Promoting an understanding of Islam that recognises the principles of
justice, equality, freedom, and dignity within a democratic nation state

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‘Secret Colours of Malaysia’, a colouring book featuring scenery, flora, fauna and cultural items from all corners of the country, has been published by Editions Didier Millet (EDM) and is being sold exclusively through Borders Bookstore until 23 April, and thereafter at all major bookstores, for RM39.90.

Based on an idea by colouring-book-enthusiast Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, EDM put together this 80-page book of detailed black-and-white drawings of the country’s tropical rainforest, animals such as the tiger and hornbill, traditional costumes and textiles, landscapes, architecture and everyday items such as the ais kacang machine. The pen-and-ink drawings were lovingly hand-drawn by four young artists, Ixora Kay Cross, Koh Qi Ning, Safra Zahirah Rosli and Safra Zuhairah Rosli.

“It’s about time that Malaysia had its own special colouring book to help dispel the gloom – even in a small way – and showcase the many treasures of this wonderful country,” said EDM’s editorial director and long-time Malaysian resident, Martin Cross.

“We are excited with this project and consider ourselves privileged to be able to play some part in it. It is a wonderful way to bring together Malaysians in appreciating our country and a novel way to show the world how truly diverse Malaysia is,” said BERJAYA Corporation Director of Business Development, Hishammudin Hasan.

On the occasion of the launch of Secret Colours of Malaysia, a unique fundraising event has been organised to benefit Sisters in Islam (SIS), which advocates for justice and equality for Muslim women. 16 well-known artists and celebrities have contributed their own take on the drawings in the book and these will be auctioned at ILHAM Gallery.

The artists are Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Jailani Abu Hassan, Chang Fee Ming, Kow Leong Kiang, Anurendra Jegadeva, Azliza Ayob, Chong Siew Ying, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Chin Kon Yit, Siow Yin Yoong, Nini Marini and Yvonne Ou Yang while the celebrities are Joe Flizzow, Sonaone, Sharifah Amani and Daphne Iking. The fundraising event is expected to raise approximately RM50 000, which will greatly help SIS in its advocacy work and helping women obtain justice.

“We are thrilled to team up with EDM and Borders Malaysia on this project. The various participating artists and celebrities have been very enthusiastic about contributing their works and we are very grateful to them,” SIS’ fundraising chair Marina said. “This is an opportunity to own a unique work of art by some of Malaysia’s best artists and also contribute to a good cause,” she added.

Bids for the art pieces start at RM500 for celebrity pieces and RM1000 for artist pieces.

SIS would also like to thank ILHAM Gallery and Dennis Chan from Wai Khuan Framers, for their kind support.

Sisters in Islam
23 April 2016

Abuse of Authority by JAWI Must End (6 April 2016)
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The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is appalled by the latest news of a raid by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) of a private charity fundraising event by a transgender community and the unlawful arrest of the event organizer, Ira Sophia. The raid is another addition to the long list of abuses of power and violation of procedure by JAWI in their overzealous moral policing.

The gist of the offences mentioned by the JAWI officers against Ira Sophia, call for an immediate review of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (SCOA) and the questioning of ethical standards of JAWI enforcement officers. Accusing individuals of being in contempt or defiance of religious authorities for merely standing up for their rights as enshrined in the Constitution, is unconstitutional and unjust.

Moral policing laws have no place in Malaysia as it disrespects a citizen’s right to privacy and has been selectively enforced, often on marginalised groups. It is completely unclear whether JAWI has the authority and power to conduct raids, disallow people from leaving a venue, and taking persons into their custody.  We are extremely concerned as these are powers akin to police powers.  When enforcement powers such as these are provided to authorities, they must be properly regulated and specifically provided for under specific laws, as they impinge upon a person's civil liberties.  Where are the laws that regulate JAWI in conducting these activities?

The practice of moral policing also goes against the teachings of Islam which respect one’s right to privacy and preservation of dignity. Various verses in the Quran reflect this, such as in Surah al-Hujurat (49:12), “do not pry into others secrets” and Surah an-Nisa (4:58), “when you judge among the people, do so equitably.”

