JAIS-DUMC Controversy – Was the Sultan Not Properly Informed?
**This article also appeared:
The Christian community has waited with anticipation for DYMM Sultan of Selangor, to come out with a statement that will help resolve the inter-religious crisis sparked off by the JAIS raid on DUMC on 3 August, 2011.
We welcome the Sultan’s wish that religious harmony should continue in the state and his decree that there be no prosecution against any of the parties involved.
However, the Sultan’s statement does raise a few issues of serious concern for the non-Muslim community as there are views expressed therein that suggest that the Sultan may not have been properly informed by his advisers.
First, the statement suggests that “the actions of JAIS were correct and did not breach any laws enforceable in Selangor,” as they “are in line with the jurisdiction provided under Syariah Criminal Procedure (State of Selangor) Enactment (2003), Syariah Criminal (State of Selangor) Enactment, 1995 and the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment of 1988” (herein referred to as the “Selangor Enactment”)
With all due respect, I beg to differ from this interpretation of the State Enactments. In the first place, the jurisdiction granted by Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution was to permit the state to control or restrict the propagation of religion among people professing to be Muslims. This must be read in the context of the Article itself which fundamentally provides for every person the freedom to profess, practice and propagate his religion. Such power to control or restrict propagation cannot be understood as absolutely prohibiting any conduct or activity on the excuse of some unspecified complaint that they are for the purposes of propagation of religion. Such power cannot be taken as licence for officials to intrude or trespass into a function conducted within the premises of what is clearly a non-Muslim religious institution (in the present case a Christian institution) without legal authority
There is no legal provision under the Propagation Enactment that allows JAIS officials to intrude into the premises of DUMC, much less carry out a raid. From my reading of the Selangor Enactment (1988), the closest possible justification that can be offered by JAIS are sections 12 and 13 which specify that “an authorised officer may investigate the commission of any offence under this Enactment and may arrest without warrant any person suspected of having committed any such offence.”
He may also apply for warrants of arrest from a Magistrate to require the attendance of witnesses. There is however, simply no unilateral power to carry out an entry and search under the Propagation Enactment or for that matter even to apply for a search warrant. If the officer responsible for the raid intends to conduct an entry and search he must base his power from some legal source. JAIS officers appear to have acted under Syariah Enactment which however does NOT apply to non-Muslims and cannot be imported into the Propagation Enactment.
While superficially this provision seems to grant disturbing power to this “authorised officer”, the enforcement must be consistent with the more fundamental provisions under Part II of the Federal Constitution relating to fundamental liberties and the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593) relating to search and arrest which presumes that a search warrant should have been sought as a matter of course, and that the warrant is granted only upon reasonable suspicion that a seizable offence has been committed at the DUMC premises. The requirement of a search warrant is a fundamental recognition of the right to privacy within one’s own domain and space.
More importantly, given the sensitivity of inter-religious relations and the sanctity of religious places of worship, such a warrant should be granted only by a magistrate or judge from the Civil Court and only upon firm and clear grounds.
The fact remains that JAIS carried out the raid with disregard for established provisions and procedure of law – the leader of the JAIS party failed to present relevant identity documents to confirm he was indeed “an authorized officer”, specify the offence(s) or suspected offence(s) relating to propagation under the Selangor Enactment that was alleged to have been committed and that he had obtained a search warrant from a Magistrate or the High Court, especially when a church was the target of the raid. For these reasons, it may be argued contrary to the Sultan’s statement, that prima facie, JAIS had not acted lawfully within the bounds of law when it raided DUMC.
Second, it should be noted that the statement claims “there were attempts to subvert the faith and belief of Muslims but that the evidence obtained would be insufficient for further legal actions to be taken.” The plural word “attempts” suggests Christians at DUMC were guilty of subverting Islam not only on 3 August 2011, but that they were repeatedly committing the alleged offence. This is a most unfair and misleading accusation that imputes guilt to DUMC without offering any evidence that could be verified or refuted.
