The dispute between the Sabah-Sarawak churches and the government over the rights of Christians to use the “Allah” word in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Alkitab) has lasted more than 10 years. The Malaysian church leaders continue to reach out to government officials to find an amicable solution even as they await the judgment of the court in two cases where Sarawak and Sabah Christians sued the government for their right to use the word in the Alkitab.
The dispute has lasted so long that it no longer garners attention as front-page news. Not surprisingly, many young Christian leaders today fail to understand the fundamental concerns that compelled the church leaders to bring the dispute to court – the dispute over the “Allah” word would not have arisen if the Malaysian authorities acknowledge the undeniable historical fact that Christians in Malaysia who use the word are merely following the honorable tradition of Arabic Christians who have been using the word for centuries long before the advent of Islam. By prohibiting Christians from addressing their God as “Allah”, the Malaysian authorities are violating common sense and human courtesy.
Many Malaysians were disappointed when the Federal Court ruled that apostasy matters should be decided by the Shariah Court and not the Civil Court, and dismissed the application by four Sarawakians for a court order to direct the National Registration Department (NRD) to recognize and register them as Christians. [Re: Federal Court defers to Shariah courts in Sarawak apostasy cases]
Several church leaders have called for peaceful acceptance of the Court judgment as the law should be upheld and peace maintained in our society. Hopefully, Parliament will table amendments to ensure that the law is more just and equitable in matters of religious liberty for all citizens.
We should not miss a more fundamental concern in the Court controversy, that is, religious liberty has become a tenuous legacy for Malaysian democracy with the introduction of new shariah-compliant laws which authorize the state bureaucracy to extend its powers to regulate the private morality and religious activities of its citizens. It has become painfully clear that any intervention by the government inevitably restricts the religious liberty of citizens. Continue reading “Religious Liberty and Limited State Bureaucracy: The Logic of Locke”
Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of Centhra explained to TheMalaysianInsight that his call for a ban on evangelicalism was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity. He added that “there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security.” [Azril: Why I said Christian Evangelicalism Should be Banned]
Azril’s charge against Evangelicalism is logically flawed and legally unjust. First, even if there are 400 cases of conversion before the shariah court, he has provided no evidence that they are converted by Evangelicals. Rather than blaming Evangelicals, an educated person like Azril should recognize that these people could be influenced by a variety of powerful media sources or by people they meet when they travel overseas, rather than by a small Christian movement like Evangelicalism in Malaysia. Second, Azril’s argument is logically flawed. Let me explain his flawed logic. Continue reading “Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.”
Prominent leaders in Sabah and Sarawak have refuted claims that amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, or RUU355, will not affect non-Malays and Muslims in the two states.
Writing in an open letter, they urged the people to preserve the country as a secular state and to reject Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend RUU355. The letter, signed by 20 leaders including politicians, former civil servants and the G25 group of eminent Malays, was made available in four languages – English, Malay, Kadazandusun and Iban.
Malaysia, they said, was founded together with Sabah and Sarawak as a secular federation, in which Islam as the “religion of the federation” only played a ceremonial role.
“Lest we forget, religious freedom was stressed and assured in the merger negotiations of Malaysia. Hudud punishments were never placed on the agenda. “Had hudud punishments been on the cards, the Malaysia project would have likely been rejected by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak,” they added.
Introducing hudud, they warned, would breach both the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution…“Together with the disproportionality of the offences and punishments, the introduction of these three hudud punishments (in Kelantan and Terengganu) will qualitatively alter the secular nature of the legal system,” they said. Sabahan and Sarawakian Muslims working and living in Peninsular Malaysia would also be subjected to hudud, they added…
“For Malaysia’s sake and to preserve our country as a secular federation, we must say no to Bill 355,” they said.
Non-Muslims Decline Invitation to Have Tea in Shariah Parlour
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.” Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
PAS and UMNO politicians are quick to reprimand non-Muslims for refusing to support their proposal to amend Act 355, despite being given assurances that the Act will not affect non-Muslims. These politicians ignore the fact that non-Muslims have good reasons to be wary of enhanced shariah courts since their freedom has been violated many times by Shariah officials. See Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG (HAM-BAK)!
Non-Muslims are eminently reasonable when they argue they should have a genuine say in drafting laws that impact their lives, and that it is the civil court rather than the shariah court that should be enhanced since only the civil court can provide a fair and natural platform to ensure equal protection under the law for citizens from diverse religions seeking to forge a common life in a plural society.
Non-Muslims remain wary of Muslim legislators who have demonstrated that they are prepared to act unilaterally as they press ahead with Shariah-complaint laws with a view of imposing them on non-Muslims. Given below are two further examples of disturbing rhetoric from Muslim legislators who insist that Shariah law should be applied to non-Muslims. This rhetoric can only heighten the anxieties of non-Muslims.
While the proposed amendments does not mention the word “hudud” nevertheless, the far-reaching provisions would permit the introduction of hudud law and hudud-prescribed punishments in Malaysia
Excepts from CFM Fact Sheet on Hudud Amendmenet Act 355:
7. The current proposed amendments deal only with the increase in the existing punishments. It is proposed that the current maximum sentences of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 years, a fine not exceeding RM 5,000, or not more than 6 strokes of the cane, or a combination thereof, be increased to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 years, a fine not exceeding RM100,000, or not more than 100 strokes of the cane, or a combination thereof.
** Note to the reader. There will be some amendments to Hadi’s bill as it goes through the various readings in Parliament. Supporters of Hadi’s bill will then claim that the statement of MCCBCHST’s is no longer relevant. We disagree!
In any case, the statement is shared as documentation about the baseline or ultimate goal of the Islamic Hudud agenda which will be “implemented in phases”. The statement also reminds us the hudud context even as the next stage will be on explaining why the bill with the new amendments is still unacceptable.
** Call your MPs to make sure they vote against Hadi’s Bill (UMNO Assisted).
The Malaysian Counsultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taosim (MCCBCHST) is gravely concerned with Hadi’s Private Members Bill which will be coming up for debate soon in our Federal Parliament. As the Bill will have far –reaching consequences for the Nation, the MCCBCHST feels duty bound to issue this open letter to Members of Parliament to do their duty as required by their oath of office to protect our Federal Constitution.
Excerpts from the 8-page MCCBCHST Open Letter to MPs I. Is HADI’s Private Member’s Bill a Bill empowering HUDUD offences? The answer is a clear ‘YES”. Here it is why…
The AIM of HADI’s Private Member’s Bill is to seek Parliament’s approval to enhance the Jurisdiction of the SYARIAH COURTS…
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 policy introduced by the Mahathir administration in the early 1980s, innocuously promoting Islamic universal values, became a platform for certain quarters to embark on a drive to change the fundamental character of the Malaysia polity and its legal order.
Will Malaysia end up as an Islamic or quasi-Islamic state by the gradual and subtle re-writing of her foundational document, the Federal Constitution? Or will she retain her character as an essentially secular nation?
These developments in Islamisation threaten to subvert the very foundation on which we, the citizens, and the territorial components of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have held together as one nation.]