In the zest of upholding the feminist movement in the perspective and flavour of universal rights, Sisters in Islam activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is generalising the Malaysian democratic system in the most simplistic interpretation.
The Malay Main online story:
Malaysia not theocratic dictatorship, SIS tells Jamil Khir
BY BOO SU-LYN
NOVEMBER 10, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Women’s advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS) has told minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia is a democracy and not a theocratic dictatorship.
The Muslim women’s rights NGO also said shariah laws are man-made and therefore not infallible, pointing out that the recent court challenges by SIS against a fatwa and by a group of Muslim transgender men against a state shariah law prohibiting cross-dressing were challenges to the “unjust and inefficient” Islamic legal system in Malaysia.
“We would like to remind the minister that Malaysia is a democratic country, not a theocratic dictatorship,” Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, a member of SIS’ board of directors, told Malay Mail Online.
“Our Federal Constitution guarantees the fundamental liberties of every citizen including Muslims. The rule of law applies to everyone, and everyone has a right to seek redress in the courts if they feel they have been unfairly treated,” she added.
SIS also expressed alarm at the call by Jamil Khir, who is the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs, for all Muslims to defend their faith from liberal ideologies “by any method”.
“Does this mean he is giving the go-ahead for anyone to take vigilante action against those the minister deems un-Islamic, including violence? Does this mean that should anyone physically attack such persons, the state will take no action against them?” Marina asked.
Jamil Khir said yesterday that in a “new wave” of assault, Muslim transgenders and SIS are colluding with Islam’s enemies to put its religious institutions on trial in a secular court.
The minister was responding to two recent court challenges where state Islamic authorities were cast into a defensive role, with one initiated by SIS at the High Court here against a Selangor religious edict, or fatwa, declaring their organisation and its members “deviants”.
The other was a separate case mounted by a group of transgender men who were convicted of cross-dressing under the Negri Sembilan state shariah law, which they won at the Court of Appeal Friday.
A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal had unanimously ruled Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992 to be unconstitutional as it violated the three Muslim men’s right to freedom of expression.
Jamil Khir said Islamic institutions like the state Islamic councils must work together to face “this new wave against Islam”, claiming that there is an “agenda” outside the country’s predominant religion aiming to twist the faith of Muslims.
Malaysia’s religious authorities have long derided liberalism and pluralism, with Friday sermons nationwide claiming a conspiracy by “enemies of Islam” to manipulate Muslims through ideas like secularism, socialism, feminism and positivism, in addition to the two.
The comment of simplistic generalisation could be seen as immature, especially when taken out of context. The fact is that Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd. Yasin and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs Dato’ Sri Jamil Khir Baharom urged the Negeri Sembilan State Government to appeal against the CoA judgement.
‘Negri body must appeal ruling on Muslim men’
BY A. AZIM IDRIS AND LAVANYA LINGAN – 10 NOVEMBER 2014 @ 8:15 AM
PUTRAJAYA: NEGRI Sembilan’s religious authorities should seek to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision declaring its law forbidding Muslim men from dressing up as women as unconstitutional, says Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Describing the landmark ruling as “extraordinary” and “shocking”, Muhyiddin said although the court must be respected, the religious authorities should try to get the ruling reversed.
This was in light of the furore raised by Islamic leaders, including state muftis and Muslim lawyers’ associations, which were left baffled by the judgment.
“There are matters under Syariah courts and Islamic law that have their limitations and can be overruled by the Court of Appeal or other courts,
“Although I am not an expert in the matter, this involves the Federal Constitution (and the decision) needs to be reviewed as it carries great implications.”
Muhyiddin said this during a press conference after chairing a special emergency meeting with the National Security Council on the floods and mudslides in Cameron Highlands, Pahang.
He said the matter should be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Islamic religious departments.
Last week, the Court of Appeal struck down the state law in an unanimous decision delivered by a three-man bench chaired by judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus.
The judgment favoured three transgender persons who challenged Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 1992.
Hishamudin said the provision was unconstitutional as it discriminated against Muslim men suffering from a medical condition called gender identity disorder.
He ruled that the section contravened the fundamental right to liberty, equality before the law, and freedom of movement and expression, as contained in the Federal Constitution.
In Kuala Lumpur, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom urged Negeri Sembilan’s Islamic Religious Department (Jain) to appeal against the ruling as it involved the state authority’s integrity as a body that safeguarded Muslims.
“It also reflects the state authority’s firmness in upholding the faith and curbing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities among Muslims,” he said yesterday, adding it was crucial that Jain take the case to the Federal Court to determine the jurisdiction of a state’s religious authority.
“The ruling affects legal provisions in other states as well. Islamic teachings must be upheld by any possible means.”
Jamil Khir said the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) was ready to intervene in proceedings if Jain were to move forward with the appeal.
He said the provision forbidding Muslim men from imitating women or wearing women’s clothes was in place to curb the spread of LGBT activities that went against Islamic teachings and that all parties must remind themselves that, as stated in the Federal Constitution, Islam was the nation’s official religion.
Jamil criticised Sisters in Islam for filing a judicial review against the Selangor Fatwa Committee, Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and the Selangor government over a fatwa labelling them religious deviants.
“Their attempt to drag the Islamic institutions to civil court is uncalled for,” he said, adding that in 2010, the High Court had rejected an application by ESQ Leadership Centre Sdn Bhd for a judicial review of a fatwa, ruling that civil courts did not have jurisdiction to hear such cases, which come under the Syariah court’s purview.
The fact is that Federation of Malaysia is a country which practice Constitutional Monarchy democratic system. It means that the the democracy falls back on the Federal Constitution, which requires Royal Assent in some matters.
Especially in matters pertaining to Islam and Malay Culture, in nine of the states where there is Malay Ruler. HRHs act as the Constitutional Head for such matters, based on the corresponding State Constitution.
The fundamental liberty system in Malaysia is not and never had been a total democracy. Like it or not, there some limitations of ‘democracy’, which also include the freedom to voice opinion.
The Federal Constitution exist to protect the interest of the community first, above the pleasure of individuals. It exist with the spirit of righteousness.
An example is a man who impose himself on a retarded woman. The woman may not be in the state of mind to stop the man from imposing himself on her. In fact, she might not even be able to report of such hedious act of violation of will.
Let us take a bet that there would be possibility in his defence, the man would cite it is his ‘democratic right’ to impose himself on her.
The Penal Code exist to limit such social deviant from their sinister interpretation of ‘democratic right’ onto others, especially those who are unable to fend for themselves. It is the society which defines that this individual’s act is hedious and criminal.
Same goes to the ‘age of consent’. Can ‘democratic rights’ be an excuse, for sexual relations below the age of consent?
Marina’s statement should be seen as outrageous, if not deemed to be extreme. It is the escalation and expansion of such liberal talks that would eventually morph the situation and mirror interpretation into extremism.
Challenging and confusing the people especially the majority who upholds the conservatism against the principles and values of Islam and the process and administration of Islam and Syariah Law in Malaysia is bordering to extremism.
It is no mystery such continuous attempts by different parties on different angles would simply draw out the Jihad extremists either in reciprocity or reactionary.
The tolerance and accommodation of the Malay-Muslim majority should not be abused and put towards the extreme test. This nation was born from the Social Contract which HRHs compromised for the equal rights of people once deemed ‘Subjects of HRHs’.
Constitutionally and by convention, that has its limitations from the absolute freedom of some minority which to dream for. By no means, moderate Muslims are to be defined for accepting such obscure ideology of ‘free-for-all-anything-goes’ concept.