I applaud the Prime Minister’s recent decision to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (“LRA”).
Being a practising lawyer and involved in several related cases I believe it is also high time for the federal government to reconsider into other significant changes such as amendment to Article 121 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
Previously in 1988 the material part of clause (1) of Article 121 provided that: “… the judicial power of the Federation shall be vested in” the High Court. After 1988, Article 121(1) said that the High Court “shall have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred by or under federal law”.
That is to say, before 1988 the courts derived their powers from the Constitution but now from the Parliament.
“In addition to the amendment of the LRA, I think it is also necessary to amend Article 121(1A) as one may still argue that the supreme law takes precedent over the LRA. Otherwise it may lead to another controversial legal dispute after the proposed LRA amendment” Andy emphasised.
The 121(1A) amendement also occurred in 1998 where the powers and jurisdiction of the Syariah courts have been expanded beyond the limits permitted by the Constitution.
Since then Syariah courts gave orders against non-Muslims such as dissolving the civil marriages registered under civil law when only one spouse converted to Islam, and converted infant children to Islam without the knowledge of the non-Muslim parent such as Subashini and Indira Ghandi’s cases.
With the above amendments, it will reflect a truly separation of powers that the Parliament, the executive and the courts each have their distinct and largely exclusive domain. Parliament has a legally unchallengeable right to make whatever laws it thinks right. The executive carries on the administration of the country in accordance with the powers conferred on it by law.
The courts with a clear jurisdiction can then interpret the laws and see that they are obeyed such as only civil court to decide matters relating to civil marriages.
A person need not resort to doing something extreme in order to exhibit his or her love for the nation, said Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong.
More so, he said, Malaysians should refrain from casting a negative impression or criticise their country in foreign lands.
‘It is proven that the Japanese or mainland Chinese would rarely or never talk bad about their governments outside their countries even if they disliked them,” he added.
Yong was responding to Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah who urged all Malaysians do their part with regard to an upcoming rally organised by the electoral watchdog.
Apart from urging GlobalBersih to act as well, she described the rally as a clarion call for all those who love Malaysia.
However, Yong said several political parties and NGO groups had often routed the anger and frustrations of the common people by promoting radical expressions of nationalistic ideas to shift the focus of the masses for their long term personal gains.
“As we are celebrating national day this month, demonstrations and rallies that will result in violence cannot represent the love for one’s nation.
“I think truly loving our nation means being patriotic by accomplishing our duties as Malaysians and bringing people together for the common good.
“We must be considerate of the privacy of others and obey the laws of the land,” he added.
For this to happen, Yong said political instability should end.
“I think federal or state governments and political parties should be both ready and eager to solve problems with devotion and focus,” he added.
Andy Yong: Government and Bar Council should hold dialogue on proposed amendments to LPA 1976
Gerakan Andy Yong has voiced his support for Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Azalina Othman who warned against foreign parties not to intervene in local affairs after the Australian Bar Association (ABA) and the relevant professional bodies originating in England, Wales as well as Germany denounced the proposed amendments to Malaysia’s Legal Profession Act (LPA) 1976.
Andy Yong echoed Azalina’s statement that foreign parties should refrain from interfering in Malaysia’s legal affairs as it is an intrusion of sovereignty and lack of respect towards Malaysia as a country.
“However, it is imperative that the government takes heed of increasing public concern over the proposed amendments to the LPA 1976, which is seen as unnecessary governmental interference to Malaysian Bar’s affairs affecting the independence of the statutory body. Government should reconsider the proposed amendments to LPA 1976, a serious dialogue session must take place between the Bar Council and the government or Azalina regarding the proposed amendments to LPA 1976 in order to clear the air,” said Andy Yong.
Andy Yong who is a practicing lawyer and member of the Bar Council stressed that it is important that the Bar Council remains independent and more importantly being seen as independent by the people. He was supportive of the only amendment proposed in the Bill in relation to direct election of office bearers at the AGM of the Bar Council and at the State Bar in the spirit of greater transparency and true democracy. He also defended that members of the Bar Council are professional, mature, well-informed which makes the argument of no experience does not carry weight.
Recently many Muslims especially politicians, have expressed intrigue over the brouhaha among non-Muslims arising from the Private Member’s Bill, Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) 2016 tabled by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang at the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday.
These politicians have claimed that the Private Member’s Bill has nothing to do with non-Muslims and so everyone should not making a big fuss over it.
The key concerns here are not about race or religion but about the legal and constitutional aspects of Syariah law.
If PAS’s Private Member’s Bill, Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) 2016 is allowed to be implemented, it will have serious implications on all Malaysians including non-Muslims. It will give rise to the inequality of laws and this is clearly disallowed by the Federal Constitution.
So the Bill that seeks to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court i.e. Act 355 is actually a legislation to allow Hudud to be implemented through the back door.
A classic example – if the victim in a rape case is a non-Muslim and the rapist is a Muslim, which law applies? Vice-versa if the rapist is a Chinese and the victim Muslim, will there be justice?
The same goes for theft or robbery. Do we expect non-Muslim victims to lodge reports at the Islamic Affairs authorities and subsequently be subjected to the Syariah Court if the suspect is a Muslim? The non-Muslim victims cannot lodge reports at the police station as the latter would have no jurisdiction.
Another example is insurance laws that do not recognise hudud. This means that in personal injury claims in a road accident, the non-Muslim insured will not be covered if the other party is a Muslim and sues under the enactment.
Religious conversion, custody issues etc have already caused so much problems in the country