Sabah Council of Churches Invites Protestors to Understand True Meaning of the Cross. Plus State Exco Press Statement

April 23, 2015

We trust that if the protestors were to understand the true meaning of the cross – regardless of whether they agree with the rest of the Christian faith or not – they would not perceive it as anything other than a symbol of the love and mercy of God. The cross is also a symbol of humility and forgiveness, and could and should never be conceived as a challenge or provocation in any way, shape or form.

SABAH COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Majlis Gereja-Gereja Sabah
P O Box No.444, 88856 Likas Post Office, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Press Statement

1.    We are disturbed, and saddened, by the protest by a group of people on Sunday, 19 April 2015, at Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, against a church which has been in operation since August 2014. It was also reported that the protestors had demanded that the cross be removed from the church because it was perceived as “challenging Islam” in the predominantly-Muslim neighbourhood.

2.    We are disturbed, because we believe that this latest episode of religious tension is a symptom of the deterioration of religious harmony in Malaysia. Never before has our multi-racial and religiously diverse nation faced so much anger and intolerance.

3.    Yet, at the same time, we still maintain our conviction that such hatred and provocative actions by a handful of extremists are certainly not representative of the Malaysian society as a whole, and that the overwhelming majority of our Muslim brothers and sisters strongly uphold the true Islamic value of respect and tolerance towards other religions and their places of worship.

4.    It goes without saying that it is the constitutional duty of the authority to guarantee that non-Muslims could practice their religions in peace and harmony (Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution). Such duty extends to protect not just the many in a cathedral, but also every small congregation of the few – Indeed, especially the small congregations of the few.

5.    Rather, we believe that the government also has a greater and more onerous, moral duty to foster greater understanding among all Malaysians. Incidents such as this usually stem from ignorance, and ignorance breeds hatred. Read the rest of this entry »

Sedition Amendments a Dire Blow to Rule of Law

April 17, 2015

Malaysiakini 17 April 2015 LINK

Related: See below for press statement by United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press statement by:

Steven Thiru, Malaysian Bar president
Leonard Shim, Advocates’ Association of Sarawak president
GBB Nandy @ Gaanesh, Sabah Law Association president

 

The Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association are appalled by the amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 passed by the Dewan Rakyat in the early hours of 10 April 2015.

We are extremely disappointed that the Malaysian Government has not only reneged from the promise made in 2012 to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with the National Harmony Act, but has substantially strengthened the former with drastic and oppressive provisions.

The Sedition Act 1948 is an archaic, obsolete, and regressive law that must be abolished. It severely restricts, or even extinguishes, the freedom of speech and expression, and hence tramples on the constitutional rights of Malaysians. It is the antithesis of democracy, justice, and human rights.

The amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 have dealt a crippling blow to the rule of law in Malaysia, and lend weight to the widely held public perception that we are becoming an intolerant authoritarian state.
The democratic space for frank, meaningful, and robust discourse has been palpably reduced.

The amendments reinforce the concern that the limits to freedom of speech and expression are to be determined by those in our society who are not open to adverse comments or contrary ideas, or who are easily offended or angered. This nurtures an environment of intemperance and intolerance.

The amendments passed by the Dewan Rakyat will result in a false sense of unity and harmony that is actually created by intimidation and a climate of fear. This perpetuates insecurity and suspicion amongst our citizenry, and does not augur well for the growth and maturity of our nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Call for Rational Debate of Hudud and Implementation of Syariah Compliant Govenment Policies on Non-Muslims

April 14, 2015

It is encouraging to find Malaysians across the race-and-religion divide coming together to call for rational debate on hudud and the related Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (1993) and affirming that:

– As all Malaysians, Muslims or non-Muslims, Kelantanese or non-Kelantanese, are rightful stakeholders in the enforcement of KSCC, no one should be penalised, threatened or ridiculed for having or expressing any opinion on the matter.

– The success of Islamic banking in winning over the hearts and minds of non-Muslims through rigour and proven benefits, rather than a deceiving assurance of non-Muslim exclusion or a sloppy “trial-and-error” attitude, should be an inspiring example.

– The implementation of KSCC must not be decided on a winner-takes-all manner, such as a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat, for this will risk tearing the country apart.

– The inclusive spirit of the Federal Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, which lay down the secular basis of the Federation of Malaysia, must be upheld.

First, the provisions of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code is so evidently ultra vires the Federal Constitution that there is a prima facie case to reject it out of hand. It is agreed that the call for rational dialogue should not be restricted to debating whether one should support or oppose hudud. It is a call to all Malaysians to respect the provision related to the status of Islam and other religions in the Federal Constitution which is premised on a secular framework. Put concretely, the starting point for dialogue should be the original intent of the Federal Constitution as a secular-state where there is no establishment of religion, or  provision for a dominating position for Islam. In this regard hudud or any Islamic law should not be part of our legal system, except in matters of personal law specifically enumerated in the Constitution. See related post: Malaysia Social Contract (Part 1): Religion and Equal Citizenship and Historic Documents on the drafting of the Constitution.

