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Hindraf wants debate with Hadi on Islamic law and non-Muslims

Hindraf wants debate with Hadi on Islamic law and non-Muslims

 | June 15, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, a human rights NGO, has issued an open invitation to PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang to an open debate on his assertion that “Islamic law does not affect non-Muslims.”

“This is a lie,” said Hindraf Chair P Waythamoorthy in a telephone interview. “We have taken the position that Islamic law does affect non-Muslims. We have every right to speak up as Islamic laws affect our lives directly, not just indirectly.”

“We note that Hadi threatened non-Muslims when he said that they should ‘watch what they do or say about Islam’ and further warned them ‘not to cross the boundaries’.”

Hindraf, he stressed, was also in favour of a Referendum on hudud law. “All citizens can then campaign openly, either for or against it, instead of limiting the debate to politicians.”

“The participation of the people through a Referendum is a must on the hudud issue. This cannot be covered up as a Muslim issue or that it has nothing to do with non-Muslims and/or that it doesn’t affect them. Needless to say, the hudud Bill pending in Parliament must be suspended.”

Waytha, a senior lawyer in private practice, was taking issue with the PAS leader “ventilating his ignorance in public and misleading the people on hudud and related matters, including a claim that the Reid Commission which drafted the Federal Constitution did not include any Muslims.”

The Hindraf Chief who conceded that Hadi was no constitutional subject matter expert, and not even a lawyer, felt however that the PAS leader should be given the benefit of the doubt as a lawmaker and one who has so far projected the image that he knows whatever there was to know about law within the Islamic context and related non-Muslim matters.

Waytha, who agreed that he shouldn’t pre-empt Hadi on the open debate, nevertheless stressed that he wanted to set the record straight on several issues as a matter of public interest and concern.

For starters, he said, it was the Intention of the Founding Fathers in Malaya and Borneo that the Federation in the peninsula and the Federation with the Borneo states should remain secular.

The Conference of Rulers, in their submission to the Reid Commission, very clearly stated that it was their wish that the Federation of Malaya continue to remain secular when it became independent. “Article 3(1) stating that Islam is ‘the religion’ of the Federation cannot be read in isolation from other relevant Articles in the Federal Constitution which define and reiterate the secular nature of the state,” said Waytha. “We don’t have an ‘official’ i.e. government or national religion.”

“The reference to ‘the religion’ is a reference to the majority of the people in the peninsula.”

The status of the Shariah courts, an issue brought up by Hadi in conjunction with his hudud Bill, was a non-issue, argued Waytha. “The status of the Shariah courts was already upgraded through Article 121 (1) (A) in 1988.”

This upgrading, continued the Hindraf chief, has been the cause of various disputes and abuse of the constitutional process by “irresponsible” converts who unlawfully converted their children. “The upgrading has created fear in Muslim judges,” he said. “They shy away from declaring that Shariah courts are in fact, in law, inferior jurisdictions like the Native Court.”

Civil law takes precedence including on conversion matters, said Waytha. “Enough is enough. Hadi and the Judiciary can’t fool non-Muslims on this.”