PETALING JAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been told to respect the country’s judicial process instead of making critical remarks against the Court of Appeal’s decision on the naming of Muslim children born out of wedlock.
PKR central committee member Latheefa Koya said the courts should be allowed to decide on the matter impartially on the basis of the law and the Federal Constitution, without unnecessary positions being taken by government leaders on the issue.
“I have never come across a case of an instance of a deputy PM showing such gross disrespect to the judicial process,” she said.
“It is clear Zahid is trying to make political capital out of this case, with the general elections around the corner. It is most unfair as this involves the lives and future of innocent children,” she said in a statement today.
Zahid, who is home minister, was quoted by Bernama as telling a gathering last night that Muslims should be united to ensure any decision made by the National Fatwa Council is not challenged by any parties or other legal system.
“We are not against other religions, but matters pertaining to Islam should not be touched on. Let Muslims manage the affairs of their religion,” he said.
He said the ministry, especially the National Registration Department (NRD), should adhere to the decision of the National Fatwa Council to require Muslim children whose parents are not married to be given the surname “bin Abdullah”.
On July 27, the Court of Appeal explained that the NRD had acted outside its powers when it used the surname “Abdullah” to register a Muslim child born out of wedlock, against a mother’s wish to use the father’s name.
“It was a decision made by the Court of Appeal in the proper exercise of its judicial powers,” Latheefa said.
“The NRD and home ministry have a right to appeal the decision if they are dissatisfied. But meanwhile, the NRD and Zahid must respect the decision and do the necessary to comply with it.”
“Instead, Zahid is resorting to making inflammatory and sensational statements about the decision,” she added.
Latheefa also said the decision is legally binding on the NRD and the government, until and unless it is set aside by the Federal Court.
She said Zahid should know that the NRD is appealing, and claimed that his statement had the effect of putting undue pressure on the Federal Court.
The Court of Appeal’s written judgment delivered on July 27, two months after it ruled in favour of the parents of the child, had also questioned the practice of adding the surname “bin Abdullah” to such children.
“We believe Islam does not condone such open and public humiliation of an innocent child,” wrote Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli, one of the three members of the bench.
On Thursday, NRD director-general Yazid Ramli said the department will file an appeal with the Federal Court through the Attorney-General’s Chambers.