PM to chair meeting on syariah


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 14 Jan 2003

BY MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad will chair a special meeting of the National Islamic Affairs Council meeting today. 

The meeting, to be attended by chief ministers and mentris besar, was called in view of recent developments on the need to streamline the syariah system in the country.  

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is also expected to attend. 

Sources said Dr Mahathir would meet the chief ministers and mentris besar in the morning before chairing the special meeting later in the day. 

“I think there is a sense of urgency on the part of the Government to standardise the laws as syariah laws are a state matter.  

“If states continue to enact their own laws, there will be problems,” said a source. 

Abdullah gave an assurance over the weekend that the Government would take immediate action on the proposal to standardise the laws so that Muslims would not be victims due to lack of uniformity of syariah laws among the states. 

His comments came in the wake of recent developments, including the polygamy issue and custody of a five-year-old girl in Terengganu. 

The Perlis Government caused an uproar when it said it was relaxing the laws on polygamy to discourage Malaysian men from crossing over to Thailand to remarry. 

The Women and Family Development Ministry and several women’s groups criticised the move, particularly on a stipulation that husbands need not get the consent of their first wife to remarry. 

The case of Siti Fauziah Rahman, who was awarded temporary custody of her five-year-old daughter by the Kuala Terengganu Syariah Court only to lose her when the Kedah Syariah Court placed the child under the custody of her former husband, has been highlighted by a Malay paper. 

Dr Mahathir has called for a stop to public statements regarding the polygamy issue as he felt it would only fan the controversy.  

He said a comprehensive study must be carried out on the various aspects of the issue. 

“We need to discuss this matter thoroughly with those who specialise in religion and the law,” he was quoted as saying last week. 

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