Concern over plan to place cops at M'sia's state religious depts

The Syariah Court on the third floor of the Family Link@Lengkok Bahru building in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR - MCA has voiced its concern over a plan by the authorities to have policemen placed at state Islamic affairs departments for the enforcement and prosecution of Syariah cases.

"We shudder at the thought of policemen with firearms implementing Syariah court decisions," said Kelantan MCA secretary Datuk Lua Choon Hann.

"If they are to execute Syariah court judgements or instructions from the state Islamic affairs departments against non-Muslims, such actions would contravene the Federal Constitution," he said in a statement yesterday.

Lua said non-Muslims are not bound by Syariah court decisions or directives from the state religious authorities.

He was commenting on the announcement last week by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that the process of placing policemen at the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and state religious departments was now in the final phase.

He was reported as saying the move could smoothen enforcement and prosecution of Syariah criminal cases with the experience of the police in handling crime cases.

The minister said that they were awaiting the appointments by the Public Service Department for the deployment of the police officers.

"What concerns us is that we recently saw a Syariah court awarding custody (of children) to a mualaf (Muslim convert) despite objections from the non-Muslim spouse," said Lua.

"We also had the Syariah court declaring that a man who had died was a Muslim despite the family insisting he was a practising non-Muslim."

In both cases, he said, the dispute ended up being a battle between the civil court and the Syariah court.