JAWI’s actions are clearly un-Islamic as it was aimed to intimidate and humiliate the transgender community in Malaysia. JAG once again, calls on the state to review the SCOA as the catch-all provisions in the Act have allowed for wide interpretation and abuse by enforcement officers. JAWI or other state religious authorities cannot be allowed to continuously undermine the Federal Constitution because of the misguided perception that they are guardians of Islam and morality in Malaysia.

6 April 2016
Endorsed by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG):

Sisters in Islam (SIS)
Justice for Sisters (JFS)
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
5. Tenaganita
Perak Women for Women (PWW)
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
9. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir recipient of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
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Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir recipient of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, the vocal columnist and human rights defender today received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight in the Legion of Honour) from the Government of France.

She was conferred the prestigious award by the French ambassador H.E Christophe Penot, in a special ceremony held at his residence in Kuala Lumpur.

Marina, 58, well-known for her forthrightness and candour in expressing her views in both mainstream and social media is one of only eight Malaysians who have received the award. She is also the second recipient from Sisters in Islam (SIS) to receive this honour, the first being Zainah Anwar, co-founder of SIS.

Marina expressed her gratitude in receiving the award which recognized human rights defenders in Malaysia. “I am very honoured that the French government recognizes the work of women human rights defenders in Malaysia because they are often under-appreciated,” she said. 

Sisters in Islam congratulates Marina, a former board member of SIS, for this achievement as recognition of her contribution to social and political activism in Malaysia. Marina is widely known for her work in spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS in Malaysia since the ‘90s when she was president of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC).

She has also been a staunch defender of gender equality and has lent her voice to the cause of justice for Muslim women. Her work in this area extends beyond Malaysia in her role as a member of the International Advisory Group of Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.

Marina’s influence on human rights activism is well recognized even internationally, when she was named Malaysian of the Year in 2010, by the United Nations (UN) in Malaysia and was one of the only two Malaysians named by Women Deliver as one of the 100 Most Influential People working for Women and Girls. She was also recently appointed a member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement, and Protection.

In the present climate where there appears to be a rift along the lines of religion and ethnicity, Marina reminds us all that we are united in our humanity. Through her writings, she speaks for the marginalised, disempowered and persecuted.
Marina who has indeed followed in the footsteps of her father, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is an inspiration to all Malaysians.

Some of the other Malaysian recipients of the Légion d’Honneur include Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, the former Yang DiPertuan Agong and reigning Sultan of Terengganu and Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, the internationally acclaimed actress.

The conferment of the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur to Marina could not be timelier as it serves to remind all Malaysians that they can all be agents for change. We at SIS are proud to have Datin Paduka Marina in the SIS family, fighting together for justice and equality.

Sisters in Islam
30 March 2016
Press Statement: Sarawak High Court judgment defends Freedom of Religion in Malaysia (28 March 2016)
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Press Statement: Sarawak High Court judgment defends Freedom of Religion in Malaysia

Sisters in Islam (SIS) applauds the decision by judge Datuk Yew Jen Kie declaring Roneey Rebit a Christian and ordering the National Registration Department (NRD) to change his religion from Islam to Christianity on his identity card. This judgment reaffirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which under Article 11 defends every Malaysian citizen’s right to freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is a right of every citizen of Malaysia and enshrined in our Constitution. As such, it is our duty to honour these rights equally and fairly, without regard to race or religion.  Where our legal system provides for the right of conversion, it should not be the case that in reality the practice of these rights are denied, or made nearly impossible, to certain religions or race.

Protecting the sanctity of our Constitution and the law, and acting in the interest of our country and its people, do not conflict with the principles of Islam as Islam is a religion of compassion and tolerance. The Qur’an is clear and consistent in its recognition of the freedom of religion. Surah al-Baqarah (2:256), “Let there be no compulsion in religion” has been widely interpreted to mean that no one can be compelled to embrace Islam.

Surah an-Nisa (4:137), which reads, “Indeed, those who have believed then disbelieved, then believed, then disbelieved, and then increased in disbelief - never will Allah forgive them, nor will He guide them to a way,” shows Islam’s acceptance of freedom of religion with no punishment mentioned for anyone converting out of Islam.

SIS welcomes the judgment by Datuk Yew Jen Kie allowing Rooney Rebit to change his religion from Islam to Christianity, because faith cannot be imposed through enforcement. Instead, faith is contingent upon free will. Islam itself means submission to the will of God – not the will of men. This judgment is a reminder to all Malaysians of their right to practice their faith without coercion from the state.

