KOTA KINABALU, July 10 – Sabah will be among the first states to have four levels of Shariah Courts after tabling an enactment to empower the courts in the State Assembly here today.

State Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Ariffin Mohd Arif said that the new provision in the Shariah Courts Enactment of Sabah includes the establishment of the Supreme Shariah Court, and will further strengthen the justice system in various issues involving Islamic law in Sabah.

“With the passing of this Enactment, we will have four Shariah courts – the subordinate Lower Courts, High Court, Appeal Court and the latest, the Supreme Court.

“As mentioned by Pantai Manis assemblymen, this is a highly welcomed move that will give opportunity for Muslims to get their cases heard at a higher level of courts. This is a highly anticipated initiative to empower the Muslim community,” he said during his winding up on the Shariah Courts Enactment 2024.

Currently, there are 12 lower courts across the state and five Shariah High Courts in Sabah: in Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan, Kudat and Keningau.

“There have been proposals to have more High Courts so we will review the need to have it in other districts like Beaufort and Lahad Datu,” he said, adding that they were in the process of building a Shariah High Court in Tawau.

Ariffin also said that Shariah High Court judges are funded by the federal government, but the state government was looking at whether there was need to change this with more courts in the future.

In a related development, appointed state assemblyman Datuk Amisah Yassin said the Shariah Judiciary Department Malaysia (JKSM) needs to have its own buildings in the districts, and if they do not yet exist, the government should consider establishing Shariah Courts in every district.

"I also urge the government to review the shared services scheme for Sabah JKSM staff. Return the Shariah Courts to state administration so that there are more opportunities for Sabah graduates with Shariah Islamic degrees to contribute their services in this field or department," she said.