PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has cautioned the government against using religious sentiments to influence the Federal Court in the event that the National Registration Department (NRD) seek to reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision on the naming of Muslim children born out of wedlock.
“Don’t let this be like the Allah case, where the government made it seem as if the world was going to explode” if non-Muslims were allowed to use the Arabic name for God, Zaid said in an interview with FMT.
“Let the court decide according to the law, and we must respect the civil court’s decision.”
The appeal court recently outlawed the NRD’s practice of using “bin Abdullah” or “binti Abdullah” in registering an illegitimate child born to a Muslim mother within six months of her marriage, but the department said last week it would continue with the practice.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, supporting the NRD’s stand, said Muslims should be united to ensure any decision made by the National Fatwa Council was not challenged by any party or another legal system.
The NRD’s practice was based on fatwas issued in 1981 and 2003, but the Births and Deaths Registration Act allows the father of an illegitimate child to have the child carry his name.
Zaid, now a DAP member, said Zahid and the NRD had committed contempt of court with their defiance and had set a bad example for the public.
He called for court action against them. “If we want the people to respect court decisions,” he said, “then the the NRD’s director-general and the minister must do the same. Or else our country will become a Taliban country. In that case, whoever has explosives and guns, then they are the law.”
He said fatwas were just opinions and not laws.
To back his argument, he pointed to the differences of opinion between the Perlis and Perak muftis.
“The Perlis mufti says we can use the biological father’s name,” he noted. “The Perak mufti, on the other hand, says doing so can encourage illicit sex.”
Criticising the Perak mufti’s view, he said: “Those who are about to engage in illicit sex wouldn’t stop to think that if they go ahead with it and end up with an illegitimate child, the child’s name would be followed by bin Abdullah. Hence, such statements have no value.”