Marina Mahathir wrote an exceptional article for her regular column in the Star but alas, the newspaper refused to publish it.
Fortunately for us, The Malaysian Insider has published it as: The column that wasn’t, obviously a jab at The Star for denying the publishing of Marina's latest article in her Star column.
I won’t say much about it here so you need to read it yourself. However I venture to post here some selected extracts of her writing:
… most people are ignorant about their religion and tend to leave these matters to those they believe know best. Thus if the State Mufti or religious adviser says it’s a good law, they are unlikely to challenge him. Thus are religious laws passed unscrutinised.
Until, that is, something happens, such as when someone gets convicted of a syariah crime and punishment is meted out. Who knew that people could get caned for drinking, or for having a baby out of wedlock until the recent cases of Kartika and the three women?
Not only are these laws not debated when they are being made, they can’t be debated afterwards either, unlike civil laws. To do so, according to some people, is akin to arguing with God …
If one believes that syariah laws are superior to civil laws, should they not be held to higher standards? Should they not be subjected to more rigorous debate than civil laws out of fear that they may be unjust? If syariah courts are deemed superior to civil courts, should not their processes be more transparent and efficient? How is it that there are innumerable women having to undergo tremendous suffering because syariah court orders to their divorced husbands to pay child maintenance cannot be enforced?
How is it also that we suddenly hear about women being caned without any information about the processes they went through? Did they have the benefit of legal representation and heard in an open court? If they did, who were their lawyers and what defence did they mount?
Surely the best court of law is one that strives for justice, which shows it is fair to all parties. In this case, on whose behalf was justice served?
I have no problems with syariah laws if their foundation is justice, equality and non-discrimination for all, even non-Muslims. But when their intent, processes and enforcement are unfair, they only give the impression that Islam is unjust and discriminatory. Surely to give such an image of Islam is a sin.
As I mentioned, I won’t comment on the questions she poses. I merely want to put the above extracts in juxtaposition with another article (below), also by The Malaysian Insider titled: Government woos conservative base with canings - extracts follow:
The caning of three women under Islamic law is the latest move by the government to woo conservative Muslims, a risky tactic that could cause a backlash by ethnic minorities and damage economic reforms.
The first ever canings of women in traditionally moderate Malaysia were carried out in February after syariah court sentencing for adultery. Another woman faces caning for drinking beer.
The canings came hot on the heels of a row over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Malay-speaking Christians that triggered attacks on churches and mosques and ahead of another court case this week over Christians’ right to use the word.
PAS officials say Umno’s approach on the canings was a political ploy to win over the 15 per cent of Malays who remain undecided as well as to split PAS from its ethnic Chinese allies.
“The caning issue is just political bait,” said Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, a senior PAS official.
In closing, I beg Marina Mahathir’s permission to quote once again her final sentence in her article, namely: Surely to give such an image of Islam is a sin.