Thursday, May 31, 2007

The obligatory Lina Joy post

Since yesterday morning, people who know I blog (and even one commentor) have been asking me about what I think about the Lina Joy decision. I’m not sure whether they are looking for a political, religious or socio-economic perspective. Maybe they want to know how I feel (happy, sad, relieved etc.) about it. Perhaps they expect an irreverent or humorous comment from me to make light of what is a very troubling issue.

To tell you the truth, I feel nothing. Only because the decision is expected.

I notice many bloggers highlighting the fact that the 3 judge quorum of the Federal Court were made up of 2 Muslims and 1 non-Muslim so it was no surprise that it was the Muslim judges who decided against Lina Joy with the non-Muslim judge dissenting. The conclusion must be that the proceedings was biased against Lina from the start.

What we saw yesterday was a classic example of legal realism at work. If the term is new to you, let me offer a definition. It is the theory that common-law adjudication is an inherently subjective system that produces inconsistent and sometimes incoherent results that are largely based on the political, social, and moral predilections of judges. In short, it has little to do with the attainment of justice which was expected by both camps of the apostasy argument.

We cannot really say why Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff dismissed her appeal. To me, analyzing the basis of the judgment is unhelpful. Anybody armed with a law degree can cook up proper justification for any legal decision. What more judges who have the benefit of legal submissions from counsels and research by their registrars (although the registrars could probably do better than that “whim and fancy” argument). Who knows why the Muslim judges decided in that manner? It could be out of their own religious convictions. Maybe they sought to avoid civil unrest (somebody pointed out that it is less likely for Christians to riot than Muslims in Malaysia). Maybe they wanted to serve their political masters, if any. For all you know, they may have eaten something bad for breakfast.

I don’t want to comment on whether this is the right or wrong way to go about it, but that’s the way it is. It would be na├»ve to think that the courts in our Malaysia would decide on something as politically charged as the Lina Joy case based on the simple notion of justice.

What is really heartbreaking is how we are torn apart by this. Despite the endorsement of the highest court in the land, Lina Joy won’t be the last Muslim apostate in Malaysia, I'm sure. The ignorance, paranoia and bigotry revealed through the postings and comments that have been up since yesterday are frankly quite disturbing. Yesterday, the Global Peace Index was announced and we are put at No. 37 on the ranking of the world’s peaceful countries. Today, I’m not so sure.

Tell me again. Who won?


Blabarella said...

Looks like nobody won, Mr I. If we want to look at this two-dimensionally, then Muslims in Malaysia should be rejoicing (or be relieved) at the outcome, and yet, as a Muslim, I don't feel that way. On the flip side, persons of other faiths will view this decision as nothing more than a clear affirmation of their worst fears on 'religious freedom' in Malaysia.

As you rightly pointed out, Lina Joy will not be (and most certainly is not) the last Muslim apostate in Malaysia. Nothing new there, and it happens all over the world. We learn that there is no compulsion in religion - and yet, the way we handle these issues in Malaysia really makes me wonder.

Where do we draw the line between justice and faith? In the first place, can we even draw the line in Malaysia?

The complex structure upon which Malaysia is built and managed is what is causing all this discord. We pride ourselves as a multi-racial and multi-religious society, and yet our bickering all these years simply shows the failure of our interaction and understanding.

I didn't know what to expect from the Federal Court (except the obvious decision, obviously), but I was hoping that, by being the apex court of the land, our esteemed judges would have taken judicial notice of the cultural and religious landscape of Malaysia, and how things are no longer as they were before.

Like it or not, the world has changed, and pressing questions such as apostasy and religious freedom will simply continue to be raised in this country until it all comes to a head. Lina Joy's case was supposed to produce 'something' to put it all to and end.

I suppose it did, but sadly, not in a way which will see greater resolution and settlement of similar cases in future.

Malaysia is now heading into choppy waters, and unfortunately, too large a segment of our society are either oblivious or unbothered by it all.

This is what happens when you use religion as a cloak, because in the end - who gets a bad name? Islam.

And that should not have happened because the religion is very clear on this subject.

My, I certainly rambled my head off, didn't I? :p

sic6sense said...

one of the better 'obligatory Lina Joy's post'.

izso said...

Actually, I don't see what the whole fuss is about. Lina was born a muslim, raised a muslim but found peace with another religion. Who can we blame for that? Not Islam, I personally blame bad upbringing!

Anyway, she shouldn't have highlighted herself like this. Now everyone in M'sia is going to be so aware of her and all that. If she wants to celebrate Christmas instead of Raya and not puasa, she should've kept the whole hoo-ha quiet and do what she felt most comfortable with. Now that's in the spotlight, she'll never escape.

Anyway, that's my opinion and mine only.

UglyButAdorable said...

something to ponder about...

Mr Incognito said...

Blabarella >>> "The complex structure upon which Malaysia is built and managed is what is causing all this discord." Yes. It's frustrating when foreigners pass judgment on us without knowing the context of our social fabric. It doesn't help when even the BBC get their facts wrong. Consider this BBC report: "Sharia courts decide on civil cases involving Malaysian Muslims - nearly 60% of the country's 26 million people - while ethnic minorities such as Chinese and Indians are governed by civil courts in the multi-racial country." First time I've heard of that.

sic6sense >>> thanks. just thinking out loud.

izso >>> but she wanted to get married to a non-Muslim. she had to get her status changed. I wonder how the Syariah court would decide now about her conversion. Even Pak Lah said, "What is the point of keeping a person a Muslim if they no longer believed in the faith and made that publicly known?" That's the next chapter in the saga if she wants to take it that far.

UglyButAdorable >>> actually lots of things to ponder about here.

