Islamic vs civil law: Why now, asks Zaid


PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has criticised the timing of former chief justices in claiming the supremacy of Islamic law over civil law in Malaysia.

In a blogpost today, Zaid singled out Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim, who had both championed Islamic law in the country.

Hamid had said civil law must give way to Islamic law as Malaysia was an Islamic country, while Fairuz said any law in Malaysia that was against Islamic laws’ main sources – the Quran and Sunnah – would be unconstitutional.

Zaid asked why they had chosen to keep quiet on the issue until they had stopped working.

“If they had known all along that their understanding (of the Federal Constitution) was erroneous – that the expression ‘official religion’ was meant to convey the meaning that Malaysia is an Islamic country where all laws must conform to the tenets of Islam – then why did they keep quiet about this until after their retirement?”

And if the former chief justices only recently had their views transformed, Zaid asked what the events were that had led them to “clamour” for Islamic law now.

“Are the justices joining the wave of change initiated by our prime minister, who unveiled his grand plan to make everything in Malaysia shariah-compliant?”

He also hit out at them for keeping mum over injustices committed by those in power.

“What amazes me is how those who are calling for Islamic law and Islamic justice suddenly become silent about the people who are suffering from the grave injustices that this government has committed,” he said.

“Don’t they find anything wrong about the covering up of the theft of billions of ringgit from public coffers?

“Don’t they think that it’s wrong and inhumane for the government to promote an essay-writing contest to depict Lim Kit Siang as racist and anti-Islam?”

Although politicians and “mediocre” civil servants might look to religion to make them appear relevant to the community, Zaid said he hoped lawyers would not be “so gullible as to play the religious card to raise their personal profile”.

“I don’t really care what label we want to put on our laws, but surely they must be capable of carrying out justice.

“If we truly care about justice and are in a position to do something, we must fight for justice here and now.” – FMT

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