Saturday, January 07, 2006

M.Moorthy Constitutional Controversy Pt 2

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (read his Jan 5 post) convened a Parliamentary Roundtable to discuss the wrangle the other day. The meeting which was chaired by Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, involved former Attorney General and current SUHAKAM chairman Abu Talib Othman who drafted Article 121(1A), that was adopted in 1988.

Among participants were lawyer/columnist Salbiah Ahmad, Human Rights Society (HAKAM) representative Malik Imtiaz Ghulam; Bar Council representative Ramdas Tikamdas; lawyer/Kota Baru MP Zaid Ibrahim; Malaysia Hindu Sangam president A. Vaithilingam; DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng; Harcharan Singh, vice-president of Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Sikhism (MCCBCHS); and fellow representative Rev Wong Kim Kong who is also the Secretary General of National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF).

At the reportedly heated meeting, 5 resolutions were adopted (Thanks to Screenshots):

  • Restore the pre-1988 Article 121 (when Muslims could seek redress at both Syariah and civil courts) and the repeal of Article 121 (1A) which limits civil courts’ jurisdiction over matters which are within the rule of the Syariah court.
  • Call on Prime Minister to establish a Parliamentary select Committee on the problems created by Article 121 (1a)
  • Civil society is gravely concerned and dissatisfied with the denial of justice in Moorthy's case and other similar cases
  • Forum gravely concerned over the matter in which the state religious authorities enforce Islamic law, in particular against non-Muslims.
  • Call on the Attorney-General's Chambers to act in the public interest in Moorthy's and all similar cases and to represent equality of rights of all citizens, with full regards to the entrenched values of equality in the Federal Constitution, irrespective of race and religion

Meanwhile in an interview with Malaysiakini, head of Independent Living and Training Centre (ILTC) Francis Siva said religious organisations should improve efforts in counseling and rehabilitating the newly-disabled. Francis himself a quadriplegic who had known the late Everest hero M. Moorthy added this damming remark:

“In his condition when he was not capable of making rational decisions, when his physical condition was critical, where were these people who are now fighting for religious rights? Which religious group came to offer him counseling? To cool his body that often became very hot? To give him food? To clean him? There was only his wife. Who taught him to drive as a disabled and gave him a sense of independence?”

That cut me deep.

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