Mr Hobo said...

article 146 in the constitution stated that Malay = Muslim.

So in order for Lina Joy to convert is to change her race into something else ... say ... Negrito or Samoan or batak ka ... if that happens boleh dak she change and become a christian?

ni legal point of view lah ....

Edroos said...

I agree with what Pak Lah said. I believe there is no use at all to keep her as a Muslim fact that she denounced her faith in it. But honestly why would anyone still insist that she stay true to the religion that she no longer have faith in?

She chose the path then let her be. Whether it;s the right or wrong path she will find out when the time comes.

Mr Incognito said...

Mr Hobo >>> you try lah change to samoa tengok boleh tak. make sure u have a rugby shirt on when u go to

Edroos >>> we should get more views from Malay Singaporeans. I'm sure u guys can give provide honest views since u don't have a stake in it.

pugly said...

My knowledge in Islam may not be much, but the one thing I know for sure is that there is no force in the religion.

Yet we live in a culturally-sensitive environment. Muslims in Malaysia are generally exceedingly sensitive over a lot of things - some are rational, some don't make sense at all. I think the courts find it easier to come up with such a decision than face a national furore that is bound to follow should they decide otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Someone remarked her name should now be changed to 'Lina No Joy', hahaha. Want publicity? You got it, but not free lah. I can do nothing now but laugh at her face.

Theta said...

Mr. Incognito,
I'm pretty sure now that you're an advocate of some sort, judging from your legal jargons and expertise on this subject. :)

Yes, this case leaves a bad taste in my mouth....

izso said...

Pak Lah actually said that? I gotta read up on my news! Hmm.. I agree - if you don't believe or practise it, don't bother to force it onto that person. Pretty much like me and Christianity.

Anyway, your comments from Muslim Sinaporeans I can answer - they can do whatever they bloody please. If they choose to follow strictly and adhere to Muslim culture in Singapore then they do. Halal restaurants are hard to come by in Singapore btw. Even Mcd's is non-halal. But the Muslim Singaporeans I know don't choose to eat non-halal foodstuffs and just eat other things, without any care of whether the restaurant is halal or not. And so far all the muslims I know are still muslims. But they are freely marrying other religions without the need to convert both parties to either religions (the one I know is dual - Muslim and Christian). Which is pretty cool actually, they celebrate Raya and Xmas (and puasa too even though she doesn't technically "need" to). It's quite open and amazingly tolerated there. Which is good in my humble opinion

Mr Incognito said...

pugly >>> it's just hard trying to please everybody

Anonymous >>> future apostates should just choose a non-descript english surname like "smith" to avoid stupid puns

Theta >>> amazing what jargon and expertise you can pick up from wikipedia

izso >>> at least we know singaporean muslims practise the religion without compulsion

Anonymous said...

Actually there are lots of Halal restaurants in Singapore now. Even McD's, KFC, etc are halal now, for quite some time already.

I never found a problem eating in Singapore.

moby said...

I thought there is no coercion in Islam. I think this whole issue should not have occurred had she been free to decide whichever path she wants to lead in her life.

Edroos said...

Er izso...

You can actually find A LOT of halal restaurants in Singapore. McD, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John SIlvers', Burger King are amongst the list of HALAL fast food rests. ANd you can find them almost everywhere arund the lil' island. And most of us do care about eating non-halal food. Yes there are a handful of those who are involved in inter-religious marriages but it is not recognised by our registry of muslim marriages. ANd unfortunately it's not really tolerated as you put it, just that no one has the power or the ability to say anything about it.

Anonymous said...

According to my friend: 'The ruling simply says that the matter should be decided by Syariah court, NOT that Lina Joy can't convert. If she really wants to convert, she shd go to Syariah court & they'll decide.
If I'm not mistaken, she doesn't want to go to Syariah court (indirectly not recognising the power of Syariah court over her).
It's not a matter whether she can or cannot convert. It is a matter whether the Federal Court has power over such issue. And they have correctly decided that they do not.'


miss legally blonde said...

aiyooo...tooo legal and political for me to comment this entry la...but as usual I will just make my mark here...:P (oooh...i am very sceptical about the survey....he!he!he!)

akula said...

mlb: yeah me too lah. Just so Mr Incognito knows that I read his writings.

Saffron said...

If i were me I would've left the country to pursue my future, so I have to salute Lina Joy for her faith (-_-) and preserverance in pursuing her justice.

I don't see the point of compulsion in religion, I really don't. Why fight to keep the body when you can't keep the soul?

PS: Mr Incognito, how did you find my blog? I didn't advertise :p

NinJaMoo said...

Why isn't Islam a religion of choice in Malaysia? Just like all other religions - why can't Malays in Malaysia choose which religion they'd like to practise? Is it because the govt is afraid that if this freedom of choice is practised that Malaysia will no longer be a 'Muslim country'? Could it be that that means they can no longer blame women for vice (tunjuk aurat and all that stuff)?

Lil' Miss Easydent said...

No. 37 on the ranking of the world’s peaceful countries? they must be joking. Or rating it from a distance. Below the surface, i think malaysia is in a turmoil.

Mr Incognito said...

Anonymous (& Edroos) >>> it's a question of common-sense isn't it. More people that can eat your food, the more profits.

moby >>> read Adek's comments below.

Adek >>> let's see what the Syariah court will do now

miss legally blonde >>> u think we are worse or better?

akula >>> i read yours too, bro

Saffron >>> i think i found your blog while doing some research on Malaysian drivers for a prevous posting

NinJaMoo >>> it's all politics. if this "safeguard" goes, guess who will exploit this issue and get swept into power?

Lil' Miss Easydent >>> exactly. but my blog is the most peaceful blog around don't you think? peace....

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