Malaysian government, opposition seeking to contain fallout from court ruling against Kelantan’s Syariah laws
PN might however use the issue for political mileage, albeit on groundless claims. “If they use the issue, it will show their ignorance about the constitution”
(CNA) – Political leaders from the ruling and opposition camps have sought to contain the fallout of a controversial court decision on Friday (Feb 9) against the use of 16 Islamic legislations in the Kelantan state, with analysts warning against politicisation of the issue based on groundless claims.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the ruling had nothing to do with the federal government undermining the powers and position of the Syariah laws in the country, while the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) claimed that the decision hurt the feelings of Muslims in the country and could erode the power of the country’s royalty.
Malaysia has a dual-track legal system with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside secular laws. Islamic laws are enacted by state legislatures while secular laws are passed by Malaysia’s parliament.
A nine-member Federal Court bench, in an 8-1 decision, declared 16 laws in Kelantan’s Syariah criminal code “void and invalid”, including provisions criminalising sodomy, incest, gambling, sexual harassment, and desecrating places of worship.
Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who delivered the majority judgement said that the Kelantan state had no power to enact the laws, as the subject matter was covered under parliament’s law-making powers.
She also stressed that the issue of civil courts not defending Islam or of not strengthening the Syariah Courts did not arise.
Political analyst Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya (UM) told CNA that PN might however use the issue for political mileage, albeit on groundless claims.
“If they use the issue, it will show their ignorance about the constitution,” he said.
About 1,000 demonstrators – many supporters of the opposition – had gathered outside the court to hear the decision.
Almost two-thirds of the Malaysian population are Muslim.
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.