01 June, 2007

Islam not above constitution

Islam is not above the Federal Constitution, and the decision by the Federal Court on Lina Joy's appeal was not politically motivated.

- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

I really dunwanna blog about it anymore.I mean… what’s the point? Nasi sudah jadi bubor.

There’s certainly no joy.

The Federal Court has reaffirmed that the civil court had no jurisdiction over any Islamic matters, even when non-Muslims are involved.

Wednesday's verdict does not end the Muslim, non-Muslim divide, but may cause it to worsen as the tussle for primacy between inherited secular guarantees and a resurgent Islam demanding pre-eminence for Shariah laws continues, said observers.

Two decisions on the same day on Wednesday have delivered huge blows to liberal, plural democracy in Thailand and Malaysia, two relatively prospering and open Southeast Asian societies, reports International Herald Tribune .

Both decisions have been given the appearance of being judicial, but both are highly political and represent efforts by entrenched interests to maintain political control.

The dissolution of Thai Rak Thai, the party of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed as prime minister of Thailand by a coup last September, has caught more headlines. But given the volatility of Thai politics, this may prove less enduring than a decision in Malaysia to deny a woman the right to convert from Islam to another religion.

Meanwhile in Thailand, the decision by a constitutional tribunal to dissolve Thai Rak Thai - but not its main opponent, the Democrat Party - has scant basis in constitutionalism.

The tribunal is a creature of the Council for National Security, which staged the coup last years, abrogating the existing Constitution, which had its own Constitutional Court.

Thaksin without doubt abused his power and was more adept than anyone at Thai money politics. His attempt at populist authoritarianism certainly needed reining in.

But the coalition of military, royalists, senior bureaucrats and some self-proclaimed democrats are not merely attempting to prevent Thaksin's return to power via the ballot box.

They have produced a draft new constitution that limits the power of the executive and expands the role of non-elected senators and judiciary officials at the expense of elected members.

Today's self-appointed rulers have even toyed with the idea of making Buddhism the official religion, which would be bound to upset the Muslims and other minorities. So-called democratic elections are due to be held once the new constitution has been ratified.

The combination of the new constitution and the tribunal's banishment from politics for five years of the top 111 officials of Thai Rak Thai make it extremely unlikely that political stability will be achieved.

The wounds that the monarchy claims to be trying to heal look likely to become deeper unless Thaksin himself decides to retire from the fray, opening the way for the return of some of the money-driven politicians from an earlier era to challenge the Democrat party, now the only significant player in electoral politics.

But it is just as likely that he will be a power for now behind the scene of a new party, and he and his many supporters, particularly among the poor, will harbor the resentment that he has been shut out by an elite and royalist camp anxious to keep power from populist hands.

The themes of Thai politics since the absolute monarchy was overthrown in 1932 - liberal democracy, populist or military authoritarianism and royalism - look likely to be exacerbated, and that at a time when the issue of succession to King Bhumipol, who is 79, is on the minds of many..
read more from IHT here.

Read also Catastrophic, depressing implications of Joy decision. A letter written by
Umran Kadir published in Malaysiakini.

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Blogger J.T. said...

"Islam is not above the Federal Constitution, and the decision by the Federal Court on Lina Joy's appeal was not politically motivated."
- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Yet, it feels like it. Am I wrong in having that view?
For whatever reasons, motivated or otherwise, a decision has been made. The gavel has come down.
Some rejoice, some walk away with disgust.
At the end of the day, no one will own Lina Joy's heart and soul. That is between God and her.

June 02, 2007 12:37 AM  

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