Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.

This article demonstrates how the current view that only the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to rule on the status on those who had renounced Islam began with a misreading of a minority view in an earlier Supreme Court’s judgment in Dalip Kaur and treating it as setting a binding precedent. The non-binding minority view subsequently turned into ratio decidendi when the Federal Court in Soon Singh case approved the High Court’s judgment which ‘followed’ the minority view instead of the ratio of the majority judgment in Dalip Kaur.

Confusion between ratio decidendi (“the reason for the decision” which has legal binding effect) and orbiter dictum (“an incidental, by the way statement” which has only persuasive value) also arose in cases relating to religious freedom in Malaysia.

I refer readers to the careful analysis by Kuek Chee Ying & Tay Eng Siang in “When Orbiter Dictum and Minority View Become Ratio Decidendi” published in the Malayan Law Journal (2015) volume 3, pages lxxxii-xcvi Continue reading “Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.”

Be Assured that Syariah Law WILL be Imposed on non-Muslims

PAS politicians and some UMNO government officials repeatedly assure non-Muslims that that Syariah law will not be applied to them even as Abdul Hadi Awang tables the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016 to widen the scope of the criminal jurisdiction of Syariah Courts. However, non-Muslims have reasons to doubt whether the assurance is empty, if not disingenuous, when the authorities in Kelantan and officials in various government departments repeatedly impose public policies that infringe on the fundamental liberties of non-Muslims. It is the duty of every conscientious Member of Parliament to reject any proposed legislation that violates the provisions in the Federal Constitution that protect the rights of non-Muslims and Muslims against punitive criminal actions based on religious precepts.

Beware when the wolf ‘courteously’ invites the lamb for supper in his den when it is seen sharpening its claws and teeth.

To read the full article, visit a new post at Religious Liberty Watch: Be Assured Syariah Law WILL be Imposed on non-Muslims


Malaysian Bar: Supremacy of Federal Constitution and Syariah Court Enactments (2016) June 8, 2016

Malaysian Bar Press Release | Preserve, Respect and Uphold the Supremacy of the Federal Constitution
8 June 2016

The Malaysian Bar is extremely concerned over recent attempts by certain parties to ignore or reject entrenched principles in our supreme law, namely the Federal Constitution.[1]

It was reported that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dato’ Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (“Minister”) said that “the laws to ban unilateral conversion contravenes [sic] Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution which states the religion of a minor under the age of 18 can be determined by their respective mother or father”.[2]

The Minister’s remarks are erroneous.  Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution provides: “For the purposes of Clause (3), the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian” (emphasis added).[3]  Article 12(4) must be read with the interpretation provisions in the Federal Constitution — Article 160 and the Eleventh Schedule — that provide that all words in the singular also include the plural. Hence, the religion of children under the age of 18 is to be decided by both parents, where both parents are alive. Continue reading “Malaysian Bar: Supremacy of Federal Constitution and Syariah Court Enactments (2016) June 8, 2016”


Henceforth, the new Hudud Bill or the “Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016” that is tabled in Parliament should be called UMNO-PAS Hudud Bill. After all, without special assistance from UMNO, the Bill that was tabled by PAS (Hadi) would not get a chance to be debated in Parliament. If passed, the Bill will place the Federal Constitution on a slippery slide leading to a Shariah dominated Constitution. Malaysia will go the way of Pakistan where religious minorities (Christians) are often subject to false accusations and punishment under the Islamic Blasphemy Law. Nearer home, we should be alarmed at the prospect of non-Muslims being caned for  ‘violating’ Islamic offences: Re: “Woman, 60, Caned for Selling Alcohol in Aceh” StraitsTimes (14 April 2016); See Also “For First Time in Indonesia, non-Muslim Caned under Islamic law” LosAngelesTimes (16 April 2016).

Perhaps, it would be good to refresh our understanding of the Kelantan Hudud Law: LINK

In the face of this present danger, Non-Muslims (especially East Malaysians) must go beyond a adopting poster of resignation and quiet skepticism toward the hollow assurance from the Prime Minister. They must call upon their Members of Parliament and insist that their MPs vote against the UMNO-PAS Hudud Bill.

To read and comment on the full post, please visit my other blog, Religious Liberty Watch: MCCBCHST: WE REJECT THE PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL ON HUDUD LINK

Call for Rational Debate of Hudud and Implementation of Syariah Compliant Govenment Policies on Non-Muslims

It is encouraging to find Malaysians across the race-and-religion divide coming together to call for rational debate on hudud and the related Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (1993), and affirming that:

– As all Malaysians, Muslims or non-Muslims, Kelantanese or non-Kelantanese, are rightful stakeholders in the enforcement of KSCC, no one should be penalised, threatened or ridiculed for having or expressing any opinion on the matter.

– The success of Islamic banking in winning over the hearts and minds of non-Muslims through rigour and proven benefits, rather than a deceiving assurance of non-Muslim exclusion or a sloppy “trial-and-error” attitude, should be an inspiring example.

– The implementation of KSCC must not be decided on a winner-takes-all manner, such as a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat, for this will risk tearing the country apart.

– The inclusive spirit of the Federal Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, which lay down the secular basis of the Federation of Malaysia, must be upheld.

First, the provisions of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code is so evidently ultra vires the Federal Constitution that there is a prima facie case to reject it out of hand. It is agreed that the call for rational dialogue should not be restricted to debating whether one should support or oppose hudud. It is a call to all Malaysians to respect the provision related to the status of Islam and other religions in the Federal Constitution which is premised on a secular framework. Put concretely, the starting point for dialogue should be the original intent of the Federal Constitution as a secular-state where there is no establishment of religion, or  provision for a dominating position for Islam. In this regard hudud or any Islamic law should not be part of our legal system, except in matters of personal law specifically enumerated in the Constitution. See related post: Malaysia Social Contract (Part 1): Religion and Equal Citizenship and Historic Documents on the drafting of the Constitution.

Second, the rational debate should publicly call into question not only the overt hudud agenda of the Kelantan government, but also the arguably, clandestine introduction of syariah compliant provisions in various State enactments in UMNO dominated State Legislative Assemblies (Dewan Undangan Negeri), and imposition of syariah compliant policies in the government departments affecting non-Muslims. Hudud naturally elicits strong and vocal opposition from all reasonable Malaysians as its implementation is an obvious and undeniable act of injustice against non-Muslims. In contrast, the introduction of syariah compliant laws and departmental policies are subtly and incrementally implemented so that non-Muslims remain unaware of the gradual erosion of their fundamental liberties.

In either case, the inclusive spirit and universal justice enshrined in the Federal Constitution would be shattered by the fatal blow of hudud, or gradually extinguished by the covertly introduced syariah compliant laws of the State Legislative Assemblies and government department policies. Continue reading “Call for Rational Debate of Hudud and Implementation of Syariah Compliant Govenment Policies on Non-Muslims”

Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Court Judgments. Part 2/2

Part 2/2: Implications for Freedom of Religion arising from the Catholic Herald Court Judgments

The Federal Constitution provision for freedom of religion has been undermined when the higher courts ruled that the ‘sanctity of Islam’ defines and limits freedom to practice other religions. Surely this unconstitutional restriction also applies to all other fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution since fundamental liberties are an inseparable whole, like a ‘seamless cloth’.

Preview of Conclusion
As a result of the decision by the Court of Appeal in the Catholic Herald, the law as it currently stands appears to be that the term ‘Allah’ should not be used by any non-Muslim group in Malaysia as it is not an essential and integral part of the religion. Article 11 only protects what is mandatory in a religion which according to the CA’s interpretation is a severely restricted freedom. Article 11 has to be read with article 3 which was inserted to protect the sanctity and supremacy of Islam. This means that other religions can be practiced in peace and harmony throughout the Federation as long as it does not affect the sanctity of Islam.

Read the attached document “Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Judgments” for a careful and insightful analysis of these disturbing developments:

pdf Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Continue reading “Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Court Judgments. Part 2/2”

Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Court Judgments. Part 1/2


Part 1/2: Backdoor Islamization of Malaysian Laws – State Islamic Enactments Silently Rewrite the Federal Constitution via Illegitimate Use of the Penal Code.

Related Post: Part 2/2: Implications for Freedom of Religion arising from the Catholic Herald Court Judgments

The recent judgments by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court failed to clarify and delimit the bounds of authority of the State Islamic Authorities in relation to non-Muslims. The result is an ongoing process of silent rewriting of the Federal Constitution that violates the fundamental liberties of all citizens enshrined in the Federal Constitution. The failure of the higher Courts to address and arrest the backdoor Islamization of the legal system can only result in ascendency and final supremacy of Syariah law for the country.

Read the attached document “Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Judgments” for a careful and insightful analysis of these disturbing developments:

pdfFreedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald


Highlights from Document Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Court Judgments Continue reading “Freedom of Religion after the Catholic Herald Court Judgments. Part 1/2”

Kota Kinabalu Declaration 2014 on Malaysia Day

An important declaration calling the Federal government to honor the Malaysia Agreement (1963) and implement just governance that gives due recognition and respect for the rights of citizens of Sabah and Sarawak.


7 AND WHEREAS the proliferation of oppressive laws that violates our fundamental civil liberties continues unabated, the legislative, executive and the judiciary must take urgent measures to remove such offensive laws and selective prosecutions and to restore just, fair, and democratic principles of governance as envisaged by the framers of our Constitution and our founding fathers.

12 AND WHEREAS Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practised and people of other faiths shall have the constitutional right and freedom to profess, practise, propagate, and manage their respective faiths without interference and intervention by the State. 13 AND WHEREAS the Constitution provides for laws to be enacted for the administration of Islam, such laws shall not be applied to non-Muslims nor non-Muslims be subject to Shariah law.

14 AND WHEREAS freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and set out in the first of the 18 and 20-point conditions of Sarawak and Sabah respectively to be part of the Malaysia Agreement, but the legislative, executive and judiciary have persistently and wilfully trampled upon such rights of people of other faiths by making laws and decisions that militate against such freedom. The prohibition of the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by Bumiputera Christians to refer to the one true God and the restricted ban on the use of the Alkitab, the Malay language Bible, since the early 1980s are instances of gross violations of human rights.

19 AND WHEREAS there are extremist dakwah elements who undertake aggressive Islamisation by both covert and overt means to convert Bumiputera Christians through intimidation, deception, or inducements particularly targeting remote and poor villagers as well as conversions of school children living in government hostels. The National Registration Department despite its denials are also classifying native Christians with ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ in their names as Muslims in their MyKad without their knowledge or consent. Such unlawful and oppressive practices must stop immediately. Continue reading “Kota Kinabalu Declaration 2014 on Malaysia Day”