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‘No constitution can elevate shariah system’

 | July 27, 2016

Bopim's Jambun says those harping on it are playing politics.

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KOTA KINABALU: Human rights advocate Daniel John Jambun has poured cold water on the project to elevate the status of the shariah judicial system, saying it would be impossible under what he calls the “uncodified Malaysian Constitution.”

“The Federal Constitution must not be mistaken for the Malaysian Constitution,” he said in an interview expressing his agreement with a speech made recently by Sabah Council of Churches President Jerry Dusing.

Jambun, who heads the UK-based Bopim (Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation), defined the “uncodified” constitution as one consisting of various documents, including the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63), the Cobbold Commission Report and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report.

He said Parliament had no power to elevate the shariah system to anything above its current status. “It’s the uncodified Malaysian Constitution that decides,” he said. “Under our system, the constitution is supreme over the Malaysian Parliament.

“Shariah cannot also be elevated under the Federal Constitution or any constitution.

“Sin is something between God and man. It should not be brought to court.”

Jambun also said there was no religion in Sabah and Sarawak as per MA63.

Referring to Peninsular Malaysia, he said: “The Federal Constitution holds that Islam is the religion of the federation. This is a reference to the Malayan Federation set up by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948.

“Even so, there’s no official or national religion in Malaya. The Federal Constitution is clear on this by omitting the words ‘official’ and ‘national’.”

He lamented that many people tended to mix up the Federation of Malaya and the Federation of Malaysia. “That’s why PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang said in May that the chief ministers in Sabah and Sarawak must be Muslim,” he said. “Our chief ministers are not like the menteris besar in the sultanates in Malaya.”

Basically, he said, the shariah court system’s jurisdiction was limited to personal and family law and could not have the same status as the civil court system. “The shariah court, like the native court for example, is an inferior court.”

He said those who kept harping on elevating the status of the shariah court to the level of the civil court were just playing politics with the issue. “It will never happen because it can’t happen.”


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