PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has challenged Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah to explain her allegation that the shariah legal system discriminates against women.
“If the MP is talking about shariah enactments or acts, she should tell the public which are the provisions that are discriminatory,” said Hamid Ismail, who practises as a criminal and shariah lawyer.
He said Maria could use her position as an MP to ask Parliament to repeal or amend the allegedly discriminatory provisions if she could identify them.
He accused her of making generalised and baseless statements against the shariah legal system.
“I think that is very unfair,” he said, adding that she could be perceived as trying to degrade the system.
Maria said last Thursday that she was disappointed with the Kuala Lumpur Shariah Court’s decision to impose a seven-day jail sentence on Emilia Hanafi, the former wife of Naza World Group chairman SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin.
Emilia and Faisal divorced in 2016 and she has full custody of their three children. The court on Wednesday found her guilty of violating its ruling on visitation rights.
Marina noted that Emilia had rescheduled a visitation and had asked for a replacement date. She said the sentencing highlighted “the discrimination in our shariah legal system against Muslim women that still exists today”.
Faisal is set to take contempt proceedings against her for allegedly insulting the shariah court.
Hamid said the jail sentence should be respected because a shariah court was bound by provisions of the law when deciding on a case.
He said that Maria should be helping Emilia to appeal against the sentence if she was concerned by it.
He noted that her statement also made reference to cases of divorced fathers who did not pay for child support. He asked her to explain which shariah provision she was complaining against.
“I hope the MP can differentiate between an order of a shariah court and provisions in shariah enactments or acts,” he said.
According to another shariah lawyer, Nizam Bashir, some shariah judges believe a high degree of temperateness in the use of language is required when a person criticises court judgments.
A criticism failing to meet this standard could amount to contempt, he said.
“Nevertheless, given the peculiar nuances within the shariah legal system as compared to civil legal systems – nuances which parties may reasonably be ignorant about – perhaps allowances can be made for Maria,” he added.