Category Archives: Press Releases

ISA Arrests

MPF PRESS RELEASE – ISA ARRESTS
13th September 2008

The arrests of MP Theresa Kok and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA following that of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin raise grave concern for Malaysians.

An endearing legacy of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership that we have come to appreciate is the openness albeit limited, that has come as a breath of fresh air after 2 decades of punitive control of the public sphere.

The arrests of the three individuals under the draconian law at a time when Malaysians have become more mature politically and less inclined to be baited by racial politics will no doubt further erode the legitimacy of and support for the ruling party, perhaps irrevocably.

Of no less import will be the repercussions to Malaysia’s reputation internationally, that time and again the ruling party resorts to an unjust and antiquated piece of legislation to silence dissent in order to sustain her cling to power.

It is clear to all that the arrests of MP Theresa Kok and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng are completely without justification. Tan was merely doing her job as a journalist and UMNO has undertaken the appropriate measures, including an apology from its deputy president. In the “Puchong Azan Issue”, MP Theresa Kok was arrested over what is clearly a false allegation. We urge the authorities to immediately release the two and bring to book those responsible for fomenting racial and religious hatred.

It cannot be completely denied that Raja Petra Kamarudin in his writings and those who contribute to his blog have expressed views that many Muslims consider as denigrating the prophet and the religion of Islam. However we believe this can be countered by sound arguments based on well accepted teachings and sources of Islam. In the extreme, the authorities may take him to the Syariah court. The use of the ISA is excessive, inhumane and runs counter to Islam’s principles of justice.

In this blessed month of Ramadhan, we urge the authorities to act justly in carrying out their responsibility of maintaining the peace and security of the country. We also urge everyone in the public sphere to exercise restraint and wisdom in discussing issues of race and religion.

Board of Directors
Muslim Professionals Forum

Dr. Mazeni Alwi
Dr. Shaikh Johari Bux
Haji Mohamed Ali Ghazali
Dato’ Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin

Bar Council forum on conversion to Islam

MPF PRESS RELEASE
12th August 2008

MPF regrets the unruly action of protestors that forced an abrupt end to the Bar Council forum on conversion to Islam on 9th August 2008. We acknowledge that as a nation with two justice systems as accorded by the Federal Constitution, there would be outstanding issues that remain unresolved, one of them being the subject of the Saturday forum.

It is quite understandable that when a divorce case between a Muslim and a non Muslim spouse is brought to the Syariah Court, the non Muslim would see this as an infringement of Islamic law against their rights. This may be due to a number of factors, among which are lack of knowledge and misconceptions of Islam and Islamic law based on precedent cases. It would not be inconceivable that there would be some degree of animosity and prejudice that the religion has directly or indirectly contributed to the dissolution of their marriage.

As much as we hold that the Syariah is an indivisible part of Islam, the functioning of the Syariah courts and the intricacies of specific enactments are human endeavours that will always have room for improvement.

The recommendation by a former SUHAKAM Commissioner, Dr. Mehrun Siraj that the Syariah court should not unilaterally make any decisions that might affect the rights of non Muslims, is a sound initiative towards resolving the issue and should be seriously considered by all states.

The Saturday incident, similar to the disruption of Article 11 Forum not long ago, showed that Islam and the administration of Islamic Law in this country is still very much a sensitive issue, one that touches many a Muslim across party lines. However, from the viewpoint of non Muslim rights on these outstanding issues and freedom of expression, there is a valid reason for holding such a public forum, with the possible consequences taken into consideration.

Meanwhile, we urge the government to reactivate the joint committee of civil and Syariah lawyers which had been tasked to discuss matters relating to marriage and family issues, to work towards an amicable solution.

Dr. Mazeni Alwi

Chairman

Muslim Professionals Forum

Lina Joy Case

15th May 2007

MPF PRESS RELEASE : Lina Joy Case

31st May 2007

It is with a sense of relief that we learned of the long-awaited Federal Court decision on the Azalina Jailani (Lina Joy) case. We would like to congratulate the judges who have exercised their wisdom and courage to come to a decision on such a controversial issue under the intense glare of the international and local media, alongside that of interested observers from across the spectrum of human rights and religious organizations.

We laud the Federal Court’s decision – upholding that of the Court of Appeal and the High Court – that the jurisdiction to change the religious status of a Muslim properly belongs to the Shariah Court.

