(Tanjak) – On stage last night for the Syariah Court criminal jurisdiction debate were panelists Aidil Khalid, Lukman Sheriff Alias, S. Ambiga and Haris Ibrahim.
From the floor heckling pro-RUU355 first speaker Aidil was the notorious peroxide blonde lawyer Siti Kasim.
Siti interrupted the proceedings when Aidil quoted the case of Pial Khalida Abdullah whose divorce case was held up six years in the Syariah Court.
The organizers tried to quieten Siti down but got an earful instead and being told off for allegedly “disturbing” her as well as asked by Siti to leave her alone.
A few birds of a feather – call them Siti’s soulmates – among the more than 100 people who attended yesterday’s event held in an arts studio in Petaling Jaya had jeered at the speaker too.
Their unsporting behaviour is indicative of how the anti-establishment crowd are not open-minded enough to consider reasoned arguments put forth from the other side of the political/religious aisle.
Finally debate moderator Azrul Mohd Khalib took control of the situation.
Siti’s own Islam lite concoction
However, the scene created by Siti mid-session was not the last of her two minutes fame that night.
During the Q & A, the controversial (and ‘blonde’) human rights lawyer grabbed the limelight once more; Siti declared that she refused to be subjected to the kind of Islam as how the faith is currently practised in Malaysia.
She claimed that her Islam is loving and compassionate — and not the Islam whose face is represented by the proposed punishments of RUU355.
Siti added she had her own version or understanding of Islam that is not compatible with the amendments suggested by Hadi Awang, and she did not wish to be dragged into the type of Islam as framed by RUU355.
Aidil and Lukman hitting the serious notes
Aidil introduced some background to the issue from legal precedent.
He cited the case of Loh Kooi Choon v Government of Malaysia, quoting the decision delivered by (then) Federal Court judge Raja Azlan Shah to illuminate his argument that the federal constitution must be interpreted while keeping in mind our local context and traditions.
Arguing in favour of the debate motion for RUU355 to be made into law, Aidil pointed out how parts of civil laws in this country were based on Christian morality, and imported into Malaya during the British Raj era via India.
These are colonial shackles, he said, which indirectly impose Christian principles on Malays here whose religion is Islam.
Lukman was on the same page as Aidil, highlighting that the Islamic legal system we have today predates the federal constitution itself and has been applied on Muslims in Malaysia for a very long time.
He reminded listeners that the Syariah Court system must be respected as a constitutional compromise which was agreed upon at the time of Independence.
Lukman also argued that Act 355 and its amendments are not substantive laws, which is understood to be legislation that create offences. Therefore it is incorrect to see the sentencing enhancement proposed by Hadi as hudud.
“Its function is only to increase the sentencing limits and it does not introduce any new offences.
“It is more of a procedural law as opposed to a substantive law. Substantive laws are the state enactments.
“Each of these substantive laws is not done at whims and fancies; it must go through the state legislature,” Lukman said.