KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 ― The Conference of Malay Rulers should decide Malaysia’s Islamic policies while federal agencies should be limited to enforcing these, said a Parti Amanah Negara vice-president.
Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said this would prevent the state rulers from being sidelined as well as the alleged misuse of Islamic affairs agencies like the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) for political reasons.
“We have seen political intervention in agencies like Jakim in the previous administration, for example during the Act 355 issue,” he said, referring to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.
“Supposedly, the Act 355 proposal should have received royal consent before being brought to Parliament. But, until now, I don't think it received consent from the Conference of Rulers,” he was quoted saying by both local daily New Straits Times and its sister publication Berita Harian.
The PAS's controversial proposal to amend Act 355 to provide for harsher Shariah penalties was allowed to be tabled as a Private Member's Bill in Parliament.
The proposal sought to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes, up from the current three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.
“Other institutions were also used to support certain political parties, until without realising it, those actions contravened the powers of the Conference of Rulers,” he was also quoted saying.
According to Berita Harian, there are currently 12 Islamic affairs agencies under the Prime Minister's Department, including Jakim.
Mujahid said his proposal would see the government continue to carry out the daily administrative duties such as agency and financial management, as long as the powers of the Conference of Rulers are not eroded.
In a separate report by Utusan Malaysia, new Jakim director-general Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim reportedly thanked those who expressed support towards the department amid alleged calls for Jakim to be abolished or have its functions minimised.
“I wish to state to all that Jakim places high hopes on the new government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that will continue to preserve Jakim according to its original functions when it was formed,” he was quoted saying, pointing out that Jakim grew and was upgraded during Dr Mahathir's rule in 1997.
Utusan Malaysia also reported Pahang mufti Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Osman as defending the role of Jakim in facilitating Islamic matters such as determining fatwa (religious edicts) and to coordinate matters such as the fixing of Hari Raya Aidilfitri dates.
“As an example, the issue of fixing Hari Raya Aidilfitri dates, states can decide when is the date for that, but with Jakim being present, that date can be coordinated,” he said.
“We have to remember Malaysia is not a secular country, attempts to push for religious institutions like Jakim to be abolished is seen as an attempt to make this country a secular country,” he was quoted saying, having noted the Federal Constitution's provision of Islam as the federation's religion.
Kelantan mufti Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad was also quoted saying by Utusan Malaysia: “If religious institutions such as Jakim and others are nullified, that means Islam as the federation's religion no longer has its soul and spirit.
“It is best that religious institutions are not touched or disturbed because their existence is in line with the Federal Constitution,” he said.