Naza Group chairman SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin is set to take contempt proceedings against Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah for criticising the shariah court’s decision to impose a jail sentence on his former wife Emilia Hanafi.
It was reported that Faisal’s lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader said that the comments by Maria showed that she was ignorant about the facts surrounding the case involving Emilia.
“She did not even consult the other side before making such a strong statement,” said Akberdin,
The lawyer added that he had been instructed by his client to initiate contempt proceedings against Maria “for insulting the shariah court”.
“Being a lawmaker, she has to be fair to both sides and respect the law all the more.”
Emilia was slapped with a seven-day jail sentence on Sept 4 by the Kuala Lumpur Shariah Court for rescheduling visitation dates for her children to be with their father. She is now out on RM5,000 bail pending appeal.
This prompted Maria’s comments that Muslim women were still being discriminated under Malaysia’s shariah legal system.
Emilia and Faisal divorced in 2016. She has been granted full custody of their three children, Fawwaz, Faiz and Farhan.
Akberdin claimed that Emilia has never let Faisal take their children out of her house, despite the father being granted visitation rights in July.
“He was supposed to be able to take the children on Saturday and return them on Sunday. But he was never allowed to do this, not once, not even for overnight stays let alone a few hours during the day.”
Akberdin said the jail sentence showed the court was serious in its decision that both parties must come to a consensus when it comes to the court order.
“It can’t be unilateral. She can’t just decide things on her own.”
Emilia maintained that she did not deny her ex-husband his visitation rights or go against the court order.
The seven-day jail sentence was described as “grave injustice” and “total disgrace to the judicial system” by Maria.
“Sentencing a mother of three to jail for seven days for rescheduling visitations even though she had asked for a replacement date is a serious matter,” Maria said.
It is understood that on Oct 6 and 7 last year, Faisal was not allowed to visit the children as Emilia had brought her children with her to a religious function in Baling, Kedah. She is said to have again violated the court order on Oct 10, on Faisal’s birthday, which led him to bring the matter to court.
Maria claimed that Emilia had struggled in an “abusive relationship”, adding that she also did not receive any child support from her ex-husband.
The MP also questioned the Welfare Department for going to Emilia’s house in search of her three kids.
“This is absolutely astounding. It has been four years since the case was first brought to court and Emilia has since been granted full custody over her children. Why is she still being harassed?” Maria asked.
She asked why the shariah court and the Welfare Department did not go after fathers who do not provide child support or maintenance.
“For over 30 years as an activist and a human rights advocate, I have encountered many cases where divorced Muslim women have been left defenceless against the shariah courts, especially when it comes to getting ex-husbands to provide maintenance.
“We cannot allow this discrimination to continue any longer,” she said and recommended that the women, family and community development ministry and the religious affairs ministry work with the shariah courts on this.
They could set up a “non-discriminatory system” to take care of the rights of the disadvantaged, she proposed.