Subashini decision – constitution being rewritten
by Malay Law Student
Not only is the majority decision in R Subashini case wholly unacceptable to all right-thinking Malaysians – the decision has wider and more worrying long-term implications for the direction of the country.
In the writings of Montesquieu and AV Dicey, whose works underpin the concept of democracy, the judiciary is conceived of as the final bulwark of justice upon which the hapless citizen can depend when he or she is pitted against the seemingly endless resources of the state. Moreover, the judiciary is the arm of government charged with upholding the spirit and purpose of the constitution.
Our Federal Constitution clearly limits the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court to “persons professing the religion of Islam”. [Sch. 9, List 2 (1), Federal Constitution] By expanding the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court to non-Muslims, the decision of the majority of the Court of Appeal in the Subashini case turns the traditional view of the role of the judiciary on its head.
Here, we have a situation where the judiciary is performing the most fantastic of legal gymnastics in order to side with the state, going as far as to adopt a highly dubious interpretation of the very constitution it was meant to protect. So severe are the possible implications of this interpretation that it would be reasonable to view the decision in Subashini as an attempt to rewrite our constitution.
Irrespective of one’s preferences or personal beliefs, it is a fact that were it not for the constitution, most of our structures of governance including the judiciary and the syariah courts themselves would have nothing upon which to base their legitimacy and authority.
Thus, to establish a precedent where a fundamental provision of the constitution affecting a large proportion of the population is so glaringly contradicted in such a casual fashion could be the start of a very slippery slope – one with the potential to threaten the very foundations of our nation.
In view of this, judges and legislators must ask some harsh questions of themselves. Principally, they must decide whether they are prepared to forgo narrow, communal interests for the good of the nation.
A judge has a duty which is owed to all Malaysians and that duty is to fearlessly uphold the principles of the constitution, even if it conflicts with his or her personal or religious beliefs. Currently, Malaysia possesses far too few judges of this calibre.
Overall, we can draw two points from the majority decision in this case. First, it typifies why the Bar Council’s call for the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Committee must not go unheeded. Second, the disaster that is the 1988 amendment to Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution must be rectified to enable our judiciary to regain its distant integrity.
A concerned Malaysia Uncut reader, Kay, forwarded some pictures reputedly of an Air Asia plane crash. He/She said: It would be scary if news like this (provided it is true), is suppressed by the Malaysian Government…
Further details are unavailable. The source and authenticity of the pictures could not be verified. Could someone shed some light on this? Here are more pictures of the alleged crash:
The Malaysian public are being denied access to vital information about the environment. This is not only in breach of international standards, but also places both citizens and the environment at risk. Greater environmental openness would enable more effective participation in environmental stewardship and decision-making, promoting a truly public interest approach in terms of providing an appropriate balance between competing interests reducing corruption and breach of the rules, and leading to greater protection for the environment. It would also help individuals safeguard themselves against environmental hazards.
Malaysia is home to one of the world’s twelve areas of mega-biodiversity. Yet pollution and habitat loss – very often the consequence of big development projects – are taking their toll on local communities and are threatening the country’s abundant natural richness. The government’s approach has been characterised by undue secrecy and the withholding of information, seriously undermining the ability of citizens to participate in decision-making around issues which affect the environment.
2006 International Privacy Survey
Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. Recently, it issued the 2006 results of the ranking assessment of the state of privacy in the world.
The aim of this survey was to find countries with nurtured privacy protection and respect for privacy. The survey does not want to humiliate the worst ranking countries but to show that good privacy environment is possible.
Summary of key findings Continue reading
by Dr Farish A Noor
The bottom line is that the Hindu temples of Malaysia are and have always been part of the Malaysian cultural landscape. Hinduism is one of the Malaysian faiths. It has been rooted in the culture of Southeast Asia for more than 2,000 years. If anything, its long historical embeddedness shows that it deserves more than a token mention in the history books.
Religion’s entry into politics often leads to its politicisation and loss of its core spiritual values. This is painfully obvious to the scholars who have watched the rise of political variants of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism the world over. This has led many an analyst to the somewhat depressing conclusion that despite its lofty ideals religion has yet to develop immunity to the temptation of power. Since every religion is understood and judged by the actions and behaviour of its adherents, it is clear that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists are often themselves the reason why these religions get such bad press these days.
A HOUSE DIVIDED: The battle over the true spiritual beliefs of Kaliammal’s late husband reflects Malaysia?s widening religious fault lines
How well do you know your husband?
For Kaliammal Sinnasamy, a Hindu married to a member of the first Malaysian team to scale Mt. Everest, the answer, she thought, was obvious. “I married a Hindu man, lived with him as a Hindu, bore him a Hindu child and watched him die as a Hindu,” says the now 32-year-old office cleaner. But when Kaliammal went to the hospital in December 2005 to claim her spouse’s body after he died of a protracted illness, she received another shock. Her husband, Maniam Moorthy, had secretly converted to Islam before his death, said Islamic authorities. According to Islamic law, he would be buried in a Muslim cemetery. No, insisted Kaliammal, he would undergo Hindu rites. Both sides headed to court. But Malaysia—a multiethnic nation composed largely of Muslim Malays, Hindu Indians and Buddhist and Christian Chinese—employs a dual legal system. Muslims are subject to Shari’a law for issues such as marriage, property and death, while non-Muslims use civil courts. First, the Shari’a court ruled that Kaliammal’s husband was a Muslim. Then, the civil court refused to intervene. “This court cannot undo, vary or overrule any decisions made by the Islamic Shari’a court,” said Judge Raus Shariff to a packed courtroom. “We have absolutely no jurisdiction over Islam.”
Our foreign policy religiously-biased
by Low Leng Hua
I refer to the letter Dr M has no right to moral high ground and feel that the writer has hit the nail right on the head on the issue raised. I want to add here that it is not only Dr M who practised such selective international policies and worldview, but that the present Abdullah administration is also guilty of the same thing.
We will see the government of a supposedly mult racial country rushing to send aid and assistance to Muslim nations stricken by natural disasters but when similar catastrophes occur elsewhere in a non-Muslim nation, we will hear nothing from the government. We always hear propaganda saying that our country gives assistance without looking at race, colour or religious leanings but the truth of the matter is that they will only help Muslim countries.
Dr M has no right to moral high ground
I refer to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. All I can say is that under Dr M’s tenure as prime minister of Malaysia, the country’s policy concerning human rights and crimes against humanity was very simple and obvious. Catholics and Protestants can kill each other. Sri Lankan’s Sinhalese and Tamils can kill each other. Government-sponsored genocide with Hutus killing Tutsis would elicit no condemnation from the Malaysian government.These are merely non-Muslims killing non-Muslims. Muslims can also kill Muslims. Like what is happening in Darfur. Will the Sudanese leaders be regarded as war criminals by Dr M? Oh no, that is not genocide. Because that does not fit the equation. The simple equation is that non-Muslims cannot kill Muslims. Any other equation is, if not acceptable, at least not a war crime.