Sunday, 11 September 2011

Is Singapore’s Administration of Muslim Law Act immune from debate?

Since my return to Singapore in 2009, the Straits Times has published many of my letters. Subjects have included Temasek Holding, Singapore Post, the Singapore Law Society and SMRT amongst others.
However, try as hard as I might, the Straits Times refuses to publish any of my opinions on Singapore's Administration of Muslim Law Act. I have sent many letters on the subject to the Straits Times.

Islamic law being implemented in the Indonesian province of Banda Aceh
My experience certainly gives me the impression that public discourse, constructive or not, remains controlled. An opinion given greater credence by  allegations contained in a document recently revealed by Wikileaks on Singapore's Straits Times newspaper.
It's fine to speak about common space and freedom of action –unless one is a Singaporean Muslim. In which case, she is denied many rights which are freely available to non-Muslim Singaporeans. Surely, discussion about Singapore's sharia and its implications for 'Common Space' cannot be beyond Singapore's self imposed 'out of bonds' markers?
Below is the text of a letter sent to the Straits Times on September 4, 2011. It represents my latest attempt at initiating a debate on Singapore's Administration of Muslim Law Act.

The Straits Times,

September 4, 2011
To the Editor:
It was heartening to read the Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing's recent statements about efforts to increase Singapore's common space.
I hope these efforts will include a review of Singapore's Sharia legal system. The imposition of Sharia upon Singaporean Muslims creates a legal barrier between Muslims and Singapore's other races. Additionally, sharia law has the potential to create rifts between Malay and non-Malay Muslims.
Legislation applicable to citizens only on the basis of religion has little place in a modern republic such as Singapore. It is high time the government initiate efforts to make all Singaporeans, irrespective of race and religion, subject to a unified legal code.
Imran Ahmed

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Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of small and medium sized businesses. He can be reached at

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