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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Proham & Religious Freedom in Malaysia

Proham condemns all acts of violence and intolerance & Calls on all parties
to seek pragmatic solutions in matters pertaining to Religious Freedom in Malaysia

 Proham condemns all acts of violence and intolerance such as cocktail bombs, burning effigies, hate speeches, and provocations. Such acts negatively impact national unity, freedoms and liberties of religious and ethnic minority communities in Malaysia.
Proham deeply regrets the recent efforts by certain parties to distort and orchestrate ill will and misunderstanding in Malaysian society over the use of certain words in the Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia versions of the Bible.

The raids by religious authorities on minority religious institutions have raised constitutional questions. The actions may be deemed as unconstitutional acts which is undermining religious freedom as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.  Such acts of intolerance must not be permitted in peaceful Malaysia.
Proham calls upon relevant authorities to take appropriate action which is just and fair. It is sad to note that there are very few national and state leaders who have come in the open to denounce these acts of intolerance and call for peace.

Proham reminds the Malaysian authorities on the efforts taken by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in promoting  “Resolution 16/18 on Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief” in the United Nations.
The UN adopted this resolution on April 12, 2011 and Malaysia is a party to this resolution which is based on the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations “to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction” including “the obligation of States to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law”

While this is a non-binding resolution, it is however a major global consensus statement on discrimination concerns especially over how Islam and Muslims minorities are treated in some Western societies.
A similar application of this principle based on the United Nations consensus must be respected, protected and defended in Malaysian society. It is this context that Proham wants to reiterates the following:

·         That Malaysia has both a legal and historical tradition of mutual respect for religious freedom and cultural diversity. This is constitutionally protected in the Federal Constitution, Article 3 which states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation” and Article 11 (1) which states that “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and subject to clause (4) to propagate it”

·         That Malaysia is rich in cultural diversity especially in ethnic, religious and linguistic dimensions. This diversity includes a unique fact that 60% of Malaysian Christians are Bahasa Malaysia speaking and are indigenous to Sabah and Sarawak. Many of them now live in Peninsula Malaysia since the formation of Malaysia. They form the sizable Bahasa Malaysia speaking churches in Peninsula Malaysia especially in the Klang valley.

·         That the Ten Point Solution pertaining to Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia provides a practical solution. undertaken by the Prime Minister of Malaysia on behalf of the Federal Government on April 11, 2011, However the recent statement made by the Prime Minister on Jan 24, 2014 which includes a new qualifier to the Ten Point Solution namely “subjected to state laws” This position does not provides any practical solution to the use of Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesian bibles among Christian minorities especially in Peninsula Malaysia.

In this context Proham calls on:
·         The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers from across the ‘political divide’ to jointly affirm religious freedom and call for a stop to threats, provocations, acts of violence, hate speeches and all other acts which incitw hatred. Working together as national leaders in a by-partisan manner is essential for nation building. Both the Federal government and state governments must work together as national leaders for the best interest of the nation setting aside political differences and rivalry.

·         The former Prime Ministers, Chief Justices and former Ministers to emerge in Malaysian society as elder statements to defuse racial and religious enmity and strive. Malaysia needs more bridge builders and peace ambassador who will foster tolerance, appreciation and reconciliation
·         The authorities especially the Police and Islamic religious institution of the Federal and state governments to adopt a more compassionate rather than legalistic approaches which promotes and fosters the true spirit of Islam on matters affecting religious and cultural rights of minorities.

·         All Malaysians to exercise caution, humility and patience in matters pertaining to religious and cultural rights so as to affirm both our rights as well as our responsibilities as Malaysian citizens

Proham recognises that Malaysia is a great land and we must remain so by cherishing peace, harmony and reconciliation for the greater good of our nation.

Issued on behalf of Proham by Datuk Kuthbul Zaman Bukhari (Proham Exco) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General)
Jan 29, 2014

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