Mosque polls: King’s name being used, says don

By Hazlan Zakaria
Jun 18, 11 | MalaysiaKini

While the Agong has purview over Islamic matters in ruler-less states like Penang, renowned constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari fears that the Agong’s name is being used to criticise the Penang government’s policies.

“Only after Pakatan Rakyat took over Penang that suddenly the Agong became a significant figure.

“His name has been used to block any moves made by the state government,” the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer told Malaysiakini.

Abdul Aziz said that the proper procedure given by the provisions in the constitution is for the palace or the Agong’s private secretary to issue the statement pertaining to his position as head of religion, not any other party.

“Certainly not the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, who is part of the government of the day.

“So he should keep quiet. Let the Agong do the job himself as provided for under the constitution, independent of the government, be it federal or state,” argued the law professor.

He also hit out at what he said is the “nonsensical” claim of Malay rights group Perkasa that it is not right to elect mosque committees.

“For one thing, there is no fatwa saying that it is forbidden in Islam,” said Abdul Aziz.

Furthermore, the don pointed out that Muslims, in Umno, PAS and PKR, have all been taking part in party elections.

“If it is un-Islamic the fatwa council would have issued an edict on the matter,” concluded the legal expert.

Mosque elections put off

The Penang Islamic Affairs Council’s (MAIPP) plan to hold local elections for nearly 200 mosque committees in the state was put off after Penang governor Abdul Rahman Abbas and MAIPP head Ellias Zakaria met with the Agong in Istana Negara yesterday.

The annual general meetings of the mosques planned for today and tomorrow, was postponed until further notice.

The plan had came under fire from Umno, Perkasa and Jamil Khir (right) soon after it was made public.

While Umno and Perkasa invoked the Agong’s name in their protest, some like Abdul Aziz believe that they are just making use of the paramount ruler’s name for their own political ends.

However, as Aziz Bari confirmed, it is the Agong’s prerogative to be consulted on matters that touch on Islamic affairs in rulers-less states like Penang.

A prerogative that the paramount ruler had apparently exercised yesterday in ordering the mosque elections to be “withheld”.

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