AG's Chambers should file own application to challenge the hudud
laws gazetted by the Terengganu state government
by Karpal Singh
(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): I fully agree with the statement by Terengganu state executive councilor, Datuk Wan Abdul Muttalib Embong that the Attorney-Generalís Chambers should file its own application to challenge the hudud laws gazetted by the state government on 27 October.
Wan Abdul Muttalib has quite figuratively pointed out that chambers should not become a passenger to the proceedings filed by lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim against the State of Terengganu as it will no longer be gentlemanís fight. He correctly says the chambers should use its own vehicle instead of borrowing someone elseís.
The Terengganu Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Enactment is a law of far reaching consequences and implications for the country as a whole, I have no doubt in my mind that this draconian legislation is unconstitutional and not within the legislative competence of the Terengganu state assembly. It is the product of abuse of power by the PAS-led Terengganu state government. The fact that the Sultan of Terengganu has assented to the enactment does not make it a lawful as it is not made on the authority of a lawful or legal power.
The Federal Government should in the public interest, invoke the provisions of Article 130 of the Federal Constitution which provides, ďThe Yang di-Pertuan Agong may refer to the Federal Court for its opinion any question as to the effect of any provision of this constitution which has arisen or appears to him likely to arise, and the Federal Court shall pronounce in open court its opinion on any question referred to it.Ē
It is demeaning for the Attorney-General to take a piggy ride on Zaid Ibrahimís application which is only for leave to appeal before a single judge of the Federal Court.
Leave may well not be granted. Article 4(4) of the Constitution provides proceedings for a declaration that a state law is invalid on the ground the state assembly had no power to enact it, cannot be commenced without the leave of a judge of the Federal Court. Article 130, on the other hand, obliges the Federal Court to rule on the issue once it is referred to it by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Under Article 130, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acts on Cabinet advice. The Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Cabinet under the provisions of Article 145(2).
I call upon the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, under the circumstances, to forthwith advise the Cabinet to call upon the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to invoke his powers under Article 130 to refer to the Federal Court the issue as to whether the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Enactment is unconstitutional and not within the competence of the Terengganu state assembly to enact in the public interest, this issue should be decided authoritatively once and for all by a full bench of the Federal Court.
* Karpal Singh, DAP National Deputy Chairman