Stop wasting time discussing Constitutional amendments, says Zaid

PETALING JAYA: Following the Federal Court’s ruling on the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code, discussions on the necessity of amending the Constitution have raised questions about its practical implications, says former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

He said there is a push within the reformist Parliament for further amendments, with the Umno Youth Chief, Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh, advocating for parity between syariah law and civil law, although the details remain unclear.

Zaid claimed that PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man is also anxious about the amendment.

"He probably wants the general laws of the land to be Islamic law and not limited to personal laws.

"He also wants the court to be precluded from having powers to decide on the legality of what he calls Islamic laws," he said in a post on X (previously known as Twitter).

Zaid said that others want an amendment allowing states to legislate criminal laws.

"This means both Parliament and the state assemblies have the power to pass criminal laws.

"At present, only Parliament can do that," he added.

Zaid also raised concerns about some Muslim leaders suggesting inter-party meetings exclusively for Muslim MPs to deliberate on these Constitutional amendments.

"Since when is a serious matter like a Constitutional amendment the business of Muslim MPs only?

"Didn't they understand the Chief Justice's explicit remarks that the case was not about God's laws but the legality of man-made laws passed by the Kelantan state assembly?

"I suspect it's the cumulative effect of a poor education system that caused the inability of some to comprehend what the case was all about," he said.

Zaid said the MPs gathering must be clear about what they want.

"If they wish for Islamic Law to be the 'general law' of the land, then the Constitution has to be explicit about this. This means that all Malaysians will be governed by Islamic law.

"If you want Islamic law to only apply to Muslims, then juridically, the country has to be divided in half.

"The equality provision in the Constitution will have to be deleted, for we can't be equal as we will be treated differently," he explained.

Zaid said the country would need two separate constitutions, two police forces, and two court systems on a larger scale.

"If our Muslim MPs are willing to accept the Nik Elin (Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid) case as a result of a mistake by overzealous politicians in Kelantan, supported by some legal advisors, then they should not waste time talking about amending the Constitution.

"Instead, they should congregate around our Economy Minister and ask him when the Ringgit will be stable, and our car prices will be cheaper, as he has repeatedly promised.

"There are so many other things our MPs can do," he said.

On Feb 9, the apex court ruled that 16 provisions of the Kelantan Syariah state law were unconstitutional after an 8-1 majority decision.

The Federal Court made the ruling after allowing a petition filed by lawyer Nik Elin Zurina and her daughter, Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman, to challenge the constitutionality and legality of 18 provisions of offences under the enactment.

Among the provisions declared null and void were: destroying or defiling a place of worship (Section 11); sodomy (Section 14); sexual harassment (Section 31); possessing false documents, giving false evidence, information or statement (Section 34); gambling (Section 37); and incest (Section 47).

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