Second, the rational debate should publicly call into question not only the overt hudud agenda of the Kelantan government, but also the arguably, clandestine introduction of syariah compliant provisions in various State enactments in UMNO dominated State Legislative Assemblies (Dewan Undangan Negeri), and imposition of syariah compliant policies in the government departments affecting non-Muslims. Hudud naturally elicits strong and vocal opposition from all reasonable Malaysians as its implementation is an obvious and undeniable act of injustice against non-Muslims. In contrast, the introduction of syariah compliant laws and department policies are subtly and incrementally implemented so that non-Muslims remain unaware of the gradual erosion of their fundamental liberties.

In either case, the inclusive spirit and universal justice enshrined in the Federal Constitution would be shattered by the fatal blow of hudud, or gradually extinguished by the covertly introduced syariah compliant laws of the State Legislative Assemblies and government department policies.

Read the rest of this entry »

47 Prominent Sabahans Open Letter Urging Govt to Act Against Islamic Extremism

April 8, 2015

Excerpt from Open Letter: WE, a group of concerned Malaysian citizens in Sabah, would like to express our deep concerns at the Government’s response to the violations of religious freedom occurring in the context of misguided and extreme actions undertaken in the implementation of what is claimed to be policies for the inculcation of Islamic values.

We speak against the violation of our fundamental right and freedom of religion that has been promised and guaranteed to the people of Sabah.

Upsetting judicial decisions, unclear Government policies and aggressiveness of certain parties in promoting restrictions to our freedom of religion have caused uneasiness to Sabahans.

In Sabah and particularly in the interior, aggressive Islamisation activities are being carried out by both covert and overt means to convert especially natives through intimidation, deception, or inducement particularly targeting remote and poor villagers.

We Sabahans know that at the heart of it all is an exercise to suppress the voice of the majority genuine non-Muslim Sabahans, and to degenerate our native population and our freedom of religion.

Government departments and religious bodies have been asserting authority beyond their powers for far too long and such unlawful and oppressive practices simply must cease immediately.

Extreme and misguided actions in the name of Islamisation and religious intolerance is nothing but a threat to our national peace and stability. Read the rest of this entry »

Kelantan Hudud Enactment Betrayal of Malaysia Agreement

March 27, 2015

PRESS STATEMENT

SABAH COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

 

Press Statement
Press Statement on Kelantans Shariah Criminal Code II Enactment 1993 (amended 2015) passed by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly on 19 March 2015 (“Kelantan’s Hudud Enactment”)

imagesSabah Council of Churches _Press Statement on Kelantans Hudud Enactment_27 March 2015

We acknowledge the aspirations of some of our Muslim brothers and sisters, who consider the implementation of Hudud laws as a divine duty. However, there appears to be a divergence of opinion among our Muslim brothers and sisters on the proper innterpretations of Hudud laws, on whether such implementation is a religious imperative and if so, on the manner of its implementation.

Given the severity of the corporal punishments provided under recent Kelantan’s Hudud Enactment, it has inevitably generated much controversies. Among them are the legal difficulties arising from the conflict of laws, double jeopardy, qualifications of witnesses, federal versus state jurisdiction over criminal laws, etc. Although the Hudud Enactment is presently stated to be only applicable to the Muslims, we feel duty bound to express the deep concerns and anxieties of the Christian community in Sabah, who in recent years have struggled to navigate the ambiguous and uncertain state of the law on religious freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

Appeal Court Says Islam/Syariah Subject to Fundamental Liberties of Federal Constitution

January 22, 2015

Court: Islam subject to fundamental liberties Malaysiakini 22 Jan 2015

Although Islam is the religion of the federation in Malaysia, as defined under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, it is subject to the limitations of the fundamental liberties of a person, the Court of Appeal ruled today. In his 46-page written judgment on a case involving transgenders, Justice Mohd Hishamudin Yunus noted that Article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution declares the constitution as the supreme law and any law running contrary to the constitution shall be considered void…In this case, the judge said the word Islam in Article 3(1) should be given a restrictive meaning based on Article 3(4), which states that nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of the constitution…Although the enactment [Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 1992 ] is subject to syariah law, Justice Hishamuddin said interpretation of the Federal Constitution is a matter for the court, not for the syariah court. This is also in keeping with the Federal Court decision in Latifah Mat Zin vs Rosemawati Sharibun and another…“Their application involves the interpretation of the constitution; and that only the superior civil courts established under the Federal Constitution have the jurisdiction to determine disputes on the interpretation of the provisions therein (in the Federal Constitution). Read the rest of this entry »

Champion Open Debate and Discourse on Islamic law — 25 Prominent Malays

December 8, 2014

I salute moderate Muslims who voice their deep dismay over Islamic religious bodies asserting their authority beyond the jurisdiction laid down by the Federal Constitution.

