Many people seem to forget that Malaysia has syariah laws in place in every state. I say “forget” because every time the relevant syariah enforcement officers act according to the Syariah enactments in the respective states, quite a number of people raise an alarm and cry “That cannot be done!” But the officers are only acting within the powers given to them by the respective syariah enactments.
Whenever the syariah courts sentence someone according to the provisions of the respective State Syariah laws, even more people protest and start saying that cannot be done. But the syariah courts are only exercising the powers given to them by the respective syariah enactments.
When Hishamuddin Hussein Onn announced that 3 women were caned, some quarters raised an alarm. When Kartika voluntarily subjected herself to the existing syariah law and the presiding Judge sentenced her according to the existing syariah law, many protested.
If it was just the ordinary citizen, then it is understandable. They do not what laws has been passed as “syariah” and when.
What is mind boggling is that the sounds of protest come from those who are in the government, even Minister. It is ironical that Ministers do know or forget that there are Syriah laws in place.
I was shocked long time ago when Tun Dr Mahathir, being Prime Minster then voiced his displeasure when three girls who took part in a beauty pageant was arrested. What? He is the Prime Minister. Why didn’t he start a reform of the syariah laws if he felt strongly about it? He didn’t, therefore it must mean that the Barisan Nasional Government is very happy with the existing syariah laws.
Let me point out some basic facts:
1. Every State has its own Syariah Laws – meaning one offence in one state may not be an offence in another state. Punishments for the same offence may be different.
2. These Syariah laws are passed by the State Assembly of each State – that means the credit for all these laws must go to the Barisan Nasional State Assemblymen because they were mostly in power since merdeka until now.
3. Each ruler of each state is the head of the religion of Islam in the respective State and they must give their assent to the laws passed.
4. Each ruler has advisers on Islam who advise them.
5. Non-Muslims are not subjected to these laws. Muslims, therefore are privileged to be subjected to two laws – the “civil law” and the “syariah laws”.
6. Generally, the Syariah laws regulate how the Muslims in this country must practice their religion. If you are a Muslim citizen, you are bound by it.
I have spoken about the impact, legality, content and importance of the Syariah laws to various MPs, including Ministers over the past 10 years. The impression that I was left with is: they do not understand the true impact of it in the long run. In fact, they do not really want to know as they have the mindset (seems to me), that it is best left to the “experts”. They “fear to touch the subject”. Politics again.
I do not know whether the time will come when concerned Muslims who take their belief seriously will also want to take active part in evaluating the syariah laws to determine if it is consistent with the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. After all, Muslims believe that each of us will be solely responsible for our own deeds in the hereafter.
In the meantime, Barisan Nasional MPs and State Assemblymen should not complain about the implementation of the syariah laws that they helped to pass and exist.