Things got heated up in the Dewan Rakyat recently, with both government and opposition Members of Parliament (MP) engaging in a shouting match which ended with the latter staging a walkout from the 19th September session. We’ve previously covered the potential defamatory remarks by both Putrajaya MP Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim towards the other and why no court proceeding can be heard regarding the incident.
Amidst the chaos, there was another controversial incident that took place during the same session that was overshadowed by the Radzi vs Anwar hullabaloo. We are of course talking about the allegation made by Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who claimed that the phrase “Wallahi Wabillahi Watallahi” was removed from the oath of office during the swearing-in of new Kulai MP Suhaizan Kaiat on 18 September.
During the session on 19 September, Shahidan said that he was shocked that the aforementioned Arabic phrase used by Muslims to swear on the truth of their word is now ‘removed’ from the swearing-in oath ceremony of MP. He even questioned who allowed for the removal of the phrase and that the opposition ‘almost fainted’ at the alleged change.
However, the Arau MP’s claims couldn’t be further from the truth because in actuality, the phrase has never been used in the swearing-in oaths by new MPs. The misleading allegations are more disappointing when you consider that Shahidan has been an MP for 37 years and a video of his own swearing-in post-GE15 showed that he also didn’t utter the Arabic phrase.
To confirm whether the “Wallahi Wabillahi Watallahi” phrase is part of the oath of an MP before taking his seat in the Dewan Rakyat, one needs to only refer to the supreme law of the land, the Federal Constitution. Specifically, the matter is prescribed under Article 59 of the Federal Constitution below:
Article 59(1) asserted that before officially taking the seat in Parliament, every member of either the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara must utter the oath as specified under the Federal Constitution’s Sixth Schedule before the person presiding over each House. Accordingly, the Sixth Schedule is as follows:
As you can see from the above, the Arabic phrase is not part of the oath of MPs during swearing-in to the Dewan Rakyat. More importantly, there was never an amendment to the oath as claimed by Shahidan since the Federal Constitution was enacted on 31 August 1957.
Therefore, the Arau MP can be considered to have misled the Dewan Rakyat and other sitting MPs can refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee under the Standing Order 36(12) of the House. Besides that, Shahidan may also be referred under Standing Order 36(6) of the House for having ill intention, as the allegations were arguably made to portray the Legislative of the day as not being as ‘Islamic’ as the previous ones by allegedly removing an Arabic phrase used by Muslims.
Furthermore, the veteran MP also seems to suggest that the Arabic phrase was removed by the current government, claiming that the opposition will re-introduce the phrase should they be in power. However, as we’ve clarified above, the phrase has never been part of an MP’s oath during the swearing-in ceremony, with the claims by Shahidan can be considered as nothing more than playing politics.
It is also worth noting that should the opposition want the “Wallahi Wabillahi Watallahi” phrase to be included as part of an MP’s or Senator’s swearing-in, it must go through Parliament with a two-thirds majority. This is because the oath is part of the Federal Constitution’s Sixth Schedule and any amendments to the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority.
Moving forward, MPs and Senators of the Dewan Negara should be more mindful of what they utter in Parliament. It is important to ensure any issues brought up are truthful and based on facts, so that the Legislative can truly perform their duties as one of the three branches of government.