Archive for the ‘Human Rights Fundamental Liberties’ Category

Media Statement by MP Baru Bian on Curtailment of Religious of Non-Muslims

September 9, 2021

MEDIA STATEMENT – 9 SEPTEMBER 2021

UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO CURTAIL RIGHTS OF NON-MUSLIMS

The announcement by Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s department (religious affairs) that the federal government is drafting a bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions is an unwelcome piece of news for all non-Muslims in Malaysia, and especially in Sarawak. This is like a recurring nightmare that won’t go away, and reliving it this close to Malaysia day certainly gives us more reason to reflect on wisdom or otherwise of the decision taken by Sarawak in 1963.

Yesterday’s statement by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) on this matter points out correctly that Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution gives the right to every person: “to profess and practise his religion and, subject to clause (4), to propagate it”. Clause (4) provides that there is to be no propagation of other religions doctrine or belief to Muslims. Clearly, the Constitution safeguards the right of non-Muslims to practise and propagate their religions so long as that does not involve Muslims. I strongly support the call by the MCCBCHST that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakub clarify the issue, as it has caused much unhappiness and anxiety for the non-Muslims in this country.

I note that the deputy minister had remarked that the bill was in response to the recent High Court decision that non-Muslims are free to use the word ‘Allah’. That decision is consistent with what we understand to be the rights of all Malaysians under the Federal Constitution and particularly the rights of Sarawakians and Sabahans pursuant to the recommendations set out in the Inter Governmental Committee Report 1962 and the terms of the Malaysian Agreement 1963. During the talks leading to the formation of Malaysia, the non-Muslim communities of Sarawak had voiced their reservations about Islam being the religion of the Federation. It was finally agreed that ‘While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in Sarawak, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Sarawak’. The absence of a state religion was key to Sarawak’s agreement to join in the formation Malaysia in 1963, a fact which all political leaders should bear in mind. There is no official religion in Sarawak, and all are free to profess and practise the faith of their choosing.

De facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar sought to downplay the issue, saying that religious matters are under state lists and such laws propagated by the Federal government are not legally binding on states. This does not address the issue of why the government keeps attempting to violate the rights of non-Muslims which are entrenched in the Federal Constitution. It is not good enough to brush the matter aside by saying some politicians shoot their mouths off. As the de facto law minister and a Sarawakian, he has to give us a better and more reassuring response that he and all the other Sarawakian ministers and deputy ministers will speak up against the bills when they are presented at the cabinet level. Better still, he should advise the deputy minister in the prime minister’s department against proceeding with it at this early stage.

Sarawakian MPs from GPS and Bersatu must take note that all Sarawakians are watching them closely – will they have the courage to stand up for our rights or will they be meek and mild minions to their Malayan masters? This is a crucial test for them. The direction the country has been heading is certainly not what our forefathers signed up for and Sarawakians are weary and bitterly resentful of certain Malayan politicians’ unceasing efforts to oppress the minority’s rights. We are slowing but surely becoming a country where religious and racial intolerance is increasing, and religious extremism growing. Passing more laws to control and restrict religious freedoms only encourages religious intolerance and bigotry.

This latest move by the government makes a mockery of the ‘Malaysian Family’ concept propounded by the new PM in his maiden speech. It will divide rather than unite Malaysians.

Baru Bian
MP 214 Selangau

On the Secular State Debate: G-25 Responds to Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

February 1, 2020

On the secular state debate: A response to Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil — G25 Malaysia

Malaymail Online 27 Jan 2020

Dr Mohamed Azam outlines three arguments as he challenges G-25 which says that Malaysia is a secular state.

1. First, he asserts that the Federal Constitution does not contain, or make any reference to, the word ‘secular’, and in fact, it is only the religion of Islam that is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.

2. Second, he asserts that Article 3(1) which places Islam in a ‘special’ position favours those who argue that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

3. Finally, Dr Mohamed Azam justifies his position by referring to the then Supreme Court decision in Che Omar bin Che Soh, the High Court decision in Meor Atiqulrahman, etc.

 

G-25 Responds:

First, just because a state is not explicitly characterised as ‘secular’ in its constitution does not detract from the fact that it is ‘secular’.

Likewise, the fact that a state privileges a particular religion (perhaps, as in Malaysia, to give recognition to the cultural and historical significance of the privileged religion in the country) does not mean that it is not a secular state.

Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi argues that Islam as the religion of the Federation in the Constitution does not prevail over other constitutional provisions and guarantees, including fundamental liberties. This has to be read together with Article 4, which provides that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. What this means, simply, is that any laws (including Islamic laws promulgated by the Parliament or state legislatures) are null and void if they are contrary to the Constitution. (more…)

Hadi’s Bill-Amendment to Act355 Will Affect Non-Muslims

March 8, 2017

**Please note that materials from this site will eventually be consolidated and transferred to my more active blog: Krisis and Praxis 

Hadi’s Bill Will Affect Non-Muslims, Says Kelantan Lawyer

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar FMT News March 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: To find out whether PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill affects non-Muslims, just take a look at Kelantan, says a lawyer from the state.

Nik Elin Rashid said events showed that shariah laws were being imposed on non-Muslim citizens in the PAS-led state. For example, she said a non-Muslim owner of a watch shop had been fined for displaying a poster of Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai with her hair uncovered.
In the past, when cinemas were allowed in Kelantan, she said the movies screened only showed actresses with covered hair.
Nik Elin said the PAS government in Kelantan did not take steps to ensure shariah laws applied only to Muslims.

“Instead, they set the laws through the city councils which then implemented the policies, such as that anyone who wants to work in a supermarket must cover her hair,” Nik Elin said at a forum on a public action plan against the amendments to Act 355, in Brickfields here last night….

Bebas spokesman Azrul Mohd Khalib, who was present, said because the amended laws for Muslims would be disproportionately harsher, they would eventually be imposed on non-Muslims as well. “You’re going to hear people say it’s not fair, we want things equal as is stipulated under the Federal Constitution.” (more…)

CFM Media Statement on Threats of Violence & Intimidation Against People of Faith

February 19, 2017

Please pray for Pastor Raymond Koh and his family.

cfm-statement-violence-intimidation-threats-2017

To download the pdf file: imagescfm-statement-violence-intimidation-threats-2017

Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG

February 10, 2017

** You may be interested to visit  www.krisispraxis.com to read full post and comment it:

Shariah Law as no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG.

UMNO will be lending a helping hand to PAS to push a Bill through Parliament which would amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355. The amendments would extend power to the Islamic courts to enforce heavier punishment for Islamic offences. PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang and UMNO leaders assure non-Muslims that the proposed amendments will not affect non-Muslims. Re: Hadi to Make More Amendments to Shariah Bill] [FMT 23 Nov 2016]

Non-Muslims are naturally skeptical towards the assurances from PAS and UMNO. Both the local and international media have sounded the alarm that the amendments would encourage further imposition of Islamic regulations onto non-Muslims.

The reality is that the Civil services and shariah authorities have periodically taken the liberty to impose Islamic scruples and regulations onto non-Muslims, even though they are technically not empowered to do so. Having been victimized by ‘over-zealous’ officials from both the Civil services and shariah authorities (who are never taken to task for their abuse of power), non-Muslims can only regard the assurance from Hadi and UMNO leaders to be both hollow and disingenuous.

It is sobering to recall some of these alarming incidents. (more…)

Be Assured that Syariah Law WILL be Imposed on non-Muslims

August 10, 2016

PAS politicians and some UMNO government officials repeatedly assure non-Muslims that that Syariah law will not be applied to them even as Abdul Hadi Awang tables the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016 to widen the scope of the criminal jurisdiction of Syariah Courts. However, non-Muslims have reasons to doubt whether the assurance is empty, if not disingenuous, when the authorities in Kelantan and officials in various government departments repeatedly impose public policies that infringe on the fundamental liberties of non-Muslims. It is the duty of every conscientious Member of Parliament to reject any proposed legislation that violates the provisions in the Federal Constitution that protect the rights of non-Muslims and Muslims against punitive criminal actions based on religious precepts.

Beware when the wolf ‘courteously’ invites the lamb for supper in his den when it is seen sharpening its claws and teeth.

Read also Shad Faruqi’s analysis on the wider implications of the Syariah Courts Amendment Bill given below: Enhancing Syariah Courts’ Powers. (more…)

National Security Council (NSC) Act : A Lurch Towards Authoritarian Government

August 1, 2016

Press Release (3 Dec 2015): The National Security Council Bill 2015 is a Lurch Towards an Authoritarian Government

This item has been updated since initial publication.

The Malaysian Bar is alarmed by the proposed National Security Council Bill 2015 (“the Bill”) that was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on 1 December 2015 by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Shahidan Kassim, and which is reportedly scheduled for its second reading today.  The basis for this new law is unclear, and the manner in which it is being rushed through the Dewan Rakyat is inexcusable.

