Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lina Joy

Triumphant shouts of "Allahu Akhbar"—meaning, God is great—greeted the landmark ruling passed today in Malaysia's highest court. Since 7.30am, 300-odd Muslim supporters from 80 different Islamic bodies had begun joining the concerned and the curious outside the courthouse. Whatever the court's decision (and there were only two possible outcomes), they must have rehearsed their reactions the night before in their heads. Which is why a few hours later, in a 2-1 majority decision (two Muslim judges; one non-Muslim), the Federal Court announced their rejection of Lina Joy's appeal to drop the word 'Islam' from her IC, and spontaneously, unanimously, the circumcised crowd roared.

This Big Issue sets a precedent for future religious-based rulings. It will confirm, to an extent, a nagging suspicion that has bugged our national conscience: How much of an Islamic country is Malaysia? Can citizens still believe in the freedom of religion granted under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, or is the Syariah Court sneaking up to devour any delusions Malaysians, particularly the minority, have concerning our religious freedom? Pertinent questions to a country that is rumoured to face the voting booths later this year.

My initial thoughts on this case are rather convoluted (which pretty much reflects the state of my mind most of the time). I don't know nuts about the law, and I don't hardly read the papers.

Even if I were to spew my thoughts, and in the process spring-clean my brain, they'd probably just echo popular sentiment. Some examples include:

  • There's no hope for Malaysia. We're doomed. The system favours Islam, Muslims and on a lighter note, mamaks (who are Muslim).
  • This case really demonstrates how the Federal Court is allowing itself, via the powers that be inside it, to be shackled by the Syariah Court. The recent string on conversion cases show how they conveniently pass the bucket—and their responsibility to uphold justice—to the Syariah courts who greedily lap up their growing power. (Yes I am being judgmental here.)
  • Perhaps Malaysians surely couldn't have expected any or both of the Muslim judges presiding the case to say yes to Joy. With Lina's Muslim lawyer getting death threats in the past, such a liberal judge would have had his Merc bombed the moment he stepped into it; his family destroyed.
  • It seems like Barisan now wants to attract more Muslim voters compared to non-Muslims.
  • If the Church in Malaysia had come together and fervently prayed for the issue, would the decision have been any different?
(Cue commercial break)

As it is very late and I'm tired (tonight and yesterday, I left work at 12.40am and 10.45pm respectively), and also because I had an Angkor (not Anchor) beer courtesy of Rachel and her recent adventures in Cambodia, I will rush on and merely state that with each passing year, I'm becoming more pessimistic about the country I was born in and now reside, and her future. With alternative news sources booming, the rose-tinted image of Malaysia I held as a kid has shrivelled up and died. I read of corruption, nepotism, greed, injustice. Politics is a shit-smeared undergarment that is never washed.

With troubles all around, let's go back to the Lina Joy case. The demerits of the court's decision are obvious to the minority and especially to Lina Joy herself. Ultimately however, what matters is that Joy has the freedom to choose her God in her heart. At the very least, that's something no one can take away.

1 comment:

reader said...

wow, it's blue.