In recent times, the lawyers are often seen as the new “clergy” of every day life. What would life be without them?
At our recent forum, Andrew Khoo, lawyer and great personal friend helped to bring about a greater awareness how even from a legal perspective, it cannot be reduced to merely the letter of the law. The following questions he raised highlighted by Alwyn in his on going series, Against Corridored Thinking (Shamed But Not Ashamed, Pt.4) shows what I mean.
who decides what morality, let alone public morality, is?
if morality is begotten of religion, then whose religion sets the standard?
how would we define ‘gender equality’? (here some of us were introduced to the acronym, "LGBTIQ")
what’s the importance of sexual morality vis-a-vis other facets of morality? why is sex such a ‘big deal’ (and has it always been the case)?
how do we navigate between private notions of morality and public law?
should privacy legislation be practised, and what exceptions would there be?
Below are extra notes to get the brain juices bubbling!
- Not speaking on behalf of the Bar Council
- LGBTIQ- politics & gender- what does this mean
- FC amended after signing CEDAW- inserted gender- cannot discriminate based on gender
- Interesting to present test case- person of trans-gender being discriminated against. Would the courts recognise transgender as sub-set of gender
- Only covers government, not private employment contracts?
- Politics of gender- in itself raises many questions
- Public morality- who decides what public morality is? Vote? If not, who decides?
- Government said ‘majority support death penalty’- government tends to take role of guardian of morality. Get elected, therefore anything they say have support of majority of citizens?
- Public morality- not just sexual morality. Other aspects e.g. pedestrians crossing the road- motorists driving dangerously
- Is it moral to say might is right? Weight of government thrown behind
- Criminalisation of homosexuality. S.377 Penal Code. Insertion of objects into anus/vagina- if practising homosexual – automatically act of lovemaking is criminalised. Victorian ideas of what can or cannot be done. Being gay is criminalised but being lesbian isn’t. Certain sexual acts between lesbian which would not fall into s.377.
- If derived from religious values- then whose religion? Islam- dominant religion? Consensus of other religions? Sexual rights- look at Malaysia’s record- people who are victimised because of what they are e.g. trans-gender community. Nobody really protecting their rights to be who they are.
- Government’s response- want us to be a Western country. No established religion accepts gay marriage. Values- whose values should be replicated or indorsed in legislation.
- One view- laws should not enforce morality, should be amoral. Not supporting any particular perception of morality. Is that possible?
- R v Brown- prosecution of assault and battery- sado-masichistic activities. In the privacy of their own home. Old case- changing moralities.
- Public has a right to interfere with your privacy if it feels that what you are doing is repugnant to public policy.
- Public policy informed by moral values- whose moral values?
- E Wong, Chua Soi Lek, VK Lingam- ‘victims’ of expose of an activity through an invasion of privacy.
- Draw distinction because Chua Soi Lek went to a hotel?
- No privacy law in Malaysia at the moment. Should have a law on privacy. All laws have exceptions. What kind of exceptions will you allow? Intrusions based on public policy. Potential exposure to a crime. Would E Wong’s case fall within such an exception? Malay Muslim boyfriend- potential to prove khalwat?
- Innocent victim to attempt to show evidence of a syariah related offence. Is it justifiable?
- Needs public debate about what should the general principles be and when exceptions would be applied
- Feminist perspective- added protection for women to recognise reality because a particular category of community that is more at risk?