MPs echo Sultan Selangor's call to respect Federal Court ruling

KUALA LUMPUR: More avenues need to be explored in enhancing the competence of state legislative bodies in enacting Syariah criminal laws, say politicians.

They also said that decree of the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah for all parties to respect the decisions of the Federal Court and the position of the constitution as the supreme law of the country, was a timely reminder.

Sultan Sharafuddin, who is the chairman of the Malaysian National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI), said this in response to the Federal Court's decision to nullify 16 provisions under the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (1) Enactment 2019.

Pasir Gudang member of Parliament (MP) Hassan Abdul Karim agreed and supported Sultan Sharafuddin's statement.

"As an MP and a civil lawyer, I agree and support the Sultan of Selangor's statement that all parties respect the decision made by the Federal Court.

"I also agree with Sultan Sharafuddin's suggestion to explore ways to expand the competence of state legislative assemblies to enact Syariah criminal laws in our country, which applies the Federalism system where the Federal Constitution is supreme," he said

However, Hassan said the Federal Constitution framework should not be too rigid, suggesting that certain articles be amended to ensure that such overlaps with the Syariah laws of the states do not occur in the future.

"The Parliament and the current federal government must give due consideration to the needs and aspiration of the Muslim societies in all states of the Federation of Malaysia to see the Islamic laws applied and recognised in the Syariah Court.

"I suggest that our Federal Constitution be amended in relevant articles and provisions, especially in respect of the Federal lists, state lists and concurrent lists so that no duplication or clash exists between the Federal Criminal Laws and the states Syariah criminal laws," he said.

Meanwhile, Tumpat MP Datuk Mumtaz Md Nawi echoed Sultan of Selangor's statement, saying Malaysians should welcome initiatives and recommendations to the state assembly to improvise and empower its original function as an Islamic legislative body.

Mumtaz said the future of Islamic laws and the Syariah courts would be better served with amendments to the constitution.

"To facilitate this process, state muftis, Syariah lawyers, and non-governmental organisations are encouraged to provide recommendations and opinions to committees and state legislative bodies.

"The primary objective is to empower state legislative assemblies to enact laws on Islamic matters, thereby addressing contemporary issues effectively," she said.

She recommended identifying all possible avenues to expand and empower Islamic Criminal Law, aligning it with advancements in the courts and the expertise of syariah experts.

"Only experts, syariah lawyers, and syariah judges should be allowed to interpret and adjudicate these cases, which are now more complicated and challenging," she said.

She reminded the public, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, to be proud of and respect the duality in the court.

"Muslims should be given the full option to exercise their rights and responsibilities as Muslims, as long as it does not infringe on non-Muslims," she added.

However, Lawyer A. Surendra Ananth said His Majesty's call was very timely, as the public must respect the decision of the court, even though they disagree.

"While it is acceptable to comment and criticise, we cannot insult the judges or attack them personally.

"Here, the majority of judges merely upheld the Federal Constitution," he said.

However, Surendra said a constitutional amendment is not necessary, as the Federal Court has made it clear that purely religious offences that only concern Muslims are within the competence of the states.

"Offences like zina, gambling and alcohol consumption are all valid, but if we expand the Islamic offence jurisdiction by amending the constitution, then you will have two laws on the same offence," he said.

Instead, he proposed that Parliament take the lead in ensuring consistency across all state Islamic laws and amending the Syariah Criminal Offences Act in the Federal Territories.

"This initiative aims to ensure that all such laws exclusively address religious offences, thus avoiding any overlap with federal legislation," he said.

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