KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today slammed those trying to gain political mileage from the constitutional challenge against several Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code provisions by linking it with his government.
Anwar said the petition by a mother and daughter was filed before he became prime minister, asking why federal ministers from Perikatan Nasional were silent about the case then.
Lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman filed the constitutional challenge at the Federal Court in May 2022. The apex court granted them leave to pursue the matter four months later.
“Who was governing the country then? Who was the prime minister? Why didn’t you (speak up) when you were ministers?
“Some said they weren’t aware (about the case at the time). How can a minister claim ignorance about such a major case?
“I regret that there are attempts to make it seem like (the constitutional challenge) was an action by the current unity government,” Anwar told the Dewan Rakyat during Prime Minister’s Question Time.
Anwar added that Putrajaya had agreed to set up a special committee to “empower and elevate” the shariah courts, with the panel to hold discussions with muftis and others to enhance the courts’ jurisdiction.
“The Conference of Rulers has given its consent to the members of this special committee. The panel will need to hold engagements with the various state Islamic religious councils and state governments before anything is finalised.”
Yesterday, more than 1,000 people, mostly PAS members, gathered at the Palace of Justice to “defend Kelantan’s shariah enactments”.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who served as environment and water minister from 2020 to 2022, said that he previously did not know about the constitutional challenge.
Elin and Yasmin contend that 18 provisions in the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 are invalid as federal laws cover the same offences.
They want the court to declare the provisions null and void, saying the power to legislate criminal matters belongs exclusively to Parliament and that state assemblies can only enact laws related to the Islamic faith.
Yesterday, a nine-member Federal Court panel led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat reserved its ruling on the matter.