Jakim critic Tawfik Ismail faces sedition probe

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Tawfik Ismail, son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, says recently Jakim is unconstitutional. He is now being investigated for sedition over the remark. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 24, 2015.

Police are investigating Tawfik Ismail, the son of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, for sedition over his remarks that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) should be abolished.

They initiated the probe after a police report was lodged in Shah Alam against Tawfik for the comments made in a The Malaysian Insider article on the Islamic agency, which is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Tawfik, who is also a member of G25, the group of retired Malay top civil servants, is being investigated under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948, which carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum jail term of three years, or both, for first-time offenders.

Police yesterday recorded statements from a news editor and a reporter at The Malaysian Insider to assist in the investigations.

The former Umno MP caused a stir in an interview earlier this month when he said Jakim should be abolished as the department had no role in the constitution.

He said Putrajaya should not dictate how Muslims practised their faith and that Jakim’s functions could be carried out by other ministries.

Tawfik also said the role of protecting Islam could be left to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, sultans, imams (Muslim scholars) and muftis.

His remarks drew support from Umno grassroots leader Zaharin Mohd Yasin and constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, both of whom agreed that Jakim was unconstitutional.

The two said the Federal Constitution stated that authority over Islam lay with the sultans and Agong, not the federal government.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also hit out at Jakim, saying that the Islamic agency imposed its own version of the religion on Muslims and that it could be abolished if the government was changed.

But Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said Jakim had become even more relevant today as it was involved in dealing with Shia and “liberal Islam” as well as threats from militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

In February, human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen was charged with sedition for allegedly criticising Jakim for spreading extremism via Friday sermons. – November 24, 2015.


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