Friday, 23 August 2013

Datin Paduka Prof Dr Hjh Mehrun Siraj




Introduction

Dr Mehrun Siraj is a professor of law at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). She has served as an advocate and solicitor, a consultant for UN agencies, and is a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).

Qualifications

LLB (Hons) (Singapore), LLM and PhD (London University, School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS);

Positions held & Affiliations
  1. Former Suhakam commissioner.
  2. Advocate and Solicitor High Court of Malaya (non-practising);
  3. Adjunct Professor, Kulliyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia
  4. Board of Directors, Institut Rakyat (under PKR): http://www.institutrakyat.org/about-us/board-of-directors/
Institut Rakyat
6, Lorong 5/17D, Section 5, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone: +60 (0)3 7931 7890
E-Mail: info@institutrakyat.org
Web: www.institutrakyat.org
Institut Rakyat is chaired by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Institut Rakyat's board of directors consists of Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali, artist, educator and social activist Wong Hoy Cheong, businessman Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, entrepreneur and investor Dr Tan Boon Kean and International Islamic University Malaysia law professor Dr Mehrun Siraj. Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/prominent-figures-drive-pkrs-institut-rakyat#ixzz2cm94XlDY
Launch of Institut Rakyat
Institut Rakyat - Ke Arah Malaysia Baru (posted on 21 February 2013)
Mohamad Isamuddin blogspot
http://mohamadisamuddin.blogspot.com/2013/02/institut-rakyat-ke-arah-malaysia-baru.html

Listings

Prof. Adjung Hjh. Mehrun binti Siraj
Kulliyah Undang-Undang Ahmad Ibrahim
Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia
in
Attorney General's Chambers
No. 45, Persiaran Perdana
Precinct
4, 62100 Putrajaya
Tel: 03-8872 - 2000
Tel: 03-8890 - 5670
Email: pro@agc.gov.my
Official portal of the Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia
http://www.agc.gov.my/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=371&Itemid=279&lang=en

Papers, Presentations and Internet Articles

1965-1979

Mehrun Siraj (1965), “The Legal Effect of Conversion to Islam, Viswalingam
S. v. Viswalingam U.(1979)”, Mal. L.R., Vol. 7, No. 1.

2006

Conversion to Islam and its effect on a non-Muslim marriage. (2006)
Prof. Mehrun Siraj
Presented at the inaugural law conference, Overview of Recent Development in Malaysian Law, organised by the Law Faculty of Universiti Malaya and LexisNexis.
From: iMOL Archives (www.indianmalaysian.com)
http://www.indianmalaysian.com/sound/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=75

2008

HUMAN RIGHTS IN MALAYSIA: THE LAST TEN YEARS - WOMEN AND RELIGION
Mehrun Siraj
http://www.suhakam.org.my/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=24205&folderId=64628&name=DLFE-5413.pdf 

Dr Mehrun Siraj challenges Badawi to be sincere about resolving conflicts between Muslim convert and non-converting spouse.
http://omong.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/dr-mehrun-siraj-challenges-badawi-to-be-sincere-about-resolving-conflicts-between-muslim-convert-and-non-converting-spouse/
The recommendation by a former SUHAKAM Commissioner, Dr. Mehrun Siraj that the Syariah court should not unilaterally make any decisions that might affect the rights of non Muslims, is a sound initiative towards resolving the issue and should be seriously considered by all states.
Bar Council forum on conversion to Islam
MPF PRESS RELEASE
12th August 2008
Dr. Mazeni Alwi
Chairman
Muslim Professionals Forum
http://mpf.org.my/wp/?p=727

2009 
Seminar Agama dan Hak Asasi Manusia : Ke Arah Pemurniaan Kefahaman
Written by Unit Perhubungan Korporat. Posted in Buletin
Kertas 10 "Human Rights and Freedom of Religion" oleh Prof. Dr. Mehrun Siraj (Prof. Adjung, Kulliyyah Undang-undang Ahmad Ibrahim UIAM); (Paper delivered at the Malaysian Human Rights Day 2009, The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), September 2009), page 1 - 31
http://www.ikim.gov.my/index.php/en/buletin/8151-seminar-agama-dan-hak-asasi-manusia-ke-arah-pemurniaan-kefahaman

Child Custody Cases Between Muslim and Non Muslim Parents Needed Resolution
By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
http://www.ukm.my/news/index.php/en/research-news/1077-child-custody-cases-between-muslim-and-non-muslim-parents-needed-resolution.html

2010

The politics of dialogue
By K Shanmuga (29 January 2010)
http://www.thenutgraph.com/the-politics-of-dialogue/

2013

Khamis Februari 21, 2013
mStar Online: PKR Lancar Institut Rakyat Kaji Dasar Politik Baru
Oleh IWAN SHU-ASWAD SHUAIB
http://www.mstar.com.my/berita/cerita.asp?file=/2013/2/21/mstar_berita/20130221195143&sec=mstar_berita

Books & Ads


Resolving Child Custody Disputes: The Law & Practice in Malaysia by Dr Mehrun Siraj (LexisNexis, 2012).
http://www.lexisnexis.com.my/store/catalog/apac/catalog.jsp?pageName=catalogProducts&catId=mycat0&id=mycat19&ProductperPage=25&sortBy=name

