Pas doesn’t respect the Federal Constitution!

By P Ramakrishnan

Pas is politicizing the Federal Court decision, agitating the Muslims seemingly by stirring the cauldron of hatred and fear, and it further wants to amend the Federal Constitution to empower syariah laws.

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Whenever there arises a dispute over a matter of disagreement which cannot be settled by commonsense and compromise, it is referred to the judiciary to act as an arbitrator for a settlement.

In most cases, the final decision of the court is accepted graciously and the matter ends there. But it is not uncommon to have disgruntled disputants who don’t allow matters to rest. They will stir up emotions and arouse feelings of hate over the court’s decision.

 This is what is happening in the case of Kelantan’s Syariah Criminal Code Amendments 2019 passed by the Kelantan State Assembly. The State Assembly passed 18 amendments to illegitimate certain acts and behaviour. 

Two lawyers from Kelantan, a mother and daughter, challenged the amendments and referred the case to the Federal Court for a constitutional decision. Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Natasha Tengku Abdul Rahman, wanted these amendments nullified.

A full bench of nine judges, headed by the Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, heard the arguments from both sides, deliberated on the outcome and ruled in an 8-1 majority decision that allowed the petition by Nik Elin and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Natasha to nullify the 16 Kelantan syariah criminal provisions.

In delivering the decision of the highest court of the land, the Chief Justice took pains to emphasise that the issue before the court has nothing to do with the position of Islam or the Syariah Court in the country.

All that was needed of the court was to determine whether the Kelantan State Assembly made the provisions in accordance with the limitations set by the Federal Constitution or otherwise.

Clearly, the State Assembly had erred in passing these amendments. And therefore, they were nullified by the supreme court of judges overwhelmingly.

Pas secretary-general Takiyuddin bin Haji Hassan had condemned the decision as “Black Friday” for the syariah laws. He threatened, “Starting from this moment, we will mobilise our road shows across the nation.”

There is also a suggestion that the Federal Constitution must be amended to empower syariah laws.

The Pas stand on this matter raises some pertinent questions. We must ask Takiyuddin why Pas participated in the court proceedings in the first instance. If it felt that it was not a matter concerning the Federal Court, it should have stayed away from it. In other words, it should have boycotted the proceedings.

Having participated, it has a moral obligation to respect the final decision of the court. Being a lawyer, Takiyuddin should be aware of it. It is the end of the road for this issue. The bug stops here and Takiyuddin must honour and accept this decision. His stand on this issue is, therefore, puzzling!

It looks like Pas is going to organize road shows to keep this issue alive. It is politicizing the Federal Court decision in order to mobilize support for the party. It is agitating the Muslims seemingly by stirring the cauldron of hatred and fear.

It further wants to amend the Federal Constitution to empower syariah laws. Is it possible? Pas is aware that it needs two-third votes in Parliament to amend the constitution. Can it muster this number? Definitely not!

Sarawak and Sabah will not support this move; nor will the DAP. Not all Muslims in Amanah and PKR will throw their weight behind Pas. It has no ghostly chance of being carried.

Why then Pas chose to go along this path? It is simple. It wants to keep the Muslims unhappy and angry against the Unity Government in order to do well in the next election. So it will keep the cauldron of hatred boiling.

Pas must remember that it acquired power in Kelantan through the democratic process. Now it must accept that process and honour the court decision.

It must not disrespect the Federal Constitution.

FIrst published at this link on 15 February 2024

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

P Ramakrishnan is the long-serving former president of Aliran who served for three and a half decades on its executive committee and has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977.

Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.

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