Sisters in Islam
28 March 2016
Menuntut cerai melalui fasakh
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Soalan dipetik daripada MyMetro:

Saya sudah berkahwin selama 15 tahun dan bergelar isteri kedua. Saya ingin menuntut fasakh kerana perangai suami yang sering memukul saya setiap kali berlaku pertengkaran.

Saya juga menanggung nafkah zahir selama perkahwinan ini termasuk kos bersalin empat anak, yuran sekolah malah persiapan hari raya. Suami cuma lepas tangan dalam tanggungjawab ini.
Meskipun dia mempunyai tiga anak dengan isteri pertama, ia bukan lesen kepada dia untuk menafikan hak anak saya.

Masalahnya perkahwinan ini dilakukan di Thailand dan tidak didaftarkan di Malaysia. Apakah proses untuk saya membatalkan perkahwinan ini?

Bagi saya, perkahwinan ini adalah seksaan fizikal dan mental sedangkan suami seharusnya melaksanakan tanggungjawab sebagai ketua keluarga. Saya perlu menyelesaikan masalah ini mengikut undang-undang supaya kepentingan anak pada masa depan terpelihara.

Kuala Lumpur


Assalamualaikum Puan Lina,

Merujuk kepada persoalan Puan, sebelum Puan boleh memfailkan perceraian di Mahkamah, terlebih dahulu Puan perlu mengesahkan dan mendaftarkan perkahwinan tersebut supaya diiktiraf sebagai pasangan yang telah berkahwin di bawah undang-undang Syariah di Malaysia. Ini juga bermaksud agar Puan boleh menuntut hak-hak Puan sebagai isteri, dan juga anak-anak yang lahir daripada perkahwinan tersebut.

Perkahwinan Tidak Berdaftar

Memang benar ada kalanya perkahwinan yang dilakukan di Thailand atau sempadannya, boleh jadi tidak sah oleh kerana sindiket, atas alasan ia tidak mematuhi rukun-rukun perkahwinan seperti yang dituntut oleh Hukum Syarak. Untuk mengetahui sama ada akad nikah tersebut saha atau sebaliknya, hanya Mahkamah Syariah yang mempunyai bidangkuasa tersebut. Oleh itu kami nasihatkan agar Puan ke Mahkamah Syariah berhampiran tempat tinggal Puan dan membuat permohonan pengesahan pernikahan. Mahkamah Syariah akan membuat siasatan berdasarkan bukti-bukti yang dibawa sama ada perkahwinan tersebut adalah sah menurut Hukum Syarak. Apabila Mahkamah menentukan bahawa ianya sah, maka seterusnya Puan boleh terus memfailkan fasakh di Mahkamah Syariah.

Perceraian Secara Fasakh

Fasakh merupakan salah satu hak seorang wanita untuk menuntut perceraian melalui permohonan kepada Mahkamah untuk membubarkan perkahwinan tersebut. Ini bukan sahaja termaktub di dalam Hukum Syarak, bahkan undang-undang keluarga Islam di Malaysia.

Fasakh nikah disyariatkan untuk membendung mudarat yang menimpa ke atas isteri. Dalam situasi Puan, Puan mendakwa bahawa Puan seringkali dikasari, bahkan nafkah yang sewajarnya jadi tanggungjawab bapa/suami diabaikan, mengakibatkan mudarat kepada Puan dan juga anak-anak. 

Bagi mereka yang bermastautin di Wilayah Persekutuan, Akta Undang-undang Keluarga Islam (Wilayah-wilayah Persekutuan) 1984 adalah dirujuk, dan fasakh diperuntukkan di bawah seksyen 52(1). Di bawah seksyen tersebut, terdapat pelbagai alasan-alasan yang boleh dijadikan asbab kepada permohonan perceraian fasakh itu. Berdasarkan kepada situasi Puan, antara alasan-alasan yang bersangkut-paut adalah:

(b) bahawa suami telah cuai atau telah tidak mengadakan peruntukan bagi nafkahnya selama tempoh tiga bulan;
(h) bahawa suami menganiayainya, iaitu, antara lain—
(i) lazim menyakiti atau menjadikan kehidupannya menderita disebabkan oleh kelakuan aniaya;
(vi) jika dia mempunyai isteri lebih daripada seorang, dia tidak melayani isteri yang berkenaan secara adil mengikut kehendak Hukum Syarak;

Maka, daripada alasan-alasan tersebut, Puan layak mengemukakannya dengan memberi bukti yang sesuai bagi menguatkan dakwaan di Mahkamah. Seandainya Mahkamah yakin dan mendapati bahawa tuntutan Puan adalah benar, maka Mahkamah akan membubarkan perkahwinan tersebut tanpa persetujuan suami atau kehadirannya di Mahkamah.

Apabila Puan memfailkan perceraian fasakh di Mahkamah kelak, kami mencadangkan agar Puan turut menuntut beberapa perkara termasuklah nafkah iddah, nafkah isteri, nafkah isteri tertunggak, nafkah anak-anak, hak penjagaan, harta sepencarian dan sebagainya.

Perbuatan Memukul Isteri

Sesungguhnya Islam amat melarang perbuatan menzalimi wanita sebagaimana firman Allah SWT di dalam sebahagian surah al-Baqarah ayat 231 yang bermaksud:

“….dan janganlah kalian pegang mereka (isteri) dengan maksud memberi mudarat kerana kami hendak melakukan kezaliman terhadap mereka….”

Sebagaimana yang Puan nyatakan, untuk makluman, sebarang perbuatan memukul atau mendera isteri sama ada secara fizikal, mental, psikologi, kewangan, dan sosial adalah satu kesalahan di bawah Akta Keganasan Rumahtangga 1994 yang mana suami boleh dijatuhkan hukuman penjara jika didapati telah mencederakan isteri.

Jika Puan ada membuat laporan polis dan juga mendapatkan laporan di hospital, ia bukan sahaja boleh menjadi bukti bagi kes fasakh Puan, malah Puan boleh menggunakannya untuk mendapatkan IPO (Perintah Perlindungan Sementara). Perintah tersebut akan menghalang suami daripada terus mendekati dan mengasari Puan, sehingga siasatan jenayah terhadapnya selesai dijalankan.

Perbuatan Suami yang Tidak Bertanggungjawab

Berpoligami bukanlah satu alasan yang boleh dipergunakan untuk mengabaikan tanggungjawab sebagai seorang suami dan juga bapa. Seseorang suami yang telah gagal memenuhi tanggungjawabnya terhadap isteri menurut Hukum Syarak adalah berbuat dosa dan nusyuz. Jika isterinya tidak redha maka isteri berhak untuk memohon cerai.

Isteri dan anak-anak merupakan satu tanggungjawab yang telah diamanahkan oleh Allah SWT. Dia berhak mendapat perlindungan serta keperluan hidup dan nafkah yang mencukupi daripada suaminya. Ini dapat dilihat dengan jelas melalui hadith yang diriwayatkan oleh Bukhari dan Ashaba Al-Sunan yang bermaksud:

Hindun, isteri Abu Sufian telah mengadu kepada Rasulullah bahawa suaminya tidak memberi nafkah yang cukup kepadanya dan anak-anaknya. Lalu Rasulullah memerintahkan Hindun mengambil dari harta Abu Sufian bahagian untuk nafkahnya dan anak-anaknya dengan sebaik-baiknya.

Berdasarkan hadis ini jelaslah bahawa suami wajib menyediakan nafkah terhadap isteri dan jika suami enggan dengan sengaja, cuai ataupun nafkah yang diberi tidak mencukupi maka seorang isteri berhak mengambil harta suaminya sebagai nafkah buat isteri dan anak-anaknya.

Diharap penjelasan kami dapat membantu Puan. Sekiranya puan mempunyai sebarang kemusykilan atau pertanyaan, puan boleh menghubungi kami semula di talian Telenisa 03-7690 8802 pada setiap hari Selasa, Rabu dan Khamis dari jam 10.00 pagi – 5.00 petang. Sekian.

Klinik Telenisa
Sisters In Islam
Sinar Harian: Seksyen 66A Tidak Beri Kesan Terhadap Semakan Kehakiman (9 Mac 2016)
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KUALA LUMPUR - Kedua-dua pihak dalam permohonan semakan kehakiman Sisters In Islam (SIS) untuk mencabar fatwa Selangor melabelkan pertubuhan itu sebagai "sesat dan menyeleweng", bersetuju bahawa pindaan Seksyen 66A Enakmen Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Negeri Selangor) 2003 tidak memberi kesan dalam kes itu. Seksyen itu yang berkuat kuasa pada 22 Mei, 2015, memberi kuasa kepada Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah di Selangor untuk mendengar permohonan semakan kehakiman.

Peguam Majdah Muda, mewakili Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (Mais), memberitahu pemberita, kedua-dua pihak bersetuju bahawa Seksyen 66A tidak relevan dan tidak terpakai bagi kes itu kerana seksyen itu berkuat kuasa dari 22 Mei 2015, tetapi permohonan semakan kehakiman itu difailkan pada 31 Okt 2014.

"Dengan perkembangan ini, mahkamah menetapkan 24 Jun untuk mendengar permohonan semakan kehakiman itu dan lima isu akan dibangkitkan semasa pendengaran termasuk sama ada fatwa itu bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan," katanya selepas berjumpa Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Datuk Hanipah Farikullah di dalam kamar hari ini.

Peguam A. Surendra yang mewakili SIS dan pengasasnya Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar serta bekas Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim turut hadir  pada prosiding itu. SIS pada 24 Februari 2016, telah membangkitkan isu sama ada Seksyen 66A mempunyai sebarang kesan terhadap permohonannya bagi semakan kehakiman dan hari ini kedua-dua pihak bersetuju ia tidak memberi kesan dalam kes itu.

Pada 10 Disember 2014, SIS, Zainah dan Mohd Zaid memperoleh kebenaran daripada Mahkamah Tinggi untuk memulakan semakan kehakiman itu.
SIS Forum (Malaysia) telah memfailkan permohonan semakan kehakiman untuk mencabar keputusan Mais mengisytiharkan pertubuhan itu sebagai sesat dan menyeleweng daripada ajaran Islam dan menamakan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Selangor, Mais dan kerajaan Selangor sebagai responden.

Mereka memohon perintah certiorari untuk membatalkan keputusan Jawatankusa Fatwa Selangor dan MAIS yang menyatakan pertubuhan itu dan mana-mana individu serta kumpulan yang berpegang dengan fahaman liberalisme dan pluralisme agama sebagai 'sesat dan menyeleweng daripada ajaran Islam".

Pihak pemohon juga memohon pengisytiharan bahawa keputusan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Selangor dan Mais, melalui fatwa itu, yang mengarahkan sekatan dibuat ke atas laman-laman sosial yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam adalah bercanggah dengan Seksyen 3 (3) Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998.

Mereka antara lain memohon pengisytiharan iaitu keputusan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Selangor dan MAIS adalah ultra vires (melampaui batasan undang-undang) Perkara  10, 11, 74 dan Jadual Kesembilan Senarai I dan II Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
Mereka juga memohon pengisytiharan bahawa SIS, ditubuhkan di bawah Akta Syarikat 1965 sebagai sebuah syarikat berhad secara jaminan, tidak tertakluk kepada keputusan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Selangor dan Mais.
Bernama: Section 66A Has No Effect on SIS Judicial Review (9 March 2016)
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KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 (Bernama) -- Both parties in the Sisters In Islam (SIS) judicial review application to challenge a Selangor fatwa (edict) labelling the society as "deviant", have agreed that the newly amended Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 has no effect on the case.

The section, which came into force on May 22, 2015, empowers the Syariah High Court in Selangor to hear judicial review applications.

Lawyer Majdah Muda, representing the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), told reporters that both parties agreed Section 66A had no relevancy and not applicable for this case as the section was effective from May 22, 2015, but the judicial review was filed on Oct 31, 2014.

"With this development, the court fixed June 24 to hear the judicial review application and five issues will be raised during the hearing including whether the fatwa contravenes the Federal Constitution," she said after meeting High Court Judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah in chambers today.

Lawyer A. Surendra, acting for SIS and its founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar and former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, was also present during the proceedings.

SIS had on Feb 24, 2016, raised the issue whether the Section 66A had any impact on its judicial review application and today both parties agreed that the section had no effect on the case.

On Dec 10, 2014, SIS, Zainah and Mohd Zaid obtained leave from the High Court to commence the judicial review.

SIS Forum (Malaysia) had filed the judicial review to challenge MAIS decision declaring the organisation as deviating from Islamic teachings and named the Selangor Fatwa Committee, MAIS and the Selangor government as respondents.

They are seeking a certiorari order to quash the decision of the Selangor Fatwa Committee and MAIS which stated that the organisation and any individuals as well as groups which adopt the deviant ideologies of liberalism and pluralism were deviating from the teachings of Islam.

The applicants are also seeking a declaration that the decision of the Selangor Fatwa Committee and MAIS in directing, through the edict, the Multimedia and Communications Commission to block social websites that went against Islamic teachings contradicted Section 3 (3) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

They, among others, applied for a declaration that the decision of the Selangor Fatwa Committee and MAIS was ultra vires Article 10, 11, 74 and the Ninth Schedule List I and II of the Federal Constitution.

They are also seeking a declaration that SIS, which was formed under the Companies Act 1965 as a company limited by guarantee, was not subject to the decisions of the Selangor Fatwa Committee and MAIS.
The Malay Mail Online : Single mothers’ group seeks government review of RM720 poverty line (8 March 2016)
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KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 ― Jaringan Rakan Ibu Tunggal urged the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry today to review the poverty line income to reflect the increased costs of living.

The group's coordinator, Veronica Anne Retnam, said that the ministry's offer of aid to those with monthly household income of RM720 was “unrealistic”, especially for single mothers living in urban areas as some may need to spend as much as RM1,725 to feed their family of three to five.“This is simply not reflective of the current cost of living.

If a single mother has about five kids, the amount they spent on grocery, school fees, rents... all this can be around RM1,725.“We need to look at increasing the poverty line to RM1,500. Besides, how much can a family survive with RM720 monthly these days?” the former lecturer told a news conference at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here.

She further asserted that a family would have to spend around RM375 for grocery and the cost was for basic necessities such as rice and milk powder. She added that the group will continue to approach the ministry and other government agencies to ensure they are serious in helping out single mothers in the country.

On February 2015, Malay paper Utusan Malaysia reported the group handing a memorandum to the ministry and requested several ways to help single mothers, including increasing the current figure for poverty line income.

Among other suggestions in the memorandum were to provide vouchers for food, rents and school items.

They also requested for counselling services in residential areas and free transportation for the single mothers.

On February this year, the ministry replied that one of their criteria to provide assistance was that the household monthly income needed to be lower than RM720.

The ministry also promised to collaborate with other ministries to fulfil the group's requests in the memorandum.
The Malay Mail Online: In SIS’s challenge of ‘deviant’ fatwa, Shariah courts’ powers under scrutiny (24 February 2016)
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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Amid Sisters in Islam’s (SIS) challenge against a Selangor fatwa labelling it deviant, the Muslim advocacy group has now asked the civil courts to scrutinise the impact of a new law granting Shariah courts the power to hear judicial reviews.

Lawyer Yusfarizal Yussoff, who represented the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), said SIS had raised its concern today over the newly-gazetted provision.

“Of course we have no problem with that, we will check the relevance of Section 66A and what is the impact on the case,” he told reporters after a meeting with the judge and lawyers of the parties involved.

Section 66A in the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 revolves around the Shariah High Court’s jurisdiction to grant leave and hear judicial review applications against decisions by MAIS and committees acting under this state law.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah has fixed March 9 for case management, where lawyers are expected to provide him with details on Section 66A’s gazette and effective dates.

Yusfarizal said today, however, that MAIS’s stand will be unaffected regardless of Section 66A, arguing that the Shariah courts should be the place to decide issues related to fatwa or religious edicts.

“But ultimately we maintain our stand that this court - the civil court - has no jurisdiction on the issue of fatwa, because fatwa is a subject matter based on hukum Syarak (Islamic law) and Islamic law falls exclusively under jurisdiction of the Shariah court,” he told reporters.

Majdah Muda, another lawyer acting for MAIS, said there were other methods to challenge a fatwa, which she said could include it being “modified, amended, varied or struck off” by another Fatwa Committee.

