M'sia a democracy not a theocracy, Zaid 'reminds' Umno over apex court ruling

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has reminded Umno that Malaysia is not a theocracy following the party's reaction to the court verdict in the case of Nik Elin Zurina and her daughter against the Kelantan government.

The former law minister said the reactions of Malay politicians, especially Umno, to the case "showed how little they think about the country's future."

ALSO READ: Fed Court rules 16 of the 18 provisions challenged in Kelantan syariah law as unconstitutional

"Before Nik Elin’s case, didn’t these Umno leaders know that since 1957, we are not a theocracy but a civil law country?" he said in a post on X on Sunday (Feb 11).

"That means not every religious law should be in the books; that civil laws are the primary source of laws in governing this country," he added.

On Friday (Feb 9), the Federal Court, in an eight-to-one majority decision, ruled that 16 provisions for offences under the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment (1) 2019 were null and void because the state legislature did not have the power to enact laws on said offences as there were federal laws covering the same matters.

ALSO READ: Do not politicise Federal Court's ruling on Kelantan Syariah code, says Zahid

"The Syariah system is for personal laws, but the general body of laws is not religious laws. They didn’t know? Then they must be sleepwalking," Zaid added.

He said Malay politicians seem unable and unwilling to explain to the people that the choice "is either we are a democracy governed by one set of general laws (civil law) like most countries are, or we are an Afghanistan/Iran-type theocracy."

Zaid pointed out that if Muslim leaders cared about Muslims’ interests, they would make the system more efficient, for example, being more transparent about how the Islamic Council collects and disburses zakat funds.

ALSO READ: Apex court has power to overturn conflicting laws

“When the system breaks down, you will lose more than the non-Muslims. Your economic rights, freedom, education and culture will suffer because you are not free anymore.

“Criminal laws will engulf you because they don’t like your morals. Your life will be different, and Malaysia will be unrecognisable,” he said.

Umno had said it would ask the Federal Government to look into calls for a constitutional amendment to empower the Syariah legal system following the Federal Court ruling.

Its deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said this was to avoid a repeat of issues surrounding the ruling made by the apex court over the Kelantan Syariah criminal enactment.

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