Zulkifli moves to amend Federal Constitution

Darussalam mosque

Darussalam mosque


By Shanon Shah (shanonshah@thenutgraph.com)

PETALING JAYA, 23 March 2009: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Member of Parliament (MP) Zulkifli Noordin has tried to move four motions in Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution regarding the status of Islam.

The first motion is to amend Article 3(1) to: “Islam is the religion of the Federation, including in terms of laws and legislation.”

The second motion proposes to amend Article 4(1) to: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and, except for Islamic laws and legislation, any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

The third motion proposes to amend Article 11(1) to: “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion, including changing his religion except for those adhering to Islam who must be subject to Islamic laws and legislation.

“To define those who adhere to Islam, the question of conversion to or apostasy from Islam must be determined by the syariah courts, which have absolute authority over the matter.”

The fourth motion is to amend the Ninth Schedule, List 2(1) to expand the powers of the syariah courts to try, judge and sentence non-conforming Muslims in accordance to Islamic laws and legislation.

In this motion, Zulkifli also asks for the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to be amended accordingly.

Zulkifli is also trying to move 16 other motions, some of which involve elevating the status of Islam, but these do not entail constitutional amendments.

These motions were published in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper, dated 16 March 2009.

The Nut Graph made several efforts to contact Zulkifli for more details about the motions but was unsuccessful.

Personal, not party views

However, PKR vice-president R Sivarasa dismissed concerns about the controversial MP’s motions, and told The Nut Graph: “These are Zulkifli’s personal views — the party doesn’t endorse those views.”

Sivarasa Sivarasa added that Zulkifli’s motions would most likely not even come up for discussion.

As of 16 March, Zulkifli’s motions were listed at the bottom of 65 motions being moved in Parliament.

“This is what I experienced myself when I tried several times to move a private member’s bill for freedom of information legislation last year,” Sivarasa said.

Sivarasa said that parliamentary systems in other democratic countries allow for a certain number of days during which opposition-sponsored bills, private members’ bills, or other motions can be discussed.

He said the Malaysian Parliament’s Standing Order 15(1) for the Dewan Rakyat, however, states that government business has precedence over private members’ business.

Zulkifli was a prominent participant in the 300-strong demonstration against the Bar Council forum Conversion to Islam: Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, Subashini and Shamala Revisited on 9 Aug 2008, together with others from PKR, PAS, Umno and various Muslim non-governmental organisations.

He was given a show cause letter by his party on 7 Sept 2008, but publicly refused to apologise for his actions. After delaying action on Zulkifli for months, PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali said on 5 March 2009 that the matter had been “settled internally” some time in 2008.

Syed Husin declined, however, to elaborate on how the matter was settled.

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