Weekly Highlights

To the victor, the spoils of war basically means that the one who won will decide everything.

Recently, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs), Ahmad Marzuk Shaary announced the proposal of a bill to govern non-Muslim religion propagation. Needless to say, this has caused great unease that the MCCBCHST (Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism) as well as other NGOs had immediately responded with objection and worries alongside the immense traffic on social media in response to this sensitive topic.

Malaysia is already battered and beaten blue by the Covid-19 pandemic, a fledgling economy and to add fuel to fire, a plethora of allegations of mismanagement prompts the question: why is there a necessity for the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) to make this announcement at this pressing time? One cannot help to assume whether this is a political strategy to bolster support from the people on the ground or is it masked just as such?

Coming from a PAS deputy minister, it is not too much of a stretch to further suspect that the all-Muslim party has run out of mainstream agendas that is still relevant in the public’s eye. PAS’s championing of RUU 355, Firefighter Adib’s demise, the up-playing of alcohol and gambling issues were all major points in the past, yet PAS has all but failed to deliver.

“Is there a hidden agenda by those who are proposing it? Are such comments made to keep them in the spotlight? One can never be too sure.” – Terence Naidu

Such manoeuvring of political attention smacks against the call by the Malay Rulers in almost every state. Even His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong called for the end of politicking and concentrate on restoring the nation. A similar stance was also uttered by the recently appointed Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob.

Turning a blind eye to such calls, the making of such sensitive announcement with such wide implications and controversies is nothing but IRRESPONSIBLE. Stirring up the anxieties of an already stressed nation is an unwise pawn to move on the chess board.

The denial made by the de facto law minister further raises even more eyebrows and does not diminish the suspicion of political manipulation.

As far as the law is concerned, the provisions of the Federal Constitution that regulate religious affairs can be seen in Article 121(1A) which separates the jurisdiction of the Syariah and civil courts and that the latter should not interfere in the jurisdiction of the former. Another important provision is enshrined in Article 11 which guarantees the freedom of all persons to profess in any religion of his choice. Item 1 of the State List of the Ninth Schedule had made it clear that Syariah laws are confined to persons professing the religion of Islam.

What does this mean? The recent announcement made by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) has now shown that ‘they’ want to control and restrict the propagation of Non-Muslim Religions too by way of a Bill (will it be in a form of Syariah law?) As ambiguous as it sounds, the proposed bill suggests laws to regulate non-Muslims, surely!

Naturally such an announcement with such words and nature will lead to worry as it suggests to regulate non-Muslims via Syariah laws as well.

The choice of words uttered by the Deputy Minister, intentional or not, has caused unreasonable chaos and upheaval among the public. Any laws promulgated by shariah laws will plunge the country into further divide, not to mention constitutional crisis.

Unlike the law which can be interpreted, Politicians however should NOT BE ambigous, yet be wiser and should restrain oneself from giving statements without careful thought on the pandemonium he may potentially create. It seems PAS has now forgotten the legacy of the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz, and is more concerned about ruining Malaysia’s laws!

Terence Naidu

ADUN for Pasir Bedamar

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