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Samy Vellu and Lim Keng Yaik should speak up in Cabinet tomorrow to propose amendment of Article 121(1A) to rectify the injustices like the Rayappan and Moorthy cases which were never intended to be created by Parliament when it enacted the constitutional amendment in 1988
(Parliament, Tuesday) : The Cabinet tomorrow should be bold enough to consider amendment of Article 121(1A) to rectify the injustices like the Rayappan and Moorthy cases which were never intended to be created by Parliament when it enacted the constitutional amendment in 1988.
I have no doubt that if during the parliamentary debate in March 1988 on the Constitution Amendment Bill 1988 which enacted Article 121(1A), an MP had the foresight to ask whether the intention was to create injustices and family grief like the Rayappan and Moorthy cases, the answer would be a firm “No”.
In the latest case, the deceased, Rayappan Anthony (71) was a Roman Catholic and had six children from his Christian marriage. He converted to Islam in 1990 when he married a Muslim woman. In 1999 he reconverted to Christianity, and subsequently confirmed his profession of his Christian faith by way of a statutory declaration in front of a Commissioner for Oaths.
The relevant documents prepared by a lawyer and executed by the Commissioner for Oaths, were submitted to the National Registration Department, which accepted the declaration and reinstated Rayappan’s religious status to Christianity. The MYKAD of the deceased (issued 2000) has the word “Christianity” printed below his name.
Malaysia’s international reputation as a model multi-religious nation of tolerance and harmony is not enhanced by another dispute as to whether Rayappan’s cancer-stricken widow, M. Lourdes Mary and her family can bury him according to Christian rites or whether they have lost this right to the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (MAIS).
Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammudin Hussein and other Umno leaders are wrong when they claim that Article 121(1A) is part of the Merdeka “social contract” and cannot be questioned, as Article 121(1A) was a constitutional amendment which was adopted by Parliament 31 years after Merdeka in 1957, and never formed part of the Merdeka “social contract”.
Furthermore, there was no proper consultation with all communities and strata of Malaysians and the different religions before the passage of Article 121(1A) in 1988 – a strong argument why Article 121(1A) should be reviewed in view of the manifest injustices which it has caused and which was never intended by Parliament by enacting it.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 1988 with the proposed Article 121(1A) amendment was presented to Parliament for first reading on 15th March 1988, and rammed through Parliament two days later in a two-day debate during its second reading on March 17 and 18, 1988.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 1988 was enacted at a time of grave national crisis with the doctrine of separation of powers under unprecedented attack – judges threatened with impeachment and seven DAP MPs detained under the Internal Security Act under the infamous Operation Lalang.
This was why Karpal Singh, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Guan Eng, Lau Dak Kee, the late P. Patto, the late V. David and I did not take part in the parliamentary debate in March 1988 as we were incarcerated in the Kamunting Detention Centre.
The new Article 121(1A) was the least-noticed amendment to the many other high-profile amendments in the Constitution Amendment Bill 1988 – in particular the amendment to Article 121 to remove the “judicial power of the Federation” vested in the High Courts which caused irreparable damage to the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers – paving the way for the greatest judicial crisis in the nation’s history with sacking of the Lord President and two Supreme Court judges, a crisis from which the country has not fully recovered.
In view of these circumstances, the Cabinet should initiate a consultation process to review Article 121(1A) to ensure that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in Article 11 is given full and proper meaning and safeguards.
Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik were in the 1988 Cabinet and who voted for the 1988 Constitution Amendment Bill in Parliament on 18th March 1988.
Let them speak up in Cabinet tomorrow to put the record straight – that the enactment of Article 121(1A) in the 1988 Constitution Amendment Bill was never intended to create injustices and family griefs like the Rayappan and Moorthy cases and to get the Cabinet to initiate the necessary amendment to Article 121(1A) to rectify such injustices.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman