G25 finds formation of Jakim, National Council of Islamic Affairs unconstitutional

Danial Dzulkifly
Datuk Hishamudin Yunus said the formation of a federal Islamic institution is against the Constitution, which provides for matters concerning Islam under the jurisdiction of the states. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 ― The creation of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the National Council of Islamic Affairs (NCIA) is not provided for by the Federal Constitution, pro-moderate group G25 posited today.

G25 member and former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hishamudin Yunus said the formation of a federal Islamic institution is against the Constitution, which provides for matters concerning Islam under the jurisdiction of the states.

“The formation of Jakim is unconstitutional because of Islamic affairs under the purview of the states. There are no laws to establish Jakim.

“In fact, it was only established as an administrative decision. It was initially created to serve as a secretariat for the Conference of Malay Rulers, but it is now a giant with a huge budget,” he said during a panel discussion at the Universiti Malaya Alumni Clubhouse here.

G25 launched an extensive report dubbed the “Administration of Matter Pertaining to Islam” at the same venue this morning.

Other panellists included NGO Musawah's executive director Zainah Anwar and deputy chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia, Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil.

Jakim was formed in 1997 to act as a secretariat for the NCIA, which oversees Islamic development for the country.

The report launch was also followed by a panel discussion which consists of former court of appeal judge Datuk Hishamduin Yunus, Musawah's Executive Director Zainah Anwar and deputy chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil.

In the G25 report, the group whose members comprise former senior civil servants, also argued that the formation of NCIA is unconstitutional.

“The Federal Constitution does not empower either the Federal government or the Conference of Rulers to establish the National Council of Islamic Affairs. 

“Matters pertaining to the Muslim religion and Malay custom are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state legislature and the state executive councils,” said the report.

G25 founding member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said the group is not specifically advocating for Jakim’s abolishment however insist that it transforms into a much more structure body to improve the administration of Islam in the country.

“We are not saying that Jakim should be abolished but should it stay the same and remained as it is? Well, we are asking it to be more structured,” he said, adding further the need for the government to carry out an in depth review of Jakim and its constitutional status.

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