Dispute Resolution
http://disputeresolutionlaw.info/booksandarticles/resolving-child-custody-disputes-the-law-and-practice-in-malaysia-436.html

Source: LexisNexis
Date of Publication: Wednesday, 01 August 2012
Original Title: Resolving Child Custody Disputes- The Law and Practice in Malaysia
Author/Editor: Dr Mehrun Siraj
Publisher/Journal: LexisNexis Malaysia
Price: RM150.00
ISBN/ISBN-13/ISSN:  9789674000912

Visitations

Law Faculty, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
http://www.bond.edu.au/faculties/law/international-students/country-specific-information/malaysia/index.htm

Dialogues

Dialogue with KAMI representatives

Other

Supporter of Checkpoint Theatre in Singapore
http://checkpoint-theatre.org/support-us

Malay Wikipedia on Dr Mehrun Siraj (empty)
http://ms.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mehrun_Siraj&action=edit&redlink=1

Life Story

From The Star
Taken from Muslim Life Malaysia (posted Monday, 26 June 2006)
http://muslimlifemalaysia.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_archive.html

By Mehrun Siraj

I grew up in the minority Muslim community of secular Singapore. My teacher father and social worker mother were both social activists and leaders of the community. I consider myself fortunate that because of my mixed parentage, my religious education was a combination of the traditional method of learning about Islam and the broader approach of a convert.

So we had an Ustazah coming to the house to teach us to read the Quran and perform the Solat in the right manner. My mother’s family was strict about performing the five daily prayers right on time and in carrying out all the other obligations imposed on Muslims.

My better understanding of the religion, however, came from my father who was the epitome of Islamic ideals. He emphasized the values that Islam expected of its followers – integrity, diligence, patience, compassion, charity, and the importance of amanah – what we are entrusted with and our duties to discharge that trust in accordance with Allah’s teachings.

I learnt and absolutely believe that the Quran is the Word of God, meant as a guide to mankind for all times and for all places. To me, the Quran is the anchor that prevents the ship of society from being buffeted by the winds of change in human behaviour resulting from a refusal to obey God’s prescriptions for human conduct.

From my constant reading of a paperback copy of Pickthall’s translation of the Quran while I was growing up, I was able to quote in English, verses which were to help me through life’s difficult times. Sadly, despite several forays into intensive Arabic courses, I am still unable to quote the Arabic text.

Surrounded as I was by people who personified Islamic values, it was inevitable that I develop a strong faith. The first test of my faith was when the question of marriage came up. I had been dating a Hindu classmate and under Islamic Law a Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man.

For a valid Muslim marriage, my intended had to convert to Islam. Perhaps this is why many of my Muslim friends will not date non-Muslim men – to avoid this difficult situation. Our situation was made even more difficult because we were presented with a choice.

We were in Singapore and the Women’s Charter allows a civil marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Such a marriage would be valid by Singapore law but not according to Islam.
The Islamic Law on capacity to marry is codified from verse 2:221 of the Quran:
“Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe?
Nor marry your girls to unbelievers until they believe?”
Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary of this verse explains: “If religion is at all a real influence in life to both parties or to either party, a difference in this vital matter must affect the lives of both more profoundly than differences of birth, race, language or position in life. It is therefore only right that the parties to be married should have the same spiritual outlook. If two persons love each other, their outlook in the highest things of life must be the same.” That is the traditional view.

There are those who advocate an amendment to the law, arguing that the Quran should be interpreted contextually –relate the text to its socio-historical context and then relate it to the present.

I have done that with the verse above but I am unable to identify the change in society that justifies a shift from the traditional interpretation.

The argument that women today are better educated, economically independent and more mobile does not rebut Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s explanation.
Has anyone studied mixed marriages where only the wife is Muslim? What is the effect on the spirituality of the woman, the upbringing of the children and the general pattern of their lives?
Such studies would be more relevant for consideration than the other reasons that have been advanced.

For example, we are told that other Muslim countries have made the changes and their action hailed as a progressive step forward in guaranteeing Human Rights for Muslim women. Shouldn’t we think about the impact of such changes before blindly following them?

I hear the call to amend the relevant domestic laws so that women can have equal rights with men in relation to the family and thus enable Malaysia to withdraw her reservation to Article 16 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Muslims can subscribe to the theory of the universality of Human Rights but only to the extent that it does not conflict with clearly stated principles in the Quran. We cannot reject Quranic verses just to bring ourselves in line with UN Conventions and the practice in other parts of the world.

Should the fear of being labelled “backward” push us into reforming our Islamic laws? Shouldn’t the fear of incurring Allah’s wrath be a more important consideration in our deliberations?

Thirty five years ago, I could not see any reason for going against the Word of God, whatever the law of the land provided, and today, I am still unable to find the justification for rejecting the Quranic injunction.

So what does one do when the person one loves refuses to convert to Islam? My advice to everyone in that situation has always been the same – break up and go your separate ways. I have been asked how I can be so heartless when Islam itself is not heartless.