It may be noted that the English version of the Sultan’s statement uses stronger words than the official Bahasa version – it translates the word “memesongkan (distort, deviate) fahaman dan kepercayaan fahaman orang Islam” with the word “subvert the faith and belief of Muslims”
The statement unwittingly exposes the feeble foundations of its accusations when it concedes that there was insufficient evidence obtained for further legal action. In simple terms, this must means that JAIS had FAILED to make a prima facie case against DUMC. I may add that despite the attempt to hide behind the legal term of “insufficient evidence”, the reality is that there was simply NO evidence of subversion of the Islamic faith. Beating a hasty retreat from the threat of prosecuting DUMC was the best option left for JAIS.
Third, it is alarming that the statement describes the activities of DUMC as subversion of the Islamic faith. This charge is injurious to the integrity of Christians with regard to their profession and practice of faith.
Regarding integrity of profession of the Christian faith: Christians at DUMC have never pretended to be teaching any religion other than Christianity. DUMC is, after all, a church. Christians have every right to uphold their beliefs and practice their faith and while doing so, should not be judged as subverting or deviating /Memesongkan fahaman Islamic beliefs on account of the doctrinal differences between the two religions. Following the logic of JAIS, Christians could equally have charged Muslims for subverting the Christian faith when Muslims preach a faith different from Christians.
Regarding practice of faith: Christians are well known for their social work that flows from their belief in the love of God for the poor and needy. As the Bible says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Hence, the press statement from DUMC says, “DUMC conducts all its activities to serve the community and for the welfare of all Malaysians regardless of creed, race or religion.”
It is therefore alarming when JAIS casts aspersions against the charity work done by Christians and claims that Christians are subverting Islamic beliefs on account of their good works. It may well be the case that some needy Muslims have availed themselves to the good services offered by DUMC, and DUMC obviously cannot turn them away simply because they happen to be Muslims. DUMC may well be charged for promoting religious disharmony if it makes religion a factor before anyone can receive welfare. On the other hand, Christians may well be advised to stop their work that may incline a Muslim to view the Christian faith favourably since this would incur the wrath of JAIS officials. At best, the Sultan’s statement can be misconstrued by mischievous parties and exploited to misrepresent the altruistic intention of Christians; at worst, it maligns the welfare work of Christians.
Therefore, we welcome the announcement made by the Mentri Besar of Selangor, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, that the Selangor government will set up a special committee to fine-tune the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) followed by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) in handling attempts to proselytise Muslims.
We hope the committee will come up with recommendations that will 1) ensure JAIS fully understands and observes the bounds of its authority, that is, that it has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims, and 2) any investigation of non-Muslims leading to intervention by the Islamic authorities should follow a proper procedure and law, including obtaining a search warrant granted by senior judicial officials from a religiously neutral institution such as a Magistrate or a High Court judge.
Otherwise, the government ends up surreptitiously investing illegitimate and excessive authority to Islamic officials over non-Muslims. The consequences will be abuse of power, and insensitive and provocative actions against non-Muslim believers as seen in the case of the JAIS raid of DUMC.
We do well to listen respectfully and sympathetically to the appeal from the victim of religious abuse, in this case DUMC, when it says in its media statement, “We sincerely ask that all religious communities and places of worship be treated with utmost respect and not be intruded upon.”
Dr. Ng Kam Weng
Kairos Research Centre
12 October 2011
Statement from DYMN Sultan of Selangor
D.Y.M.M. SULTAN SHARAFUDDIN DIRIS SHAH
SULTAN OF SELANGOR DARUL EHSAN
We, the Head of the Religion of Islam in the State of Selangor, take great concern over the actions by the Enforcement Division of the Selangor Department of the Religion of Islam (JAIS) which carried out a search at the Thanksgiving Dinner event which was held at Hall 3, Dream Centre Complex, Section 13, Petaling Jaya on 3 August 2011.
We hope that the people of Selangor regardless of race and religion do not misconstrue and dispute the actions of JAIS before knowing exactly the true facts of the actions taken.
As the State Department responsible for the enforcement of Islamic Laws in the State, JAIS has the heavy task of ensuring that the Religion of Islam in Selangor is always protected and given prestige, in line with its position as the Religion of the State of Selangor under Article XLVII of the Laws of the Constitution of Selangor, 1959, as well as the religion of the Federation under Clause (1) Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.
