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Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories)(Amendment) Bill 2005 – Are Shahrizat and Abdullah Zin Ministers in the same Cabinet?
This is because both are not only talking at cross-purpose, but in clear contradiction of each other, on the controversial Family Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2005 and particularly on its five contentious provisions which seriously erode the status of Muslim women and the sanctity of the family institution.
On the same day the Senate was arm-twisted by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz to “toe the line” to pass the Bill on December 22, 2005, Shahrizat had said that the Cabinet was aware of the discriminatory clauses and had on August 17, 2005 given conditional approval for the Bill to be passed to ensure standardisation of syariah laws in all the states.
Shahrizat said the Cabinet had agreed that the law should be amended after it had been passed. She said her Ministry had earlier objected to all the clauses of the Bill, which discriminated against women.
This however was not the understanding of Abdullah Zin who in the interview blamed women senators and women groups for “being too emotional” and failing to distinguish between “laws and implementation”.
The following Q&A in the Abdullah Zin interview is very revealing:
Q: It has also
been said that the implementation of Islamic laws is biased
On our part, we have organised courses for Syariah judges to ensure they are well-versed in the law.
A full and proper clarification should emanate from the Cabinet tomorrow, whether the Cabinet commitment which Shahrizat had talked about concerned immediate and wide-ranging amendments to the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories)(Amendment) Bill 2005 or basically about implementation of the law, apart from some “minor” amendments?
A very bad precedent had been set whereby Barisan Nasional MPs were told to “toe the line” where “they are free to debate and speak their mind, but when it comes to a vote, they have to follow”, which is completely against the spirit and call by the Prime Minister for an end to the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” Malaysian malaise!
The Prime Minister has the opportunity to put things right by getting full Cabinet endorsement tomorrow for a new policy whereby MPs are allowed to vote according to their conscience on moral and social issues.
The Cabinet should realize that the parliamentary farce on the passage of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories)(Amendment) Bill should not be compounded and that the best solution in the circumstances is to recommend the withholding of the Royal Assent for the Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill to return it to both Houses of Parliament for reconsideration and appropriate amendments to protect the status and rights of Muslim women and the family institution.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman