Friday, April 02, 2010

Muslim lawyers challenge Sultan’s decision

Kartika (right) hugs her father, Shukarnor Mutalib, outside a children’s home in Kuantan April 2, 2010. — Picture by Jack Ooi
The Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) today disputed the Sultan of Pahang’s decision to commute Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor’s sentence, saying the ruler’s decree may not be in accordance with Islamic law.
They said that the rights and powers of the ruler as the head of the religion in the state were contingent on him defending Islamic law and the Syariah courts.

PPMM secretary-general, Abdul Halim Bahari, said that the Sultan’s decision also did not reflect Kartika’s wishes to be caned instead of performing community service.

“The royal decree does not take into account the wishes and desires of Kartika, who wants to be caned according the Syariah because of the offence committed by her. Kartika is also facing pressure to appeal against the caning penalty but is still determined to be sentenced according the Syariah,” Abdul Halim said in a press statement.

The part-time model was sentenced to six strokes of the rotan and fined RM5,000 for drinking beer at a hotel in Cherating on July 11, 2008.

However, the caning sentence that was delayed from last August was replaced with a community service order two days ago by the Sultan of Pahang, who is also the head of Islam in the state.

The state ruler had instead ordered her to perform community service at a children’s home in Kuantan for three weeks.

Muslim lawyers are now worried that the Sultan was not defending the country’s Islamic legal system.

“PPMM is concerned that royal decree does not have the legitimacy before the law because even though the Sultan is the head of the state’s religion, he must defend Islamic laws and strengthen (the) institution of Islamic courts. The rights and power as the head of the state’s religion must be conducted according to the canon of the law,” Abdul Halim said.

He added that Islamic interpretation for the punishment of alcohol consumption was definite and not open to interpretation.

PPMM also questioned the reasons provided for not proceeding with Kartika’s sentence.

“PPMM is curious why the sentence was commuted based humanitarian factor when the punishment itself is very light and has its own philosophy. Syariah caning is different from civil caning which injures and tortures offenders. Syariah caning is more like a father educating his son,” he added.

Abdul Halim stressed that matters related to the Islamic law must be advised by the state’s Mufti.

“Syariah punishment which has been commuted must be advised by the Mufiti.  The Mufti has the responsibility to advise the Sultan on Islamic legislation,” he said.

The association also urged politicians and NGOS not to politicise Islamic laws for their own self interest.

“PPMM stresses that each law stipulated by God has its own philosophy and sometimes is beyond the human logic. Therefore, we cannot use one’s mind to match Allah’s resolution,” he said.

The Muslim group has been campaigning for Kartika’s caning to proceed and accused those against the Syariah sentence of not understanding the dual legal system practiced in the country.

Kartika today began serving her three-week community service order at the Tengku Ampuan Fatimah Children’s Home in Kuantan.

Courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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