By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in penang on Friday, 2nd February 1990:
Wang Ah Hoong should withdraw his test case on Section 67 of the Selangor Islamic Administration Law Enactment from the Supreme Court and out MCA to the test that thise issue has been resolved in the “Barisan Nasional spirit”
Two news reports yesterday and today have again highlighted the unresolved Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment, which had deprived the fundamental right of parents to unfettered control, guardianship and custody of their children below 18 years of age, and their freedom to decide on their religion.
Yesterday, there was a report quoting an unnamed high-level MCA leader as saying that the MCA leadership was considering the various options as to the future of the eight Selangor MCA State Assemblymen.
The report said that 99 per cent of the MCA ground opposed the re-nomination of the eight Selangor MCA State Assemblymen in the next general elections if there is no satisfactory solution of the Selangor Islamic law Administration Enactment.
MCA Leadership has virtually admitted that the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment would not be amended at all
Although the MCA leadership intends to field these eight MCA Selangor Assemblymen in the next general elections, including contesting for Parliamentary seats, the strong MCA ground feelings have forced MCA leadership to consider the following options:
(i) Putting all the eight MCA Selangor Assemblymen in ‘cold storage’;
(ii) Field six of the Selangor MCA State Assemblymen in their original state seats and the two Executive Councillors in Parliamentary seats;
(iii) Field the six Selangor MCA State Assemblymen but drop the two Executive Councillors.
What is very significant about this report is that it indicates that the MCA leadership has virtually admitted that the Selangor Islamic Enactment would not be amended at all.
The MCA national leaders are going round the country not to tell the MCA branches that the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment would definitely be resolved, but to prepare the MCA ground for the prospect that the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment would not be amended and to discuss what the MCA should do with its eight Selangor State Assemblymen in the next general elections.
This means that the threat of the eight Selangor State Assemblymen to resign collectively on Dec. 15 last year if Sections 67 and 70 of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment were not amended was nothing but an empty farce. The eight MCA Selangor Assemblymen not only achieved nothing, but had to apologise to the national and state UMNO leaders and withdraw their post-dated letters of resignation in the most humiliating circumstances.
MCA first biggest political breach of trust in the 1990s
This also means that the proclamation by the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, that he had discussed the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and that the issue had been resolved in the “Barisan Nasional spirit” is empty, hollow and downright untrue.
The Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactments the MCA’s first biggest political breach of trust to the people of Malaysia, and in particular the Chinese community, in the 1990s.
This bring us to the second news item on the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment which appeared in all the newspapers today, the decision by the Shah Alam High Chourt to refer to the Supreme Court, the summons action by Petaling Jaya businessman Wang Ah Hoong, seeking to declare Section 67 of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment as void and unconstitutional.
Section 67 allows non-Muslims to embrace Islam at the age of majority in accordance with Syariah law, which could be 15 years for boys and as young as nine or ten years for girls, once they have reached puberty, without parental consent or knowledge.
I am openly suggesting that the PJ businessman, Wang Ah Hoong, and others behind his action, including his counsel, Yeoh Poh San, should withdraw the legal action altogether, even though it has now been referred by the Shah Alam High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Wan Yahya, to the Supreme Court for special consideration.
MCA leaders hoping the court case can save them
While I feel strongly that Section 67 of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment is unconstitutional, we must be mindful of the fact that there are others, including national and state UMNO leaders (and possibly some MCA leaders), who maintain equally strongly that Section 67 of the Enactment is lawful and constitutional.
When the test case on the constitutionality of Section 67 of the Enactment goes to the Supreme Court, either outcome is possible. For instance, when the Merdeka University case was taken to court, it was ruled unconstitutional, despite widely and strongly-held convictions that the establishment of the proposed Merdeka University was fully in conformity with the Constitutional provisions and guarantees.
This is why I feel strongly that at the present stage, it is premature to put Section 67 of the Enactment to the test in the courts. If the Supreme Court rules that Section 67 of the Enactment is lawful and constitutional, then the Barisan Nasional, and in particular the MCA leadership, would have the best excuse to claim that there was nothing they could do as the matter had been decided by the highest court in the land.
There is no doubt that many MCA national and state leaders are hoping that the Wang Ah Hoong summons case could save them in the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment issue.
The Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment issue must be resolved by holding the Barisan Nasional and MCA leaders to their promise that the matter had been resolved in the “Barisan Nasional spirit”.
The Selangor State Assembly should be meeting in the next few months. All Malaysians want to know whether Sections 67 and 70 of the Enactment would be amended in the next Assembly.
Wang Ah Hoong’s legal action should only be embarked upon as a last resort, when all other avenues to resolve the issue have been completely exhausted and failed.