The Bill is an insidious piece of legislation that confers and concentrates vast executive powers in a newly created statutory body called the National Security Council (“NSC”). (more…)

MCCBCHST: WE REJECT THE PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL ON HUDUD

June 1, 2016

Henceforth, the new Hudud Bill or the “Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016” that is tabled in Parliament should be called UMNO-PAS Hudud Bill. After all, without special assistance from UMNO, the Bill that was tabled by PAS (Hadi) would not get a chance to be debated in Parliament. If passed, the Bill will place the Federal Constitution on a slippery slide leading to a Shariah dominated Constitution. Malaysia will go the way of Pakistan where religious minorities (Christians) are often subject to false accusations and punishment under the Islamic Blasphemy Law. Nearer home, we should be alarmed at the prospect of non-Muslims being caned for  ‘violating’ Islamic offences: Re: “Woman, 60, Caned for Selling Alcohol in Aceh” StraitsTimes (14 April 2016); See Also “For First Time in Indonesia, non-Muslim Caned under Islamic law” LosAngelesTimes (16 April 2016). (more…)

CFM Against Curbing Religious Expression and Increasing Religious Repression

May 22, 2015

CFM MEDIA STATEMENT images

CFM Statement Against Increasing Religious Repression May2015

CFM AGAINST SHRINKING PUBLIC SPACE FOR RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AND INCREASING RELIGIOUS REPRESSION
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) has observed with deep concern the ever-shrinking public space for religious expression in Malaysia. The CFM also notes the worrying trend of curbing freedom of religious expressions without prior consultation with stakeholders. The overall environment of religious acceptance and understanding deteriorates as the country is dragged from one incident of intolerance to another.

 
The recent controversy surrounding the demand by a group of Muslims for the removal of the sign of the cross from a church in Taman Medan in Selangor is but the latest expression of that intolerance. Even the central symbol of our faith, the cross, which is the symbol of love and sacrifice of God for humankind is now seen or projected by some as a threat. It joins the list of other expressions of intolerance, including a continuing push for prohibition against religious words and expressions in Bahasa Malaysia which have been commonly used in Christian worship even before our nation was born. There is the fear that common parlance results in influence, propagation and conversion. This fear has caused tension and has led to numerous incidents in recent years where copies of the Al-Kitab, our sacred book, were detained or out-rightly seized, only to be returned after they were mutilated by endorsements of prohibitive words.

 
Worse, it is now proposed that the importation of the Al-Kitab be subject to newly-announced administrative requirements and procedures in Sabah and Sarawak albeit in draft form for discussion. The latest edition of these administrative requirements contain outright prohibitions of importation of the Al-Kitab into Peninsular Malaysia, save for personal use, in total violation of the Federal Constitution’s protection for freedom of religion.

(more…)

New curbs for Malay Bibles

April 29, 2015

MALAYSIAKINI By Bob Teoh 29 April 2015

Putrajaya has unilaterally introduced new curbs on the import of the Alkitab, or the Malay-language Bible, under the Home Ministry’s new SOP or standard operating procedures. It also affects the import and use of other Malay-language Christian publications.

But Joseph Kurup, the de facto national unity minister who unveiled the SOP last week is quick to assure church leaders that Barisan Nasional is “sworn” to protect their freedom of religion as guaranteed by the federal constitution.

This is far from the truth. The new SOP specifically targets Christians and concerns mainly the import and use of the Alkitab. Such imports are now subject to a law that was originally intended only for Muslims – the Printing of Qur’anic Texts Act 1986. Importers must now apply to the Qura’nic Text Division of the Home Ministry which has the final say whether such imports are allowed.

The sole criterion is that such publications cannot contain the word ‘Allah’. This is clearly in contravention of constitutional provisions for freedom of religion.

Article 11 (3a) of the federal constitution states, among other things, “Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs.” The right for Malay-speaking bumiputra Christians to have their own Scriptures in the Malay language is an inalienable universal human right and Putrajaya should not interfere in ecclesiastical matters of other faiths. Two-thirds of the church in Malaysia comprise Malay-speaking bumiputras in East Malaysia.

What is alarming is that the new SOP comes at a time when the very constitutionality of the prohibition of the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer God by Bumiputra Christians is still being litigated in the courts known as the Jill Ireland Sarawak and Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah cases. To introduce the new SOP at this stage smacks of not only religious hegemony and arrogance but it also borders on contempt. (more…)