Poser over Syariah police force
PETALING JAYA, Jan 26: The proposed formation of a Syariah police unit has come under question in the legal circle with queries on its constitutionality and enforcement role.
Constitutional expert Syahredzan Johan said if the rationale offered for its formation was taken in context, it would mean the unit may possibly be used on religious minorities and voices critical of Islam.
“The announcement comes with the statement that Islam is under threat from groups like Comango (Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR process) and minorities such as the Shiites. The unit may be used to take action against these groups,” Syahredzan said.
“Islamic religious authorities do not have authority over non-Muslims, but the unit may now possibly be used to get around it; it is certainly a foreseeable situation,” Syahredzan said when commenting on a report that the police force was working with the Home Ministry and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) on setting up the unit.
Syahredzan said the unit would present a conflict in jurisdiction as the Federal Constitution expressed that Islamic matters falls under state legislatures while the Police are federal authorities.
He said it would appear to be a federal venture into a state’s legal authority to administer Islamic affairs and may result in the unit acting out of their normal jurisdictions.
Bar Council human Rights Committee chairman Andrew Khoo viewed the effort as a form of “militarisation”.
“The police themselves already have many complaints levelled against them. A unit that will possibly be trained and educated by the force will only create more issues in enforcement.’
Khoo pointed out that Jakim is not an enforcement entity and it would be unconstitutional if the police are to train officials from the department.
“It will be an uneasy and uncomfortable society, much like the totalitarian societies in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Khoo said.
Meanwhile, Criminal Law Committee chairman Rajpal Singh questioned the need for such a unit as the police are already assisting state religious authorities in enforcement.
“The police are now involved in enforcement as long as there is a breach of law, even if it’s Syariah law.”
It was pointwed out that there were two police officers present during the raid and seizure of more than 300 bibles in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) on Jan 4.
source: The Sun Daily