Federal Court should have referred to Malaysia Agreement on apostasy case, say Sarawak churches

Source: The Malaysian Insight

THE Federal Court should have referred to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the constitution before pushing the conversion cases to the shariah court, the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) said.

ACS chairman Reverend Justin Wan said the Federal Court should not have interfered because the state is independent as far as MA63 is concern.

“Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but Sabah and Sarawak are free to exercise our religious beliefs. It is one of the points of the 18-point agreement.  

“So as far as Sarawak is concerned this issue should not be decided by the Federal Court.

“All this while the civil court had said they (shariah court) have no jurisdiction on apostasy cases, and now the Federal Court says they have.

“We leave today’s decision to the court, but we still feel that it is not a wise decision. It’s not right in the context of Sarawak,” he told The Malaysian Insight. Read more

Federal Court defers to Shariah courts in Sarawak apostasy cases

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya – File pix

KUCHING, Feb 27 — The Federal Court ruled today that the Sarawak Shariah Court has jurisdiction over the bid by four Sarawakians — a Malay-Muslim and three Muslim converts — to embrace Christianity.

Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said the decision was unanimous.

“We have studied written submissions and arguments by from both parties and we found  that there is no merit in the appeals,” he said.

He added that while there is no specific provision in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordinance 2001 concerning conversions into and out of Islam, there were provisions under the Sarawak Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) concerning such matters.

He said these existed under Sections 68, 69 and 70 of the MAIS Ordinance.

On the applicants’ legal question asking if the Shariah courts have jurisdiction over apostasy applications when there are no specific provisions in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordnance 2001, Zulkefli said the answer was yes.

Today’s decision means the four applicants — Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hosen and Muslim converts Jenny binti Peter alias Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah, Mohd Syafiq Abdullah alias Tiong Choo Ting and Salina Jau binti Abdullah — must have their cases heard by the Shariah courts. Read more

Top court to hear who has power to decide four Sarawakians’ conversion out of Islam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Four Sarawakians are seeking to have the civil courts declare that they are Christians and have the government’s recognition that they are no longer Muslims. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — The Federal Court is scheduled to hear today the joint appeal of four Sarawakians who want to know if it is the civil or the state Shariah courts which can decide on their bid to convert out of Islam.

The hearing is part of the many years of waiting by the four who just want their identity card and official records to reflect the fact that they are now practising Christians. Read more

Malaysia joins Indonesia, Brunei as worst regional freedom of thought offenders in 2016

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysia joins Muslim-majority neighbours Indonesia and Brunei, which were similarly ranked as the worst freedom of thought offenders in the Southeast Asian region. — AFP pic

Malaysia joins Muslim-majority neighbours Indonesia and Brunei, which were similarly ranked as the worst freedom of thought offenders in the Southeast Asian region. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 ― Malaysia has been rated as “grave violators” of the rights and treatment of the non-religious in this year’s Freedom of Thought Report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).

The country joins Muslim-majority neighbours Indonesia and Brunei, which were similarly ranked as the worst offenders in the Southeast Asian region.

“Malaysia rates very badly for freedom of thought and expression, with ethnic Malays subjected to strict state controls over an enforced, homogenous religious identity, including mandatory Shariah laws, and in two states hudud enactments mandating death for ‘apostasy’,” said the report published this week.

In March 2015, Kelantan passed the amendment to its so-called hudud law, the Syariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment (Kelantan) 1993 which prescribed jail for an apostate to repent, and execution if repentance is impossible.

Terengganu has a similar law passed in 2002: the Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Enactment.

At the moment, Shariah courts cannot impose death penalty due to the limitations of sentences it can mete out in the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, the law which Islamist party PAS and the ruling party Umno are aiming to amend.

Malaysia was given a score of 4 for the “constitution and government” and “education and children’s rights” categories, and 5 for “family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals” and “freedom of expression advocacy of humanist values”. Read more

High Court allows leave application for judicial review of apostasy case

Source: The Borneo Post Online

Chua (left) and Azmi @ Roneey’s elder sister, Skeeter Joana Gri, after the court hearing. Skeeter represented her brother to attend the court case.

Chua (left) and Azmi @ Roneey’s elder sister, Skeeter Joana Gri, after the court hearing. Skeeter represented her brother to attend the court case.

KUCHING: The High Court here yesterday allowed leave of application for judicial review (JR) of a case involving apostasy in the state.

Said to be a landmark case for Sarawak, the issue of the case is whether the Syariah Court or the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear the matter involving apostasy.

High Court Judge Datuk Yew Jen Kie fixed Inter Partes Hearing at 9am on Jan 15 next year.

According to a brief summary of the case, the JR applicant Azmi Mohamad Azam @ Roneey Rebit, a Bidayuh, was born in 1975 and had been given the name ‘Roneey Anak Rebit’.

Both of his parents are also Bidayuh and were Christians by religion. His father was a soldier and both of his parents were attracted to Islam when his father was on duty in Kuala Lumpur.

The applicant’s parents converted into the religion of Islam in Sarawak. At that time, the applicant was only eight years old, hence he had no choice but to follow his parents. Read more