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KUALA LUMPUR, June 16:

Malaysia is not a secular country, as the official religion of the state is Islam, stressed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Religious Affairs, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

Jamil Khir added that this is also based on historical facts which shows that the formation of Malaysia adhered to the Islamic Malay Sultanate, with the Malay rulers being placed as Islamic religion heads in their respective states.

“This is strengthened by Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which clearly states that Islam is the official religion in the Federal region, while other religion can be freely practised.

“This is further edified with the presence of other laws which guarantees this,” Jamil Khir added pointing out the following;

– Clause (4) Article 11 (with regards to insulating the propagation of any doctrines or religious beliefs among Muslims by the state or Federal laws);

– Clause (2) Article 12 (with regards to education, whereby it is legitimate for the Federal region or any states to form or mantain or help in forming or maintaining the institution of Islam or have or help in organising the teaching of the Islam religion and spending whatever that is necessary).

– Clause (1A) Article 121 (that Civil Court has no jurisdiction of power with regards to any matter that falls within the purview of the Syariah Court.)

– Provision 1 of the Ninth Schedule States List of the Federal Constitution (which includes among others, Syariah Laws and self and family laws for Muslims and the control of the doctrine and belief among Muslims and the oath of the King in Schedule 4 to uphold Islam at all times.

“Therefore, our position is different from that of secular countries which does not fix an official religion for their county, but their people are allowed to practise their respective faiths.

“Their religion is a separate matter and is their personal practice,” he said in a written reply to Oscar Ling Chai Yew (DAP-Sibu).

Ling had asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to state whether hudud laws are in breach with the Federal Constitution, whether the Federal government plans to implement hudud and whether Malaysia is a secular or Islamic country.

He also asked Najib to define what he means by secular if it was.

On the question of hudud implementation, Jamil Khir said that based on Clause (2) Article 74 and Provision 1, States List, Ninth Schedule and the Federal Constitution, Islamic laws are placed under the purview of the states.

The state’s powers with regards to the creation and execution of wrongdoings against the order of Islam is only applicable to Muslims, and only as permitted by the Federal Constitution.

“The government is well aware of Kelantan state government’s intention to implement the said Syariah Criminal Code.

“Therefore, before this comes into being, the current laws in place need to be studied to ensure that the Islamic laws are in tandem with the Federal Constitution and laws which have already been enforced.”

Jamil Khir added that in this matter, the government has always attempted to work in stages to ensure that the Syariah Criminal Code is implemented, and this includes broadening the Syariah Courts powers, upgrade the Syariah judiciary system and rechecking the position of Syariah Court judges.

“At the same time, state governments need to view seriously, the principles of justice and equality in matters of execution.

“The implementation of the Syariah Criminal Code needs a high standard of proof and full scrutinising before a punishment is ruled. Any doubts which are successfully raised, or when a prima facie fails to be proven, will result in the punishment not being meted out to the accused,” he added.

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