By Isabelle Leong | Malaysiakini

Several lawyers have lashed out at PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang for labelling judges as “wise” (bijaksini, as opposed to bijaksana) and whose “minds are influenced by colonial thinking”.

Lawyer New Sin Yew slammed Hadi (above), saying it was malicious and plain wrong for the latter to call the judges unwise for doing their constitutional duty.

“The judges took the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. And that was precisely what they did,” New told Malaysiakini.

This came after Hadi on Wed (Feb 14) lamented that Islamic countries were losing their integrity in maintaining colonial laws, despite the country achieving independence.

He said while it is stipulated in the Federal Constitution that Islam is the country’s official religion, other religions can be practised freely.

However, he claimed that many legislative amendments have since been made by neglecting Islamic interests.

Lawyer New Sin Yew

“We used to have wise judges like Mohamed Salleh Abas, and Harun Hashim.

“There are also those who are still alive, such as Mohamad Abdul Hamid, Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim, and others who used their wisdom to uphold and defend Islamic laws (while presiding over civil courts),” Hadi said in a statement.

“However, of late, we have judges who are bijaksini (unwise) and whose minds are influenced by colonial thinking.”

Although his statement did not provide context, it is believed that the Marang MP was referring to the Federal Court decision in which the bench of nine judges in an 8-1 majority decision allowed the petition by lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman to nullify 18 Kelantan syariah criminal provisions.

Judges duty-bound to interpret laws

The court ruled that Kelantan’s legislature exceeded its state-making power contained in the State List (List II) of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

However, the apex court only allowed 16 out of the 18 to be invalidated.

Lawyer and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim also shared New’s sentiments.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Hassan said it was wrong for Hadi to blame and condemn the judges.

Lawyer and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim

He said the judges delivered their verdicts according to the laws and the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law in the country.

“It is the judges’ duty to interpret laws enacted by Parliament.

“Therefore, we must amend the laws or Federal Constitution. This is the duty of the current government and all the MPs in Parliament,” he said.

Sharing similar sentiments was lawyer Azira Aziz, who reminded Hadi that he is a politician and an MP who participated in the system — amending the Federal Constitution.

“If he thinks that being an MP is against his values and principles as a Muslim, he should refund his entire worth of salary, resign, and reject all forms of government pension,” she told Malaysiakini.

Missed chance to win people’s support

Senior lawyer Zaid Ibrahim said Hadi’s remarks had caused PAS to lose a golden opportunity to win the support of the majority of the people.

Instead of lashing out at the judges on Nik Elin’s case, Zaid said Hadi should have said he understood the judges’ verdict and urged Muslims to be patient.

“If we are ever going to have a political party that inspires hope for a positive change in the country, its leaders must stop whining and complaining.

“This visionary and hopeful leader is what the people are waiting for.

“PAS certainly does not have one for now,” the former law minister said on X.