By their silence, the PM and deputy PM have failed the nation

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Deputy PM Zahid and PM Najib - Photograph: Seth Akmal/The Malaysian Insight

When the right thing does not happen, the extremists in our midst would take it as free licence to run wild, says P Ramakrishnan.

The Muslim Scholars Association of Malaysia (PUM) must be condemned for showing scant respect to our judiciary by not accepting the unanimous decision of the Federal Court, the highest court in our land, which nullified the illegal conversion of Indra Gandhi’s three children.

Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband is a fugitive from the law. He is in contempt of court. He is wanted for the kidnapping of an 11-month-old child. He is no respecter of the law.

With the connivance of the Perak religious department, he had unlawfully converted his three children without the prior consent and knowledge of the mother of his three children – which wasn’t the decent thing to do: it went against the Federal Constitution requiring the mother’s prior consent; it failed to adhere to the requirements of Perak religious rules and regulations which made it mandatory for all three children to be present and recite the affirmation of faith required for conversion. Only then could a certificate of conversion be issued.

It is disappointing and unethical for the Registrar of Muallaf to have ignored this requirement and issued a certificate of conversion. When we have a registrar who doesn’t follow rules and thereby compromises the certainty of the law, problems such as witnessed in this case surface.

As for Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, he did nothing that was right. He defied the court order and refused to produce his daughter in court. Now that he is wanted by the law, he hasn’t surrendered himself. As things stand, he is a wanted fugitive. These facts attest to and justify his being rightly regarded as a contemnor (a person who is in contempt) since he seems to have scant regard for the supremacy of the law.

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With so much hanging over Riduan, it is bewildering that the PUM should call on the police not to hunt for him. They don’t want him to be brought to justice. They don’t want him to be answerable to the court.

The call by its president, Abdul Halim Abd Kadir, to the police is baffling: “We ask for the kind consideration of the police to not hunt the father and the children until a solution can be found.”

Does the PUM believe in the rule of law? The police are duty-bound to seek Riduan, arrest him and produce him in court. Does Abdul Halim want the police to subvert the law?

And what does Abdul Halim mean by “until a solution can be found”? Is he so dumb that he does not realise that the Federal Court has found the right solution to resolve this case? And this decision by the highest court in the land is a unanimous one based on the supreme law of the country, the Federal Constitution.

It is mischievous of Abdul Halim to threaten that “religious sectarian violence may erupt in this country if the police continue to hunt Muhammad Riduan Abdullah and Prasana Diksa”.

Would Abdul Halim care to state who would cause the “conflict between religious adherents in this country that may spark violence in society”? Would he be part of a rowdy crowd that does not respect the rule of law?

Is Abdul Halim aware that he is indeed trying to agitate the Muslims and get them to oppose the court decision? Is he instigating the extremists to take the law into their hands? If things get out of hand and turn violent, he must be held solely responsible for any untoward incidents that threaten our peace and harmony.

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It is a pity that our top leaders do not land hard on troublemakers like Abdul Halim. Thinking Malaysians would have expected the prime minister to take him to task. The prime minister didn’t – he kept mum.

Loyal Malaysians would have expected the home minister to instruct the police to haul Abdul Halim up immediately for questioning. The minister didn’t – he held his silence.

When the right thing does not happen, the extremists in our midst would take it as free licence to run wild. They would be encouraged to think that their action is being condoned. They would take it that they are above the law and become reckless in their words and deeds. That would pose a grave danger to the nation.

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