Be flexible for child marriages under local customs, Sabah lawmaker tells NRD

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 ― The National Registration Department (NRD) should be flexible when it comes to an underage girl who marries according to the customs in Sabah, a state lawmaker has said.

Liawan assemblyman Datuk Sairin Karno, who is also an assistant state minister, noted that underage marriages are permitted under customs in Sabah for girls.

“For me, those who are under the age of 18 cannot marry according to the law, but in Sabah a custom allows a girl between 14 and 18 to wed with the consent of the family,” he was quoted saying by local daily The Borneo Post. Read more

Minister: Children should be entitled to legal representation

Source: Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 17 — The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is in discussions to ensure legal counsel for children.

Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said the legal counsel would act in the best interests of children, especially in divorce proceedings and custody battles.

“Parents in the midst of a divorce usually appoint their own lawyers but the children caught in between don’t get a say,” Rohani said at the “Lawyers for Children: Their Right To Be Represented” forum yesterday.

Over 100 people from the legal fraternity, children’s rights groups and the Social Welfare Department (JKM) attended the forum. Read more

Tudung ban on hotel workers a violation of women’s rights, says minister

Source: Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 16 — The tudung (headscarf) ban on Muslim hotel staff is a violation of women’s rights, says Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim.

She said the move was against the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

“I was shocked with the news (on the tudung ban), This (wearing tudung) is a woman’s right. This issue has never cropped up before. Why has it become an issue in our country now?” she said to reporters after opening the forum on ‘Legal Counsel For Children: Their Right To Be Represented’, here, today.

Recently, the Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International (Uni-MLC) claimed that many Muslim female hotel employees had complained about the discriminatory practice of being told to remove their headscarves.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MSH) chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee then reportedly said that the policy was practised by the international hotel chains that used the same standard operating procedure on uniforms globally.

On the issue, Rohani also welcomed and appreciated the statement by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz who regarded the tudung ban as discriminatory and insensitive.

Meanwhile, Rohani said children drawn into cases involving the family law should get legal representation by counsel in order to safeguard their welfare and for their voice to be heard.

She said in divorce cases in court, couples had their respective counsel to fight for their rights and welfare but the children had no counsel to voice out their views and rights.

Rohani said the ministry had organised today’s forum in collaboration with Lawyers Friends for Life to discuss the importance of counsel to represent children in such cases, besides seeking a suitable mechanism which could protect their rights.

She said New Zealand was among countries where children were represented by counsel.

Mais: Dewan Bahasa can prepare BM bible to correct Christians’ ‘Allah’ use

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka can prepare an official Malay translation of the bible to correct Christians’ alleged error in using the word “Allah” for God, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) asserted in court today.

Mais lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla claimed that the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak had wrongly used “Allah” for God in Bahasa Malaysia, arguing that they should instead use “Tuhan” and that this would not deprive them of their rights.

“That’s why we submit it should be sent to Dewan Bahasa. That will also be in line with para 2 of 2011,” he said, referring to the government’s 10-point solution issued in 2011 which had said bibles of all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, can be printed in Malaysia.

“The government is also interested in allowing for Bahasa Malaysia publication of bibles. If Bahasa Malaysia publication of bibles is allowed, Dewan Bahasa would then prepare text to be approved by the Christian community, we would then not have this issue for generations to come,” he said. Read more

Rights groups support anti-discrimination laws

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Several non-government organisations (NGOs) urged the government today to enact anti-discrimination laws, after a PKR lawmaker suggested legislating against workplace discrimination.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) said such laws were necessary after a recent incident involving an international hotel not allowing its front desk staff to wear headscarves.

“All policies should uphold the basic principle enshrined under Article 8 of Federal Constitution that guarantees equality and non-discrimination on the basis of gender and religion.

“Towards this aim, we call for increasing urgency to adopt a Gender Equality Act for Malaysia that would end gender discrimination in the workplace and other spheres of life,” the group said in a statement today. Read more

Putrajaya’s 10-point solution overrides 1986 ‘Allah’ ban on Christian publications, court told

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 ― The federal government’s 2011 solution dubbed the “10-Point Solution” overrides its 1986 outdated ban on the word “Allah” in Christian publications, a lawyer argued in the High Court today.

Lim Heng Seng, the lead counsel for his Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christian client Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, claimed the government’s lawyer had effectively acknowledged that the 10-point solution overrode the 1986 ban.

Lim also said a memo was issued by the Home Ministry’s secretary-general to government officials for compliance with the 10-point solution in 2011 or risk disciplinary proceedings.

“So why do you allow the 1986 directive to hang like a sword of Damocles over Christians?” he asked.

“Obsolete, redundant, inapplicable and overridden,” he said when describing the 1986 government directive. Read more

Lawyers: Workplace discrimination law won’t affect Bumiputera quotas

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 ― Enacting a law against employment discrimination will not contradict constitutional provisions that provide for Bumiputera quotas for positions in public service, lawyers said.

Lawyer Surendra Ananth noted that the Federal Constitution’s Article 153 ― which covers the special position of Malays and Sabah and Sarawak’s natives ― is limited to only the public sector in terms of the workplace, and already provides for the equality that a workplace discrimination law would push for.

“I don’t think there would be a contradiction of Article 153. As far as workplace is concerned, Article 153 refers expressly to public services only. Further, Article 153 inherently provides for the safeguard of equality and non-discrimination,” he said, citing Article 153(5) which expressly said that nothing in Article 153 would diminish Article 136. Read more

‘Restricting foreign Islamic experts stunts intellectual development’

Source: FMT News

Pic from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Using laws to restrict intellectuals from abroad from discussing Islam will stunt the intellectual development of the country, warned Universiti Malaya Academic Association chairman and law professor Azmi Sharom.

“By not appreciating intellectual development, you are actually being anti-patriotic and you are destroying this nation.”

Azmi was responding to a report today that a prominent US academician had cancelled her trip to Malaysia after learning about Turkish-born writer Mustafa Akyol’s experience here.

Akyol, who came to Malaysia to deliver a talk, was detained and questioned by religious authorities on suspicion of speaking on Islam without officially recognised credentials. Read more

Professor: Only Parliament can limit freedom of expression

Source: FMT News

Pic from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Freedom of expression, one of the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution, can only be limited by laws passed in Parliament, says law academic Azmi Sharom.

He described the ban on the Bahasa Malaysia version of Allah, Liberty and Love by Irshad Manji, Azmi as frightening, arguing that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) had used the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 to ban the book.

He explained Article 10 of the Federal Constitution was extremely clear in that it guaranteed Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

This freedom, however, was not absolute, he said, as Parliament had the power to impose limits, if necessary, in the interests of national security, public order and morality.

“Here’s the clincher. This ban was done under state shariah law.

“Freedom of expression can only be limited by laws made by Parliament — not the Selangor state assembly. That is not Parliament. Read more

S’gor top in abandoned baby cases

Source: The Star Online

THERE were 115 abandoned babies last year and another 59 cases as of June this year, Women, Family and Community Deputy Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said.

She said Selangor recorded the most number of abandoned baby cases with 23 babies in 2016 and 16 cases this year.

This was followed by Johor (19) and the Federal Territories (16) in 2016 and Sabah (7) and Kuala Lumpur (7) as of June this year.

Azizah said the majority of the abandoned babies were from one community.

“While the race of abandoned babies are generally not known, police investigations found that they were from one community,” she said when answering a question by Dr Che Rosli Che Mat (PAS-Hulu Langat). Read more