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Malaysian government, opposition seeking to contain fallout from court ruling against Kelantan’s Syariah laws

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  • February 10, 2024

ANWAR: RULING PLAYED UP TO DISCREDIT GOVERNMENT 

Mr Anwar on Friday said that the Federal Court’s ruling was purely about determining and distinguishing the powers of the federal government and the state government. 

He said the issue was being played up by the opposition to discredit the federal government.

“They are using the issue to create a sentiment among the Muslims in the country that the federal administration under Anwar’s leadership is against the Syariah.

“Don’t they know that the matter is purely about the powers between the state and federal governments?” he was quoted as saying by the News Straits Times at an event.

He also said that the constitutional challenge was initiated at the Federal Court and not in the cabinet or against the prime minister.

“Having said that, what did PN do when the constitutional challenge was initiated? Why did they not challenge it back then when they were in power? Only now they are speaking about it, trying to politicise the issue,” he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar said in a statement on Friday that the decision did not affect the position of the Syariah Courts as it remains strong as guaranteed in the constitution.

He said that if there was a need for amendment or reform of the law related to the Syariah Court, it would be done immediately.

He added that all stakeholders and parties involved with the Court will be promptly convened to discuss and assess the next steps for its empowerment.

Malaysian opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin, who’s PN’s secretary-general, said that the decision hurt the feelings of Muslims in the country especially as Islam was the official religion as stated in the constitution. 

In a statement he said the development showed a serious weakness in the majority’s right to practice and profess their religion.  

He also claimed that the decision would challenge the Syariah criminal enactment in all states, exposing them to the risk of annulment.

“If viewed from the naked eye, this decision could significantly erode the powers and jurisdictions of the Malay Rulers,” he said, adding that he had requested for audiences with the Malaysian King as well as the ruler of the Selangor state. 

He also hoped that all parties that had an interest in the matter, regardless of their political affiliation, would work together on the issue.   

Earlier on at the court, Islamist party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan, whose party is part of the PN coalition, claimed that it was a “Black Friday” for the Syariah Court and that the judgement could affect Syariah laws in other states.

“When one law is nullified in one state, it means that the Syariah laws in other states are also in a dangerous and critical situation,” he said. 

The petition to the Federal Court was filed by Kelantanese lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman.

They had filed a constitutional challenge against 18 provisions under the state’s syariah criminal enactment.

The Court ruled that two of the provisions were constitutional and valid as the subject matter in the provision were within the state list.  
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