JAIS has submitted to Us the full report of the search carried out at the Dream Centre Complex, Section 13, Petaling Jaya as well as the subsequent actions taken by JAIS. We have thoroughly read in detail the said report and We are satisfied that the actions of JAIS were correct and did not breach any laws enforceable in Selangor.
The actions of JAIS are in line with the jurisdiction provided under Syariah Criminal Procedure (State of Selangor) Enactment, 2003, Syariah Criminal (State of Selangor) Enactment, 1995 and Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment, 1988.
The Religion of Islam as practiced in Selangor is one of tolerance. Muslims are always encouraged to respect the believers of other religions. However, persons or parties cannot take the opportunity to spread other religions to Muslims. This is in line with Clause (1) and (4) Article 11 of the Federal Constitution and Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment, 1988, which prohibits the spread of other religions to Muslims.
Article XLVII of the Laws of the Constitution of Selangor 1959, Clause (1) Article 3 and Clause (1) Article 11 of the Federal Constitution have given the freedom to believers of other religions to practice their beliefs in peace and harmony. This freedom has been practised in harmony in this State. We wish that this harmony, which has existed for a long time, will continue to exist. Protect your rights and religion and do not attempt to subvert the belief and faith of Muslims.
Based on the investigations by JAIS, there is evidence that there were attempts to subvert the faith and belief of Muslims but that the evidence obtained would be insufficient for further legal actions to be taken. Therefore, after carefully deliberating the report by JAIS and after obtaining advice from religious authorities and legal experts, We are in agreement that there would be no prosecution against any parties.
Even so, We command that JAIS provide counselling to Muslims who were involved in the said Dinner, to restore their belief and faith in the Religion of Islam. We also command JAIS to carry out preaching to Muslims in a more regular and organised manner so that their belief and faith towards Islam is protected and enhanced.
We hope that after this, any and all activities being carried out or which are going to be carried out for the purposes of spreading other religions to Muslims in Selangor must be ceased immediately and no further activities or anything similar to them are carried out in the future.
We, the Head of the Religion of Islam in the State of Selangor, is gravely concerned and extremely offended by the attempts of certain parties to weaken the faith and belief of Muslims in the State of Selangor. We command that Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) and JAIS always conduct thorough observations and to take necessary actions without hesitation in line with the jurisdiction allowed under the law.
We also wish to take this opportunity to thank all parties who were concerned with this issue and to those who have given their cooperation and undivided support to JAIS.
H.R.H. Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj
The Sultan of Selangor
Statement in Bahasa Malaysia
D.Y.M.M. SULTAN SHARAFUDDIN IDRIS SHAH ALHAJ
Beta selaku Ketua Agama Islam Negeri Selangor amat mengambil berat di atas tindakan yang dilakukan oleh Bahagian Penguatkuasan, Jabatan Agama Islam, Selangor (JAIS) yang telah menjalankan pemeriksaan ke atas majlis ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ yang diadakan di Dewan 3, Kompleks Dream Centre, Seksyen 13, Petaling Jaya pada 3 Ogos 2011 yang lalu.
Beta amat berharap agar rakyat Negeri Selangor tanpa mengira bangsa dan agama tidak menyalahanggap dan mempertikaikan tindakan JAIS tersebut sebelum mengetahui dengan jelas fakta sebenar mengenai tindakan yang telah diambil oleh pihak JAIS.
Sebagai sebuah Jabatan Kerajaan Negeri yang bertanggungjawab menguatkuasakan undang-undang Islam dalam Negeri ini, JAIS mempunyai tugas yang berat untuk memastikan Agama Islam dalam Negeri Selangor ini sentiasa dipelihara dan dimartabatkan selaras dengan kedudukan Agama Islam sebagai agama Negeri Selangor di bawah Perkara XLVII Undang-Undang Tubuh Kerajaan Selangor, 1959 dan juga agama Persekutuan di bawah Fasal (1) Perkara 3 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
Pihak JAIS telah menyembahkan kepada Beta laporan penuh mengenai pemeriksaan yang telah dijalankan di kompleks Dream Centre, Seksyen 13, Petaling Jaya tersebut dan juga tindakan susulan yang telah diambil oleh JAIS. Beta sendiri telah meneliti laporan tersebut dengan terperinci dan Beta berpuas hati bahawa tindakan JAIS tersebut adalah betul dan tidak menyalahi mana-mana undang-undang yang berkuat kuasa di Negeri Selangor ini.
