Polygamy issue underscores need for uniform laws

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 09 Jan 2003

THE issue of polygamy continued to dominate the pages of the Malay press, with Utusan Malaysia carrying front-page comments by Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim on the need to streamline the syariah system nationwide. 

It quoted the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department as saying the relevant parties needed to think about ways to convince state governments to reform the syariah system. 

“There should be techniques and tactics to convince them the move is to streamline the implementation of syariah laws, not to take over their existing power,” said Dr Rais, who was commenting on the easing of polygamy laws in Perlis. 

The issue caused a discord between Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. 

Both, however, subsequently agreed that non-uniformity in Islamic family laws was the cause of problems involving polygamy. 

Dr Rais said the reforms could not be carried out mainly because it had been difficult to obtain approval from certain state governments since the Federal Constitution had stipulated that syariah laws were under the jurisdiction of the Rulers of the respective states. 

He said he was willing to provide assistance to Datuk Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin, the Minister in charge of Islamic affairs in the Prime Minister's Department, who could take the appropriate steps to streamline the laws. 

Berita Harian reported that justice in the practice of polygamy is determined by the court, which takes into consideration provisions under the Islamic Family Enactment. 

It quoted National Fatwa Council chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim as saying that the enactment was adequate in ensuring that justice was upheld to protect women and children. 

The newspaper also reported that Umno Youth called on Malaysians to take part in a peace pact to express their views and objections regarding the US threat of war against Iraq. 

Movement head Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said the unfair treatment and hypocrisy practised by the United States in dealing with terrorism would be conveyed to the Non-Aligned Movement summit at the Putra World Trade Centre from Feb 20 to 25. 

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