For many of us this is clearly an issue of administrative procedure. However this has unfortunately been championed into a cause célèbre for the complete secularization of Malaysian society and to undermine the position of Islam in this country by turning it into a Human Rights issue – that of religious freedom under Article 11, in its wake generating unhealthy tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims.

For Muslims to feel euphoric that Islam has finally triumphed is also misplaced. This is not a battle between Islam and the rest. It is simply restoring things in their right place, of respecting the separate jurisdictions of the Shariah and Civil courts in accordance to Article 121(1a), and of adhering to procedures.

In our enthusiasm to champion religious freedom, let us not turn our backs on these mechanisms and institutions that have held together our complex society and the source of our much praised religious harmony.

Dr. Mazeni Alwi
Chairman
Muslim Professionals Forum

International Conference: “Muslim Women in the Midst of Change”

15th May 2007

MPF PRESS RELEASE : INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “MUSLIM WOMEN IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE”

Introduction
The status, role and real world situation of Muslim women have occupied a central position in present discussions on Islam and the modern world. This alongside the much questioned capability of Muslims to deal with democratic values and modern day ideas on human rights.

This perception arose because of the actual condition of women in Muslim societies that was contributed largely by local traditions and practices and not due to Islam itself. This however is ill understood by historians, sociologists, feminists, both Muslims and non-Muslims, conscious or unconsciously.

Nonetheless, it has to be recognized that the Islamic position and specific teachings with regards to gender equity, the institution of the family, personal and social behavioural mores do not accord with secular liberalism’s notion of gender equality and individual liberty.

The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) as a Muslim NGO that concerns itself with issues relevant to Islam and Muslims in the wider world and also within the context of modern, pluralistic Malaysian society, endeavours to address these issues by organizing an international conference on 1 – 2 September 2007 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), Kuala Lumpur.

The theme of the conference is “MUSLIM WOMEN IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE” and the objectives are as follows :-

  1. To understand the history and evolution of feminist “traditions” within Islam.
  2. To discuss Muslim gender roles from the Quran and Sunnah.
  3. To examine the injustices against women in Muslim societies and recommend solutions.

Participants
This seminar is open to the general public although we expect our audience to consist mainly of young professionals, women’s organizations, representatives from NGO’s, academics and representatives from the various Islamic and governmental institutions in Malaysia. Efforts would be made to attract participants from the Asia-Pacific region.

Contents of the Seminar
The two (2) day seminar will open with a keynote address by the Minister of Women, Family & Community Development, Y.Bhg. Dato’ Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. There are three (3) plenary lectures and nine (9) workshop sessions.

The plenary lectures will address the general contours and intellectual background of the particular topic, drawing from modern scholarly works, traditional sources and the experiences of modernizing Muslim societies. The titles of the plenary lectures are :

  1. Feminist Thinking Revisited
  2. Islam & Gender
  3. Muslim Women at the Cross Roads – Cultural & Traditional Values vs Religious Imperatives

The speakers assigned for these lectures are distinguished scholars and professionals whose contribution to the field has been internationally recognized.

The workshops and breakout sessions will give the opportunity for participants to discuss and exchange ideas on specific topics, the focus of which will be weaknesses in Muslim society with regards to interpretation of Islamic teachings, the influence of local traditions and cultures, short comings of the Islamic administration/institution that hampered Muslim women from achieving their full potential.

The workshop facilitators who will be guiding the discussions are Malaysian NGO leaders known for their activism and advocacy with regards to Muslim women issues in the local context whereas the international speakers will be the workshop resource persons.

List of international speakers and facilitators

  1. Heba Rauf (Egypt)
  2. Dr. Haitham Khayat (Egypt)
  3. Dr. Sulaiman Dufford (USA)
  4. Assoc. Prof. Harlina Siraj (UKM)
  5. Assoc. Prof. Zaleha (UIA)
  6. Dr. Kamar Ainiah (Lawyer)
  7. Zainah Anwar (SIS)
  8. Roselainy Abdul Rahman (UTM)
  9. Kamaliah Noordin (JIM)
  10. Other speakers To Be Confirmed

The last session of the seminar will be in the form of an open forum where the invited speakers and participants will have the opportunity to express ideas on issues raised in the course of the seminar.

Conclusion
It is hoped that this seminar will raise the level of awareness on this major issue of Islam and society, as well as perhaps offering some solution from this new insight especially for policy makers and government institutions. Putting together an international seminar on this scale is a huge organizational burden. The formal support and financial grant from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development will go a long way towards ensuring the success of the conference.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE : FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT

” MUSLIM WOMEN IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE ”

DATE : 1-2 SEPTEMBER 2007
VENUE : KUALA LUMPUR CONVENTION CENTER

OBJECTIVES:

  1. To understand the history and evolution of feminist “traditions” within Islam.
  2. To discuss Muslim gender roles from the Quran and Sunnah.
  3. To examine the injustices against women in Muslim societies and recommend solutions.

Muslim Women in the Midst of Change Flyer/Programme

Shariah Enactments Tramples Civil Liberties with Impunity?

MPF PRESS RELEASE
Shariah Enactments Tramples Civil Liberties with Impunity?

The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) views it preposterous the accusation that the Shariah enactment “tramples civil liberties with impunity”, which was also the title in a regular column in an English broadsheet recently. The writer cited specifically articles 5 and 10 of the Federal Constitution as being violated by the Shariah enactments. However, the use of heavy jargon borrowed from the human rights discourse could hardly hide the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the limited scope of the Shariah enactment as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

The substance of article 5 in the Federal Constitution is about the unlawfulness of detention without trial and the right to a legal counsel, that no person shall be deprived of his life and liberty save in accordance with the law. With reference to the Shariah, “… in the case of an arrest for an offence which is triable by a Shariah court, references in this clause to magistrate shall be construed as including references to a judge of a Shariah court.”

Article 10 refers to the right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression, the right of assemble peacably and without arms, and the right to form associations, while the parliament may by law impose restrictions in these areas in the interest of security.

In neither of these areas of fundamental human rights which have been universally recognized and accepted worldwide, do the state religious bodies empowered to formulate the Shariah enactments have any jurisdiction.

We are equally concerned that some aspects of Shariah enforcement do infringe on the privacy of citizens or may not have been conducted in a professional manner, and we accept that these enactments should be subject to review. But in no way should this be a justification for a blanket attack on the Shariah under the false premise of trampling of fundamental liberties as stipulated in articles 5 and 10.

The Shariah is the epitome of the Islamic spirit, the very manifestation of the Islamic way of life based on an unqualified submission to the will of God. “For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He as given you” ( Al-Quran; V:48 ).

Muslims have a right to be governed by the Shariah and we reiterate that this concerns only Muslims. In practice, our co-religionists have always been able to exercise the right to opt for the westernised lifestyle without regard for Shariah “with impunity”. We have always respected the lifestyle choices of our fellow Muslims. The least we ask of them is to reciprocate this respect and not to denigrate Islam and the Shariah.

Dr. Sarah Haniza bte Dato Abdul Ghani
Board Member
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my

Enactment 2005 Malacca – show goodness and mercy

MPF PRESS RELEASE
Enactment 2005 Malacca – show goodness and mercy

We at the Muslim Professionals Forum ( MPF ) read with great concern the debate on the Muslim wills enactment 2005 in the Malacca state assembly as reported in the Star last week ( 1 April 2005 ).

During the debate, the plight of the late Abdul Wahid Lim Abdullah’s family came to light. The deceased had converted to Islam in July 1992 without the knowledge of his family, and died 5 months later in a car accident. As Abdul Wahid had died without leaving a will, his estate was automatically placed under the administration of the Malacca Islamic Religious Council. His wife and 3 children being non-Muslims, lost their right to be the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate.

While this is substantively correct, the Wakaf management committee could perhaps exercise their discretionary powers to return the estate to the deceased’s dependents in the form of a gift.

It is important that the administration of Islamic affairs be seen to be sensitive, just and compassionate to all. In a multi-religious society like ours, such situations and entanglements that involve Muslim and non-Muslim parties are not uncommon, and this calls for greater wisdom and sensitivity on the part of those entrusted with religious authority.

It is callous insensitivity to ask the deceased’s family to pursue their claims in the civil court and subject themselves to the indignity of a drawn-out legal process. The other alternative suggested by the Chief Minister of Malacca, to return it as a gift, is more just to all parties and it is indeed long overdue.

All laws whether Shariah or civil implemented in the name of justice must always be tempered with ihsan (goodness) and rahmah (mercy). We need to show compassion and mercy on his family and not be afraid of creating a precedent. This gesture would echo the Quranic exhortations: “Lo! Allah commands you that you restore deposits to their owners, and if you judge between mankind that you judge justly. Lo! Comely is this which Allah admonish you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer.”

( Al-Quran; An-Nisaa’ : Verse 58 )

S.L. Pang @ Farah Abdullah
Board Member
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my

Muslim wills enactment 2005 debate in Malacca

Shariah Enactments Tramples Civil Liberties With Impunity?
by Dr. Sarah Haniza bte Dato Abdul Ghani

The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) views it preposterous the accusation that the Shariah enactment “tramples civil liberties with impunity”, which was also the title in a regular column in an English broadsheet recently. The writer cited specifically articles 5 and 10 of the Federal Constitution as being violated by the Shariah enactments. However, the use of heavy jargon borrowed from the human rights discourse could hardly hide the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the limited scope of the Shariah enactment as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

The substance of article 5 in the Federal Constitution is about the unlawfulness of detention without trial and the right to a legal counsel, that no person shall be deprived of his life and liberty save in accordance with the law. With reference to the Shariah, “… in the case of an arrest for an offence which is triable by a Shariah court, references in this clause to magistrate shall be construed as including references to a judge of a Shariah court.”

Article 10 refers to the right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression, the right of assemble peacably and without arms, and the right to form associations, while the parliament may by law impose restrictions in these areas in the interest of security.

In neither of these areas of fundamental human rights which have been universally recognized and accepted worldwide, do the state religious bodies empowered to formulate the Shariah enactments have any jurisdiction.

We are equally concerned that some aspects of Shariah enforcement do infringe on the privacy of citizens or may not have been conducted in a professional manner, and we accept that these enactments should be subject to review. But in no way should this be a justification for a blanket attack on the Shariah under the false premise of trampling of fundamental liberties as stipulated in articles 5 and 10.

The Shariah is the epitome of the Islamic spirit, the very manifestation of the Islamic way of life based on an unqualified submission to the will of God. “For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He as given you” ( Al-Quran; V:48 ).

Muslims have a right to be governed by the Shariah and we reiterate that this concerns only Muslims. In practice, our co-religionists have always been able to exercise the right to opt for the westernised lifestyle without regard for Shariah “with impunity”. We have always respected the lifestyle choices of our fellow Muslims. The least we ask of them is to reciprocate this respect and not to denigrate Islam and the Shariah.

Dr. Sarah Haniza bte Dato Abdul Ghani
Board Member
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my

Enactment 2005 Malacca – show goodness and mercy
by S.L. Pang @ Farah Abdullah

We at the Muslim Professionals Forum ( MPF ) read with great concern the debate on the Muslim wills enactment 2005 in the Malacca state assembly as reported in the Star last week ( 1 April 2005 ).

During the debate, the plight of the late Abdul Wahid Lim Abdullah’s family came to light. The deceased had converted to Islam in July 1992 without the knowledge of his family, and died 5 months later in a car accident. As Abdul Wahid had died without leaving a will, his estate was automatically placed under the administration of the Malacca Islamic Religious Council. His wife and 3 children being non-Muslims, lost their right to be the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate.

While this is substantively correct, the Wakaf management committee could perhaps exercise their discretionary powers to return the estate to the deceased’s dependents in the form of a gift.

It is important that the administration of Islamic affairs be seen to be sensitive, just and compassionate to all. In a multi-religious society like ours, such situations and entanglements that involve Muslim and non-Muslim parties are not uncommon, and this calls for greater wisdom and sensitivity on the part of those entrusted with religious authority.

It is callous insensitivity to ask the deceased’s family to pursue their claims in the civil court and subject themselves to the indignity of a drawn-out legal process. The other alternative suggested by the Chief Minister of Malacca, to return it as a gift, is more just to all parties and it is indeed long overdue.

All laws whether Shariah or civil implemented in the name of justice must always be tempered with ihsan (goodness) and rahmah (mercy). We need to show compassion and mercy on his family and not be afraid of creating a precedent. This gesture would echo the Quranic exhortations: “Lo! Allah commands you that you restore deposits to their owners, and if you judge between mankind that you judge justly. Lo! Comely is this which Allah admonish you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer.”

( Al-Quran; An-Nisaa’ : Verse 58 )

S.L. Pang @ Farah Abdullah
Board Member
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my

Policing Morality

MPF Press Release: Policing Morality

The Muslim Professionals Forum ( MPF ) regrets the use of the jargon “moral policing” in the present campaign to seek a repeal of the Sharia enactment deemed in contradiction to international norms of human rights. We view this as an underhanded attempt to cast those who support the present administration of Islamic affairs based on the constitutional provisions in a very negative light even before fair debate begins.

We acknowledge that recent incidents that highlighted the unprofessional conduct on the part of enforcement officers such as the JAWI raid on a discotheque deserves public scrutiny. It has to be admitted that some parties have been denied justice because of the human weaknesses either in the formulation or the implementation of some aspects of the Sharia enactment. However, instead of calling for a review or fine-tuning of the substance of the individual enactment concerned and rectifying the weaknesses of its enforcement, such incidents have been opportunistically and grossly manipulated to force-feed a totalising secularisation onto the Muslim community.

It is correct for HAKAM secretary-general Ms Elizabeth Wong to say, “let people decide what they want to wear and when, until they break the penal code”( The Sun; March 26-27 ) insofar as non-Muslims are concerned, and we would strongly defend that right. But many Muslims, probably the great majority, should similarly enjoy the inalienable right to be governed by the Sharia as part of their religious obligations. Is this too much to ask by modern standards of fairplay and justice ? The Quranic verse puts it most plainly “unto you your deen (way of life) and unto me my deen” ( Al-Quran; Al-Kafirun : Verse 6 ).

It is most unfortunate that the human rights language has been notoriously abused by a few individuals and groups who are pushing for Malaysian Muslims to jettison their religious traditions and adopt wholly the west’s post modern materialism and secular ideologies.

The phrase “policing morality” is well calculated to heap abuse and scorn on proponents of moral legislation. But like it or not, any so called civilised society cannot do without some degree of legislation that touches on moral issues, such as the age limit when consensual sex is considered rape even when there are supposedly no victims.

The signatories of the “anti moral policing” document needs to recognise that the very foundation of the penal code itself is the preservation of morality. Decency laws exist even in the most liberal of societies. The campaign to repeal state and municipal bylaws ( which for Muslims is the Sharia enactments ) on the argument that it overlaps with the penal code, is misguided. From London and New York to Manila and Tokyo, decency laws under the purview of municipal authorities exist alongside the penal code. In Malaysia, just because it happens to be based on Islamic teachings, it is seen as unfashionable and anti-modern. But this concerns only Muslims and it is improper and insensitive for non-Muslims to interfere.

Islam, in her outward manifestations, has definite rulings on such matters as alcohol consumption, gambling, sexuality and marriage, decency and morality, wealth inheritance and tithe collection and distribution. In Malaysia, statutory bodies under the aegis of the Malay rulers as provided for by the constitution, formulate, implement and administer these Sharia rulings.

Understandably, there would be sections within the Muslim community who may find the Sharia rulings too restrictive or embarrassing to their western, secular sensibilities. But this is strictly an internal problem normal to any religious community, and best resolved intra-faithfully. We regret that a few Muslims, anxious to be decorated as champions of progressive, liberal Islam have turned these normal internal differences into national issues by seeking the support of those outside the faith who share the common desire for complete secularisation of society, to force religion and spirituality into the private domain.

This is truly a morbid trend as far as religious harmony is concerned. In the spirit of mutual respect, Muslims have never interfered nor commented on the affairs of other religions. The Babas and Nyonyas,and to a certain extent the Chinese of Kelantan and Terengganu have peacefully lived among the Muslim Malays for centuries, even assimilating Malay culture and language, but the host community have never interfered in their religion. Hence, despite their cool and tolerant cultural predisposition, the mainstream Muslim Malays feel hurt, nay flabbergasted and outraged by this brazen interference in the affairs of their faith.

We would urge our Muslim co-signatories of the “repeal Sharia laws” document to resolve these intra-faith matters through discussions and consultations with mainstream Muslim groups and the relevant authorities.

In any case, these are relatively minor issues in comparison to the daunting problems which are afflicting our society notably, a culture of permissiveness and promiscuity, endemic corruption, poverty, the widening income gap, unbalanced development, rape of the environment, the urban-rural divide, alarming escalation in heinous crime and the perpetual drugs menace.

In our joint pursuit of truth, justice and fair-play, we should not allow parochial and careless sentiments from jeopardising our time tested national religious harmony, tolerance and mutual respect. We should embrace the spirit of togetherness and synergy as exhorted by the verse “but help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty; help not one another unto sin and transgression” ( Al-Quran; Al-Maidah: Verse 2 )

Signed

Dr. Sheik Johari Bux bin Sheik Yaacob Bux
sjbong3454@hotmail.com

Board Member
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my