Tindakan JAIS tersebut adalah selaras dengan bidang kuasa yang diperuntukkan di bawah Enakmen Tatacara Jenayah Syariah (Negeri Selangor) 2003, Enakmen Jenayah Syariah (Negeri Selangor) 1995 dan Enakmen Ugama Bukan Islam (Kawalan Perkembangan di Kalangan Orang Islam) Negeri Selangor, 1988.
Agama Islam yang diamalkan dalam Negeri Selangor ini adalah sebuah agama yang penuh toleransi. Penganut agama Islam sentiasa dipupuk agar menghormati penganut-penganut agama lain. Walaupun begitu, mana-mana pihak tidak boleh mengambil kesempatan untuk cuba mengembangkan ajaran agama lain kepada penganut Agama Islam. Ini adalah selaras dengan Fasal (1) dan (4) Perkara 11 Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan Enakmen Ugama Bukan Islam (Kawalan Perkembangan di Kalangan Orang Islam) Negeri Selangor, 1988 yang tidak membenarkan pengembangan ajaran agama lain kepada penganut Agama Islam.
Perkara XLVII Undang-Undang Tubuh, Kerajaan Selangor 1959, Fasal (1) Perkara 3 dan Fasal (1) Perkara 11 Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah memberikan hak kebebasan beragama kepada penganut agama lain untuk mengamalkan ajaran agama mereka masing-masing dengan aman dan harmoni. Hak kebebasan tersebut telah pun berjalan dengan penuh harmoni dalam Negeri ini. Beta amat berharap keharmonian tersebut yang telah wujud sekian lama terus dikekalkan. Peliharalah hak dan agama masing-masing dan jangan sekali-kali cuba mempengaruhi dan memesongkan fahaman dan kepercayaan orang Islam terhadap agama Islam.
Merujuk kepada siasatan pihak JAIS, terdapat keterangan bahawa ada cubaan untuk memesongkan kepercayaan dan aqidah umat Islam. Tetapi keterangan yang diperolehi tidak mencukupi untuk tindakan undang-undang diambil. Oleh itu setelah meneliti dengan secara mendalam laporan oleh pihak JAIS dan setelah mendapat nasihat dari pakar-pakar agama dan undang-undang, Beta bersetuju tiada pendakwaan terhadap mana-mana pihak.
Walau bagaimanapun Beta menitahkan JAIS memberikan kaunseling kepada orang Islam yang terlibat dalam majlis tersebut supaya aqidah dan kepercayaan mereka terhadap Agama Islam dapat dipulihkan. Beta juga menitahkan JAIS supaya menjalankan aktiviti dakwah terhadap orang Islam dengan lebih kerap dan tersusun supaya aqidah dan kepercayaan mereka terhadap Agama Islam dapat dipelihara dan dipertingkatkan.
Beta amat berharap selepas daripada ini, apa-apa kegiatan dan aktiviti yang sedang berjalan atau yang akan berjalan bagi tujuan mengembangkan ajaran agama lain kepada penganut Agama Islam dalam Negeri Selangor ini hendaklah dihentikan segera dan tiada kegiatan dan aktiviti yang serupa dijalankan di masa hadapan.
Sesungguhnya Beta selaku Ketua Agama Islam Negeri Selangor ini amat mengambil berat dan berasa amat tersinggung dengan usaha-usaha pihak tertentu yang cuba untuk melemahkan kepercayaan dan aqidah orang Islam dalam Negeri Selangor ini. Beta menitahkan Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) dan JAIS supaya sentiasa mengadakan pemantauan rapi dan mengambil tindakan sewajarnya tanpa perlu teragak-agak lagi selaras dengan bidang kuasa yang diperuntukkan di bawah undang-undang.
Beta juga ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua pihak yang telah mengambil berat berkaitan isu ini dan yang telah memberikan kerjasama dan sokongan yang tidak berbelah bahagi kepada JAIS.
D.Y.M.M. Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj