Family Mediation in Malaysian Muslim Society: Some Lessons for the Civil Family Law in Malaysia

This is the gist of my Seoul paper presentation. I had some feedbacks that I need to incorporate in my thesis soon. Although, the conference is heavy on the Civil Laws’ country aspects, but I learnt quite a few new things in my short time there. Alhamdulillah, made several networking too. Some day, it all can be made to good use.

Before my presentation…

Malaysia’s justice system is exceptional in that it reflects the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious culture. Malaysia has a two-tier legal system, including family law. Family law matters relating to Muslims are administered separately from those of non-Muslims. Muslims are dealt with under the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, while non-Muslims are dealt with under the jurisdiction of the civil courts. It is significant to note that, since 2002 there has been a mandatory family mediation service also known as Sulh for Muslims but a similar service is yet to be established under the civil legal system for the non-Muslims in Malaysia. The Sulh process is reported to be successful in dealing with the backlog of cases in the Syariah Courts. It is also argued that the benefits of making mediation mandatory generally prevail over the potential harms for families, even when violence is an issue, provided that its design and realizations are carefully thought of. Hence, it could be argued that it is only fair and equitable that an equivalent form of process be made available to non-Muslims in the civil family law system.

Thus, the current paper is not concerned with whether or not mediation should be made mandatory in family disputes, but rather the best way in approaching its application and implementation in the civil legal system Malaysia. Considering that the Islamic family law system has already been progressively establishing a form of mandatory mediation for Muslims in Malaysia, the paper briefly describes and reflects on the development and implementation of the Sulh program and highlights some of the lessons for the civil legal system towards establishing a mandatory family mediation program for non-Muslims in Malaysia.

For further reading, you may download the paper here. Any comment is highly appreciated. Many thanks.

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