The call for rational discourse and open debate goes beyond the Muslim community as the statement recognizes “a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways [emphasis added].” Indeed, non-Muslims are grievously affected when Shariah authorities impose policies that violate their fundamental liberties in the name of supremacy of Islam.

All concerned Malaysians should voice their support for this call for moderation and dialogue. Let’s remember, “all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent,” and “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” [Edmund Burke]

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Champion open debate and discourse on Islamic law — 25 prominent Malays The Malay Mail Online  8 Dec 2014

 

DECEMBER 8 — We, a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia, would like to express how disturbed and deeply dismayed we are over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country. The on-going debate over these matters display a lack of clarity and understanding on the place of Islam within our constitutional democracy. Moreover, they reflect a serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible Society Wants Selangor State Religious Authorities to Apologise for Desecrating Bible

December 7, 2014

Apologise for defiling holy books, Bible Society tells Selangor religious authorities. Excerpt from The Malaysian Insider 7 Dec 2014

The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) is demanding an apology from the Selangor religious authorities over the “desecration” of Bibles which were stamped following their seizure earlier this year.

The move comes as The Malaysian Insider reported this morning that Christian leaders were furious that the Bahasa Malaysia and Iban-language Bibles were stamped with a warning (pic, below)  that they were not to be published or used anywhere in Selangor, prior to the release of the books to Sarawak Christians last month.
Bible Stamped by MAIS Dec 2014

[Note on the stamp – In English, it reads: “Strictly for non-Muslims usage only and shall not be published or used in any part of the state of Selangor pursuant to section 9 (1) Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988″].
BSM president Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing said the stamping of the Bibles was contrary to Putrajaya’s assurance that such an incident would not recur, following a similar incident in 2011 in Sarawak.
“The incident has now recurred, this time perpetuated by the Selangor state religious officials. On both occasions, the Christian community has suffered the indignity of having its religious texts sullied and defiled,” Ng said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Constitution Supreme Over Syariah

November 13, 2014

Precis – In a nutshell, the constitutional position is that it is not enough for public authorities, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to have noble intentions. It is not enough for them to act in the name of God or religion. They must also stay within the substantive limits of their powers and observe all procedural requirements.

In a country with a supreme constitution, there is the additional requirement that the law under which their action was taken must not be in violation of the supreme Constitution, specifically of the provisions on fundamental rights, federal-state division of powers and legislative procedures.

The Constitution includes many fundamental rights in Articles 5-13.

Though Islam has the exalted position of being the religion of the federation, Article 3(4) says, “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution”. This means that Article 3(1) does not override any other provision of the Constitution. The decision in Che Omar Che Soh (1988) followed this provision: the Constitution, and not the syariah, is the litmus test of constitutionality. Read the rest of this entry »

Kota Kinabalu Declaration 2014 on Malaysia Day

September 18, 2014

Highlights

7 AND WHEREAS the proliferation of oppressive laws that violates our fundamental civil liberties continues unabated, the legislative, executive and the judiciary must take urgent measures to remove such offensive laws and selective prosecutions and to restore just, fair, and democratic principles of governance as envisaged by the framers of our Constitution and our founding fathers.

12 AND WHEREAS Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practised and people of other faiths shall have the constitutional right and freedom to profess, practise, propagate, and manage their respective faiths without interference and intervention by the State. 13 AND WHEREAS the Constitution provides for laws to be enacted for the administration of Islam, such laws shall not be applied to non-Muslims nor non-Muslims be subject to Shariah law.

14 AND WHEREAS freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and set out in the first of the 18 and 20-point conditions of Sarawak and Sabah respectively to be part of the Malaysia Agreement, but the legislative, executive and judiciary have persistently and wilfully trampled upon such rights of people of other faiths by making laws and decisions that militate against such freedom. The prohibition of the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by Bumiputera Christians to refer to the one true God and the restricted ban on the use of the Alkitab, the Malay language Bible, since the early 1980s are instances of gross violations of human rights.

19 AND WHEREAS there are extremist dakwah elements who undertake aggressive Islamisation by both covert and overt means to convert Bumiputera Christians through intimidation, deception, or inducements particularly targeting remote and poor villagers as well as conversions of school children living in government hostels. The National Registration Department despite its denials are also classifying native Christians with ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ in their names as Muslims in their MyKad without their knowledge or consent. Such unlawful and oppressive practices must stop immediately.

For the full declaration go to http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2014/09/kota-kinabalu-declaration-2014-on-malaysia-day/

 

 


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