MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have no raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court
MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have not raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court.
This unconstitutional move by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom to have a parallel court system at the federal level
was reported on Thursday’s Berita Harian, and MCA and Gerakan Ministers – as well as other Cabinet members – were remiss in their constitutional oath and political responsibilities in failing to object to such a proposal at Friday’s Cabinet meeting and to demand that all Federal Government involvement in such an unconstitutional development be halted immediately.
Instead, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers have chosen to ask their lowly representatives who are neither in Parliament or any State Assembly to raise objections, knowing that such voices would be ignored completely – when the right and proper place for such objections to be raised is the Cabinet on Friday.
The establishment of a Syariah Federal Court with equivalent powers of the civil Federal Court goes against the very structure and foundation of the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 and Malaysia Constitution of 1963, stipulating that the Constitution is supreme and that any law, whether federal or state, primary or secondary, enacted before or after Merdeka, which infringes the Constitution is void.
Furthermore, it is the civil courts which have the power to review all legislation on the touchstone of constitutionality.
Although Article 3(1) provides that “Islam is the religion of the federation”, Article 3(4) says “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution” – which means that Article 3(1) does not override any other provisions of the Constitution, including the many fundamental rights in Articles 5 – 13.
It is the Constitution and not the syariah that is the litmus test of constitutionality.
State Assemblies have the power to legislate on 21 permitted areas of Islamic personal law and to create and punish offences against the precepts of Islam but subject to the limitations that they cannot try non-Muslims and state power over Islamic crimes does not cover matters in the federal list or dealt with by federal law. State power to punish Islamic crimes is regulated by a federal law on penalties: maximum six lashes, RM5,000 fine and three years jail.