Thursday, March 17, 2011

Malaysia: No to non-Muslim Syarie lawyers

By Reena Raj

KUALA LUMPUR: After a 10-month-long battle, a test case bid by a non-Muslim counsel to practise Syariah law came to a halt after it was rejected by the High Court here this morning.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) Judge Justice Rohana Yusuf, in dismissing the application by Victoria Jayaseele Martin, 48, said the admission of a Syariah lawyer was conditional upon the rule by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council, with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

She said the rules were to be made on procedure, qualifications and fees for admission of a Syariah lawyer.

The judge said Rule Eight of the Federal Constitution did not deprive Victoria of being an advocate and solicitor.

“In my view, the purposive rule of the requirement of a Muslim faith is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of legal representations.”

As the case involved an issue of public interest, Rohana also ruled all parties to bear their own cost.

On May 14 last year, Victoria was allowed to challenge the requirement that a Syariah lawyer in Federal Territory must be a Muslim and to compel the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council to admit her as a Syariah lawyer.

The High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge at that time, Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh, allowed Victoria’s application after dismissing preliminary objections raised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers through Senior Federal Counsel Nadia Hanim Mohd Tajuddin.

In a statement filed to support her application, Victoria had stated she possessed a Diploma in Syariah Law and Practice from the International Islamic University Malaysia, in addition to a University of London law degree.

She claimed the council, through the Syariah Lawyer Committee, had rejected her application to practise as a Syariah lawyer solely because she was not Muslim.

Victoria had said Section 59(1) of the Syariah Act provided that the council could admit any person having sufficient knowledge of Islamic law to be a Syariah lawyer to represent parties in any proceedings before the Syariah Court.

In her affidavit, she had said she applied to be admitted as a Syariah lawyer in Kuala Lumpur in February, 2006.

She claimed she did not get any response to her first application, causing her to re-apply on Aug 24, last year.

Victoria was represented by Ranjit Singh.

(The Malay Mail, Thursday, March 17th, 2011)

Tokio Marine sells Takaful interests

Tokio Marine is pulling out of its Takaful joint venture with Malaysian Islamic bank Hong Leong.

The Japanese insurer has gained regulatory approval to sell all of the shares it holds in Malaysia Takaful company, Hong Leong Tokio Marine Takaful Bhd, to Hong Leong Group.

A spokesperson from Tokio Marine said the parting of the ways came about with the realization by both parties that Tokio Marine and Hong Leong's Asian expansion strategies had begun to diverge.

Tokio Marine and Hong Leong "have come to agree amicably to dissolve their business alliance and pave their respective paths of development because of differences between Tokio Marine's Asian strategies and Hong Leong's strategies concentrated on Takaful, life and general insurance business in Malaysia," said Tokio Marine in a statement.

The two companies teamed up in 2006 with Hong Leong being the senior partner in the venture holding 65% of the stock.

A spokesperson from Tokio Marine's Dubai office told The Islamic Globe that he was unable to add anything further. Hong Leong Group did not respond to requests for comment.

(The Islamic Globe, 15 March 2011)

Merger of Al-Khaliji, Qatari bank

The proposed merger of Al-Khaliji Bank and the International Bank of Qatar is expected to be announced within two to three months, as reported in Qatar's English-language daily, The Peninsula (8 March 2011).

Al-Khaliji chairman and managing director Sheikh Hamad Faisal Thani al Thani told reporters after the bank's annual general meeting (AGM), “A merger is not easy and will take time but hopefully in two to three months we should be able to make an announcement on the merger.”

He said he believes the proposal would yield long-term benefits to shareholders by creating a more competitive, financially stronger and significantly larger organisation.

As soon as all required regulatory approvals are obtained, the proposal will be submitted for approval by shareholders. 

Zamani appointed as Bank Islam chairman

KUALA LUMPUR, Tuesday, [1 March 2011] – Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (Bank Islam) announced today that former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Deputy Governor Dato’ Zamani Abdul Ghani has been appointed chairman of the Bank effective today. [1 March, 2011].

Dato’ Zamani started his career with the Economics Department of BNM in 1971. He rose through the ranks to the position of among others, Deputy Director in the Treasury Operations Department, Director of the Bank Regulation Department, Director of the Insurance Regulation and Inspection

Department and later as BNM’s Deputy Governor. He was Special Adviser in Bank Negara Malaysia prior to his appointment to Bank Islam.

 During his tenure at BNM, he oversaw various departments responsible for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions, units combating abuses in, and of the financial system, as well as the Bank’s corporate, personnel, property, security and related services. The financial institutions he oversaw include both conventional and Islamic banks, insurance entities and development financial institutions.

(Statement dated March 1 from Bank Islam)