Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Marina Mahathir rants over syariah laws

Laws on Islam are often passed unscrutinised, unlike in civil laws, blogger and newspaper columnist Marina Mahathir said.

Referring to Article 121 (1A) of the Constitution, which states that civil courts have no say with matters within the jurisdiction of the syariah courts, she added:

"Civil laws are drafted, tabled and passed through Parliament. The difference is that, at the tabling stage, they have to be debated before they are passed.

"The quality of the debate may be sometimes wanting but debated they are. This process provides some sort of ‘quality control’ over the laws so that they are, hopefully, current, reflect realities and are just."

However, she alleged, the same does not hold true of syariah laws.

Minority opinion ignored

marina-mahathir-1"When they get tabled at state exco meetings, non-Muslims do not participate because there is the notion that they cannot partake in any such debate.

"That leaves only the Muslim excos, few of whom are women.

"This means that if a bill affects women, the opinions of the female minority in the exco can be

"Furthermore, most people are ignorant about their religion and tend to leave these matters to those they believe know best. Thus, if the State Mufti or religious adviser says it’s a good law, they are unlikely to challenge him.

"Thus, are religious laws passed unscrutinised," she said in her website.

Regarding the caning sentence meted out on three Muslim women recently for indluging in illicit sex, she alleged there was no information about the processes they went through.

"Did they have the benefit of legal representation and heard in an open court? If
they did, who were their lawyers and what defence did they mount?" she asked.

'Sensitive' articles and printing permits

Marina said the punishment, a first for women, did not sit well with rights groups, saying it was at odds with the moderate Islamic nation that the government wants to project to the world.

She saidThe Star had declined to carry her commentary on the syariah laws in her 'Musings' column as the paper "don't want any 'sensitive' articles that may jeopardise their permit."

This followed the show-cause letter from the Home Ministry to the paper over an article by its managing editor, P Gunasegaran, that touched on the caning of the the women.

"Of course the problem is the Publishing and Printing Presses Act , which requires every single publication to apply for a permit every year.

"And no media which wants to survive can afford to get shut down," she added.

MCA blogger and political observer Ti Lian Ker said the fear of closure had probably led to the decision by The Star to not publish Marina's article.

Visitors to the blog of DAP slawart Lim Kit Siang said legacies of the Publishing and Printing Presses Act and the separation of the judiciary could be attributed to Marina's father, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

One reader asked Marina: "Why don’t you get your father to let you post your article in
his blog ? " - Malaysian Mirror

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