by Beh Lih Yi
In recent times, issues and debates concerning the freedom of religion have been dominating the conversations of businessmen and politicians as well as your local hawkers and taxi drivers.
The name Lina Joy is no more foreign to the lips of Malaysians. Apostasy is no longer a distant issue concerning non-Muslims.
People are asking where the line starts between the Federal Court and ends at the Syariah Courts. The grey area of freedom of religion in Malaysia, a multi-racial, multi-religious country is now in contention.
And this debate looks set to continue at the forthcoming Malaysian Law Conference to be held from Oct 29 -31.
“There will be a session on freedom of religion where a few distinguished speakers will speak about the recent Lina Joy case”, said Roger Tan, chairperson of the organising committee for the conference.
The conference will devote its second day to issues on constitutional law and how the constitution has developed since Malaysia’s independence.
Other topics to be deliberated include trade and globalisation, Islamic commercial law, Orang Asli and the Constitution, freedom of the arts and gender issues.
Tan added that the topics at the forum were aimed at examining the development of the laws after 50 years of independence.
They will also reflect Malaysia’s achievements, raising present isses and challenges, and generating discussion of the way forward in the next 50 years.
The conference aims to attract 1,000 delegates this year, up from the usual 500 delegates.
A major attraction of this year’s conference is the opening address by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah and the keynote address by the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi .
Sultan Azlan Shah’s speech entitled ’50 years of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law’ will reflect the conference’s theme of ’50 years of Merdeka’.
“This is a rare honour to have the Sultan and Prime Minister deliver the opening and keynote addresses. It is a great opportunity for members of the bar to turn up in full force,” said Tan.
The conference will also feature speakers from the Malaysian Bar, judiciary, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Judicial and Legal Services, corporate sectors, local universities, NGOs and foreign Bar associations.
The conference will be held on Oct 29 to 31 October at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.