Unfortunately, I have not found any verse that says it is all right to go against the teachings of the Quran for the sake of someone you love. No matter how much we may love a fellow human being, we must love Allah even more. And that, I guess, is the bottom line – how much do we love our God?

Those who believe know that Allah will give them what is best for them, even if it is not what they want. For me, it was a happy ending.

The only love in my life had been attracted to Islam from his school days in Penang when he watched Anwar Fazal’s family going to the mosque for Friday prayers in their “furry” Pakistani caps (as he called them). His knowledge and belief increased as he read all the books on Islam in my father’s vast collection during the six years of our courtship, so when the time came, we had an akad nikah in secular Singapore.

Now retired, the writer has served as a Professor, an Advocate and Solicitor, a Consultant for UN agencies, a Commissioner of Human Rights and an NGO activist. 


The Sarkies Brothers and the E&O Hotel in Penang


From the book: The E&O Hotel. Pearl of Penang by Ilsa Sharp (2008).

Page 28: The Armenians are devout Christians. The four Armenian Sarkies brothers who founded the E&O Hotel in 1885 were Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak. The Armenian name Sarkies could have come from Sarkissian or their father's first name, who was named Sarkies Martyrose Ter Woskanian. Tigran was the first brother to settle in Penang (there is no date mentioned). However, Martin (b.1852) had visited Penang in 1869.

Page 29: Shows a family photo of the Sarkies.

I attended the Penang Story Lecture: "Penang and the Hajj 2013" on 17-18 August 2013 at the E&O Hotel. Present were Rukiah Hanoum Omar Farok and her second cousin, Mohd Aiyob Mohd Aziz. She is the granddaughter of Sir KM Ariff. Mohd Aiyob is the the grandnephew of Sir KM Ariff.

I was walking from the dining hall to the Palm Lounge with Rukiah Hanoum when we stopped and I took her photo in the corridor. There were three oval frames on the back wall which at the time were unknown to me. However, when I returned to Kelantan and I was reading Ilsa's book, it contained the same portraits of the three gentlemen, and they were actually the founders of the E&O Hotel in Penang.

I then went through my digital album and got to the photo of Rukiah Hanoum with the three gentlemen's portraits on the wall. True enough, the three portraits on the wall were the founders of the E&O Hotel. I worked all morning today, to edit the photo - to crop just the three gentlemen. The middle portrait was a bit difficult to work on as the top of the frame was not in the photo (truncated). I had to tweak it to make a new photograph altogether. Then I created some text to go with the three portraits. I think my new photograph of the three gentlemen is better now. I have included the three names so I know who they are.



Dr Sun Yat-sen

I heard his name when we studied History in secondary school. I never liked history, so my sister dictated history throughout my school days, and I learnt history that way. I never quite understood what history was about and why we needed to even study it in school. Now that I'm writing on history, I understand some bits and pieces of history.

I was walking around in the E&O Hotel, exploring all nooks and corners, doors and hallways. I stumbled across two unusual looking cabinets full of photographs. I wondered why the E&O kept photographs in the cabinets. So I took a closer look. And to my surprise, the cabinets contained portraits of important people in history. I saw Tunku Abdul Rahman, Dr Sun Yat-sen, Charlie Chaplin, and some others. I was about to leave the cabinets alone when I thought to take a second look at the photos. I looked at the portrait of Dr Sun Yat-sen. I don't know him except by name. My sister would love to hear about him as he was one of those she loved to tell about when I was a student. So I snapped a photo of Dr Sun Yat-sen for her. Unfortunately, when I got back to our late mother's house (now my sister's house), I forgot altogether to tell her about the Dr Sun Yat-sen portrait I saw in a cabinet at the E&O Hotel. That's the problem with short memory span - things slip easily.

Anyway, I worked all morning on the portrait to improve it a bit, so I can upload a better portrait of Dr Sun Yat-sen. The original one I took had me in the background as a glassy image with my name tag (not good). Below is the improved image I made of the famous Chinese leader.



I attended the Penang Story Lecture on "Penang and the Hajj 2013" for 2 days, 17-18 August 2013 at the  E&O Hotel in Penang. I went on a tour organised by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT). The President, Khoo Salma Nasution was our tour guide. We visited the 'Dr Sun Yat-sen Penang Base' at 120 Armenian Street, Penang. I took some pictures after we were allowed to do so by Salma. This was where Dr Sun Yat-sen and his followers had discussed plans for the revolution which then took place in China. You can read up further about the Chinese Revolution. 

My medical students covered this topic when they presented on Chinese Traditional & Complimentary Medicine, under History of Medicine, for the General Block (Foundation Block) in Year 1 Medicine. This is the first lecture & student presentation that all medical students have to attend, learn together and do together. Input of this type is a very good eye opener to link present medical studies to our past history, and history of our region and people (Asia and Asiatic people). Even though we live and learn modern medicine in Kelantan, we also learn about ancient Chinese history of mainland China! That is what I call internationalization of learning, or global learning. Medical students seem to like and enjoy this particular mode of learning. It does require a lot of effort on my part to search for good resources for my medical students, in order to make 'history come alive' for them.