has exploited his media social platforms for this purpose. Wong used his DAP-studded, The Star newspaper.
He criticised and negatively label Perkasa, ISMA and any emerging voices championing Islam and Malay constitutional rights. As someone believed by blogger Helen Ang as an agent of deceiptful "evangelism", Wong had been instrumental in suppressing any voices demanding such rights from being exercised.
He has been a constant voice demanding the prosecution for Dato Ibrahim Ali for the Malay Bible burning despite told of no case by Attorney General, Tan Sri Gani Patail. No decent thinking AG would charge Ibrahim Ali with a federal court judgement on the Malay Bible with kalimah Allah in his favour.
Ibrahim Ali was recently acquited by the Court of Appeal for contempt of court [read MI here]. He plans to sue Wong [read FMT here] and maybe even Khairy. Any more nasty remarks from the likes of Dato Wee Ka Siong, and Dato Nurjazlan, they should make themselves ready too.
Strangely, none came from the opposition.
With this in the background, there had been few bad exchanges between some of the 25 personalities with Perkasa and ISMA position holders. It only divert what ever good intention left of the 25 Eminent Malays.
The impact of the 25 influential Eminent Malays has yet to be ascertained but opposition leaders like Teresa Kok and liberal PAS like Dato Mahfuz Omar have jumped in with the hope to gain the support of government servants.
However, in a conversation yesterday with a former senior civil servant and contemporary to those named, he expressed surprise and doubt they have betrayed the common cause they held on to. Before that in a private conversation, one Tan Sri said senior civil servants do not make such position openly and would usually do so discreetly. An Islamic activist-lawyer had his father-in-law in the list and doubt had such strong legal view against Islamic religious authorities.
Thus, could some of the eminent names been deceived?
Maybe some had agreed to a certain objective of the open letter but instead, it was written and/or published differently. Wong probably knows as to who wrote it.
He has expressed willingness to see Ibrahim in court [read The Star here]. It is not usual for this lallang to be this brave.
Could there be more not known behind this open letter? With so many outstanding interfaith issues, it is the cross dressing and SIS cases that was given prominence.
* Edited 10.30 AM 14/12/20
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