The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has virtually called Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department [and currently acting Law Minister] a liar. They condemned him for not checking his facts before making serious and damaging remarks about the circumstances surrounding the death of Everest hero M Moorthy.
Nazri had said that Moorthy failed to inform his family about his conversion to Islam which led to Moorthy’s widow S Kaliammal contesting the Syariah court order declaring her late husband a Muslim.
Nazri also asserted that the controversy had nothing to do with Article 121 (1)(A) of the Federal Constitution which forbids the civil courts from interfering in Islamic matters.
Hindraf chairperson Waytha Moorthy said the true fact [would this be a tautology?] has been that Kaliammal never contested the Syariah court order. He stated
“Her originating summons in the high court was for a declaration that her late husband was at all material time a practicing Hindu and she be given the right to perform the final rites by virtue of her being the lawful wife.”
Conversely, it had been the state Islamic authorities that had exhibited a Syariah court order (with no respondents named), and with that, averred that the civil courts had no jurisdiction to her application.
Waytha said “We view the statement by the minister that the deceased did not inform his family as a blatant lie with the intention of misleading the public.”
Waytha also condemned the minister’s statement (in Berita Harian) saying that the government had instructed the AG Chambers to provide proposals to ‘extend invitation’ to non-Muslims to appear in Syariah courts to testify in issues concerning them.
The reason for his condemnation?
Waytha explained: “We view this indication seriously and strongly oppose any form of amendment compelling non-Muslims to appear in Syariah courts. It is the fundamental right of non-Muslims to seek redress in civil courts and when it involves conflicts with Muslims, then civil courts should be the only forum.”
He said that non-Muslims must never be subjected to ‘alien jurisdictions’. And I would dare say that most, if not all, non-Muslim Malaysians would fully agree with him.
Having said that as a non-Muslim [and non-anything] I personally agree with Minister Nazri that Article 121 (1)(A) was not the real culprit but a convenient scapegoat used by the civil court judge. The reason for the appeal court judge in referring to Article 121 (1)(A) as a hands-off situation for the civil court in the Moorthy case had already been condemned as an act of abdicating judicial responsibility by the very man who designed that Article, former AG and today's SUHAKAM Chairman, Abu Talib Othman. See my posting on SUHAKAM Chairman: "Civil Court Judges Lack Balls"
In other words, the appellate court judge lacked the backbone to exercise his rightful authority judgement because we may assume he was sh*t scared of anything to do with Islamic issues. Malik Tabiaz, a Malaysian human rights lawyer stated that cross-religion cases like Moorthy's case ocurred on a regular basis, where civil judges nowadays avoided or even rejected them the moment they catched a whiff of Islamic issue in them.
Please read my posting on Article 121(1)(A) - What terrified the Civil Courts! to learn that said Article was meant to prevent Muslims leaving the religion rather than fight over dead bodies in an iffy case like Moorthy’s, where the man's religious affiliation was still uncertain.
The whole tragedy [for Moorthy’s wife] had been the appellate court judge refusing to rule whether the late Moorthy had been a Muslim or Hindu. If he had ruled Moorthy as a Muslim, then and only then, would Article 121 (1)(A) kicked in, but certainly not before he made the verdict.
We all know what the appellate court judge did. He basically avoided pronouncing anything and surrendered his judicial authority to the Syariah court. Apparently we heard he was busy on his knees looking for some marbles that fell down somewhere under the bench.
And in all fairness to the Syariah court, it hadn’t then demanded that it had sole responsibility. It only ruled on the Moorthy case after the total capitulation of the civil court.
(1) PAS, non-Muslim Ministers & UMNO - an Article 121(1)(A) Ménage à Trois
(2) PAS took a leaf out of UMNO's book
(3) Cowboy politicians vs Cowardly politicians!