Perkasa Demands Islamic Authorities Manage Interfaith Committee

Perkasa Demands Jakim Manage [sic] Inter-faith Panel LINK

by Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 2010 — Malay rights group Perkasa has demanded the Najib administration places its new inter-faith panel under the national Islamic Affairs Department, saying it rejected the entity in its current form.

Perkasa has earlier made demands on the government’s New Economic Model (NEM) but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak insists the group is “not so extreme”.

“We are suspicious of it, we reject the committee because this is religion we are talking about,” Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali told reporters after chairing the group’s meeting here.

The Independent Pasir Mas MP formed Perkasa two years ago, attracting Umno members who feel the Malay party is straying from its struggles of protecting and defending Malay rights and Islam.

Ibrahim said his group will tolerate the committee if it falls under the guidance of Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, the Islamic Affairs Minister under the Prime Minister’s Department and not Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who is currently the minister in charge.

“Because it has to do with religion, it should fall under the jurisdiction of Jakim or guided by Jamil and not Koh Tsu Koon,” stressed the Kelantanese leader, referring to the Islamic Affairs Department.

Although the committee has no legal bearing, Ibrahim contended that it will be powerful enough to influence the Cabinet.

He accused the committee is without “strong Islamic credentials” and inputs from other religions may threaten the sanctity of Islam.

His complaint was directed at panel chief Datuk Ilani Isahak, a renowned moderate Islamic scholar and former Kota Bharu MP whom Ibrahim said was not “a good choice” to head the body.

“So can you imagine what would happen to our akidah (faith), it will derail it. This is not something that you play around with, this is very sensitive to the Muslims,” he lamented.

The inter-faith committee had been mooted in the past before but was rejected by Jakim which argued that Islam is the country’s official religion and should not be placed on the same par as others.

Ibrahim reinforced Jakim’s argument today, saying it’s a “second subliminal attempt” to threaten Islam.

“Islam is a wahyu (God-sent) religion while others are based on logic of the mind,” he said.

His other contentious issue with the committee was that it has no approval from the Conference of Rulers, the country’s supreme Islamic authority.

The Perkasa president said he will lobby Najib to review the committee set-up and propose that the current committee be changed to an inter-racial committee and drop religion from its scope.

Perkasa will also send a memorandum of protest to the Conference of Rulers soon.

Earlier Related News
Govt agrees to inter-faith committee (update)
The STAR Tuesday April 6 2010 LINK
KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has agreed to the formation of a special inter-faith committee to promote better religious understanding between Islam and other religious faiths.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the committee will be headed by former Kota Baru MP Datuk Ilani Isahak, who will be appointed as the special coordinator.

Members will comprise representatives from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim) and the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

“The committee is not a legal structure; it’s not a rigid structure. It’s a framework to provide exchange of ideas on religion.

“We don’t want to call it an inter-faith panel, but a special committee to promote understanding and harmony among the various faiths.

“The idea of the committee is for the members to hold informal dialogues, not on only one issue, but also matters such as inter-marriages, religious conversions as well as custody of children.

“The committee will exchange their views and we will get feedback and get a better understanding on religious issues,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday.

Dr Koh, who is charge of national unity and integrity, said he will report the committee’s activities to the Cabinet from time to time.

He added the formation of the committee was first proposed in January and the Cabinet gave its approval in February.

There have been numerous calls for the formation of an inter-faith panel aimed at promoting religious understanding.

The calls became much louder following the controversy over a High Court ruling on the use of the word “Allah” by The Herald , a publication by the Catholic church.

However, the idea for the formation of an inter-faith council was rejected by various Muslim groups.

Dr Koh said Ilani was chosen to head the committee because she had good personal contacts with the country’s religious leaders.

“We decided this will be the best set-up rather than involving politicians. Let the religious leaders sit down and talk to each other,” he added.

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From BERNAMA LINK

April 06, 2010

Ilani Isahak To Lead Inter-religious Committee – Koh

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 (Bernama) — The Cabinet has decided to appoint former Kota Bharu MP Datuk Ilani Isahak to chair the inter-religious committee to promote mutual understanding and harmony among the religions.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the committee functioned under the National Unity and Integration Department as a secretariat and would report to him as minister in charge, before he submitted it to the Cabinet.

He said the committee, which was set up in February, this year, involved representatives from the Islamic Development Department, Institute of Islamic Understanding and Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

“They will sit together to exchange views and discuss issues, and prevent unnecessary misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This (committee) is not legal structure, is not rigid structure…this is framework to provide interaction for interchange of ideas.

“We (government) does not want to call it inter-faith panel, but a special committee to promote understanding and harmony among them,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here Tuesday.

Koh said, among issues discussed in the committee were those related to inter-marriage, conversion and child custody.

“These issues would be worked upon by the government through the various departments, in line with the various related laws and guidelines.

“So, these are the things we will get to look into, and also to let them exchange views to have better understanding,” he added.

He said the committee was allowed to propose any recommendation on inter-religious issues to his department.

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2 Responses to “Perkasa Demands Islamic Authorities Manage Interfaith Committee”

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