Friday, May 25, 2007

Fair Justice for Lina Soon!

Lina Joy to know fate next Wednesday

Soon Li Tsin

May 25, 07 6:02pm

Ten months after the final arguments were submitted in the Federal Court, the much-anticipated decision on the Lina Joy case will be revealed on May 30.

Contacted by malaysiakini today, Joy’s solicitor Benjamin Dawson confirmed next Wednesday as the date for the judgment which has deep impact relating to religious freedom in Malaysia. The time is set for 9.30am.

Joy, 43, whose Muslim name was Azlina Jailani, converted to Christianity in 1998 and is married to a Christian.

She had successfully applied in 1998 to change her name but the National Registration Department granted a card with her new name a year later but refused to remove her religion, stated as Islam, saying it needed permission from a syariah court.

Her attempt to quash and overturn this administrative decision at the High Court failed when the court on April 18, 2001 ruled that she could not renounce Islam and the issue should be decided by the Syariah Court.

She then took the matter to the Court of Appeal which upheld the lower court’s decision in a majority 2-1 decision.

Three key issues

The case then went to the Federal Court where justices Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim - who is also chief justice - Alauddin Sheriff and Richard Malanjum ruled that the case would be decided on three main issues.

The issues are:

* If the NRD is legally entitled to impose as a requirement a certificate or a declaration or an order from the Syariah Court before deleting the entry of ‘Islam’ from the applicant's (Joy’s) identity card;

* If the NRD has correctly construed its powers under the National Registration Regulations 1990 to impose the above requirement when it is not expressly provided for in the regulations and;

* Whether the landmark case, Soon Singh vs Perkim Kedah - which declared that the civil courts will retain their jurisdiction unless an expressed jurisdiction is conferred to Syariah Court - was rightly decided.

Arguments raised by both parties in the Federal Court covered Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, procedural matters, universal rights, women’s rights and Islamic law.

The landmark judgment is going to set precedent which would affect cases such as S Shamala and R Subashini which are both still undergoing trial.

Both cases concern the issue of jurisdiction - whether civil or syariah courts is more authoritative when one spouse converts to Islam - to be addressed.

After eight long years, Joy will know whether she has the right to remove 'Islam' from her identity card.


Anonymous said...

Malaysian democracy and constitution will be put to the test. Some of our laws (especially state laws) contraindicate the constitution stating Freedom of Religion. In the case of one spouse converting, i believe wholly that it should be the decision of the Civil Court as Syariah Court is a religion based court and hence it is biased.

Hopefully the judges would have biased views due to their own self belief.

Anonymous said...

I apologise for my typing mistakes:

"Hopefully the judges would ""NOT"" have biased views due to their own self belief."

Anonymous said...

I tell you what, chaps: Malaysian judges will always be biased. Trust me, the outcome is so predictable and you know what, chaps, the Muslim judges will be blind to human suffering and humanity in general, focusing more on the selfish narrow-mindedness of Islam and they will also kow-tow to the hot-headed few Islamic zealots in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

I think the case is so important and significant because Islam is such a stumbling block to inter-mixing of races. The religion forbids this and that unlike other religions in the country so how can a true Malaysian identity be forged? Singapore is the best classic example of how it could work-Malays can choose any religion they want without fear or ostracism from its progressive muslim community.

Anonymous said...

The fact that such an issue as religion has to be discussed with the pseudonym 'anonymous' shows the backward political maturity of Malaysians. How is such a country going to be a fully developed nation in 2020, merely 13 years away, when healthy discussions are whispered in backrooms and dark places???

I will blame a lot on the politicians, the government and also the justice system for the climate of discrimination, fear, injustice and suffering.