Rozana Isa, SIS executive director, said the significance of the matter raised is whether Section 66A “can be applied retrospectively”, noting that the legal provision came about after the group filed its judicial review bid.

“We started a procedure with the civil court. For us, this is where we want to do the judicial review - in the civil court,” she told reporters.

On October 31, 2014, SIS filed for a judicial review of a gazetted fatwa in Selangor that declared the group as “deviants” in Islam due to their alleged religious liberalism and pluralism.

The fatwa also deemed any publications with elements of liberalism and religious pluralism as “haram”, or forbidden to Muslims, and can be seized by religious authorities. It also sought for local Internet regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to monitor and block social media websites with content that was against Islam.

SIS Forum (Malaysia), the group’s co-founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim had named the Selangor Fatwa Committee, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and the state government as respondents in their application.

SIS Forum (Malaysia) is the company running SIS and its lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar had previously argued in court that it is a secular entity that falls outside of the Islamic judicial system.

On December 10, 2014, then Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad granted SIS leave for judicial review.

The hearing date for the judicial review has yet to be fixed.

See more at:
JAG Statement: Judge decision a Breach of Noorfadilla’s Constitutional Rights (19 February 2016)
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The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is deeply concerned with the judgement of the Shah Alam High Court recently, on damages awarded to Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin. We wish to highlight in particular, the huge reduction of damages made, and the harmful language and justifications used in the judgement passed on February 15th. The message being sent by this judgement is clear, discrimination on the basis of gender faced by Noorfadilla is not of concern to the state.

In this recent ruling, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azimah Omar criticised Noorfadilla for her lack of honesty in disclosing her pregnancy. The use of such language is harmful as it suggests that women must disclose their pregnancy during a job interview, which is not a requirement of Malaysian law, and implies that a woman’s ability to work effectively is inherently linked to her pregnancy status.

Pregnancy, or the desire to have children, bears no challenge on a woman’s ability to perform her job. It is unacceptable that women must disclose their intentions in regards to children to their employer. It is unacceptable that wanting children should be barrier to women’s economic empowerment. The state does not and should not have the power to take away the right and liberty of a woman to have children by requiring disclosure of pregnancy at job interviews. Any form of law requiring full disclosure of pregnancy is an implicit exertion of state power and control over a woman’s reproductive rights.

JAG is also concerned that the judge had accused Noorfadilla of using the court as a “conduit or instrument for profiteering.” Datuk Azimah commented that Noorfadilla, “Knowingly acted to garner the benefit to employment”, and would be unable to earn RM300,000 in ten years of work, inappropriately framing her as a benefiter of her circumstances rather than as a woman who has faced discrimination.

As a brief summary of the case, in 2008, Noorfadilla applied for a temporary teaching position in a government school. In 2009, she was offered and accepted the teaching job and was given a memo informing her of her placement. She was then asked whether she was pregnant, and after confirming so, the Ministry of Education Officer withdrew Noorfadilla’s placement memo. Noorfadilla filed an application in court to declare that the revocation of her appointment as a temporary teacher by the government owing to her pregnancy was unlawful, discriminatory and unconstitutional. High Court Judge Dato’ Zaleha binti Yusof’s judgement in 2011 stated that the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) “has the force of law and binding on members states, including Malaysia.”[1] That was the first time in Malaysian legal history that CEDAW was recognised in Malaysia and the court ruled the actions of government in this case to be in violation of Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution.

The treatment of Noorfadilla in this judgement, is a clear breach of Malaysia’s obligation under CEDAW, as recognised by the judgement of the High Court back in 2011. CEDAW ensures that employers may not dismiss employees on the grounds of pregnancy, and this High Court judgement has undermined Malaysia’s commitment and diluted what was an earlier ground-breaking judgement.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) comprises:

1. The All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
2. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
3. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
5. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
6. Sisters In Islam (SIS) 7. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
8. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)

19 February 2016

[1] Judge Dato’ Zaleha binti Yusof, In the High Court of Malaya at Shah Alam in the State of Selangor Darul Ehsan, Originating SummonsNo.: 21-248-2010 between Norfadilla binti Ahmad Saikin and Defendents, “Grounds of Judgement”, 12 July 2011, p12.
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