Malaysian cabinet members have equal status, says ex-judge

gopal-sri-ram-politician-cabinet-malaysia-abdul-hadi-awang-1PETALING JAYA: All cabinet members under the Federal Constitution have equal status and to deny this is an unlawful attempt to overthrow the supreme law of the land, a retired judge said.

Gopal Sri Ram said any statement that this be done was also seditious.

The retired Federal Court judge said this in response to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s opinion piece published by the party’s mouthpiece Harakahdaily on Dec 22 in which he said non-Muslims under an Islamic administration could still become cabinet members but with limited powers.

Quoting from the 11th century scholar Al-Mawardi, Hadi wrote that non-Muslims could still play a role in governance, but only in management duties, not in policy making.

“In politics, Islam makes it compulsory that its main leadership in charge of policies and concepts must be from among Muslims, and accepts non-Muslims to execute their expertise and play a management role, not in matters of policies and concepts. As such, Islam, through elections, accepts positions filled by non-Muslims or a technocracy,” Hadi had said.

Hadi’s hardline stand has invited rebuke from, among others, Rais Hussin, who heads PPBM’s policy and strategy bureau and Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

Sri Ram said Malaysia had a written constitution modelled along Westminster lines.

“Under our constitution, members of the cabinet are equal and have collective responsibility, which includes policy making,” he added.

Accordingly, Sri Ram said an attempt to cut across the constitution would be illegal and would amount to an overthrow of the supreme law of the land by unlawful means.

“Any statement that suggest this be done is seditious and it is up to the authorities to act,” he added.

Sri Ram said Hadi should be reminded that “we are living in the 21st century”.

“He is most welcome to live in the 11th century or an earlier century,” he added.