Speakers' Corner: Occasional contributions from readers, which do not necessarily reflect the views of Sarawak Report but may be published at the discretion of the site.

Self Misdirection

Is not something that one expects from a former Chief Justice but we all grow older and, at times, forgetful. So we can excuse it if ex-Chief justice Fairul makes a constitutional slip. After all he is no longer on the Bench and his obiter are irrelevant.

Nevertheless his errors cannot, and have not, passed unremarked. In fact the Constitution is unequivocal on the matter of religion, as it should be having been drafted by experts in close consultation with the leading politicians of the day. The Tungku would no more have demanded that the new Malaysia was to be a theocratic State than he would have insisted on the Christian peoples of the Borneo States converting en masse to Islam. In any religion conversion is a matter of individual choice not force majeure.

It is a little difficult to understand how so senior a lawyer and Judge as Inche Fairul could have so publicly misdirected himself in this matter. Could it have been out of a religious enthusiasm blinding him to the law? Or some other, presently unknown, motivation? Perhaps His Lordship will enlighten us.

In any case it would be a pity if this, or any other legal luminary, should misdirect himself and seek wrongly to influence the continuing governance of Malaysia. Enough damage has been done in that regard by the arch criminal Najib Razak whose crude attempts to subvert religious feeling for political gain have already disgusted all right thinking followers of Islam.

Retired means retired and those in that condition should be mindful both of their personal reputations and the effect that ill-judged and inaccurate pronouncements may have on ordinary people who tend to respect what former exemplars may say. May we remind Inche Fairul of the saying that “discretion is the better part of valour” and that when one has nothing useful to say it is better to keep silent.

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