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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Stop raids & establish a new permanent mechanism for inter-religious conflict resolution

Proham calls for a stop to raids & find a new permanent mechanism for inter-religious conflict resolution in order to foster greater mutual respect and harmony in accordance with the Federal Constitution

The recent raid by Jais at a Hindu Temple has once again put into public discussion the role of this and other Islamic enforcement agencies in Malaysian society. These agencies have in the name of religion acted in a way that has displayed total disrespect to other religions and cultural practices.

These agencies have raided non-Muslim funerals and removed the dead at the point of grief; they have raided a non-Muslim wedding at a point of celebration and taken away the bride. Both funerals and weddings are major cultural and religious events and at the heart of family and community life. Such insensitive acts create great pain, hurts and impact ethnic and religious relations in Malaysian society.

These Islamic agencies have raided places of worship, be it a Church or Christian institution seeking out Muslims or confiscating the Malay language Bibles. Invading a place of worship is a culturally and religious insensitive act which displays total disrespect and disregard for another place of worship and religion.

Undertaking such acts in the name of religion brings great disrepute to Islam, the religion of the Federation. Furthermore, it can also be misunderstood as acts of aggression of a majority community on minorities in matters pertaining to religious and cultural freedoms as protected by the Federal Constitution.  These acts by religious enforcement agencies have created confusion, anger and distrust among the communities and are threating the peace and harmony of Malaysian society.

The methods of investigation of these religious enforcement agencies are now being questioned, as they seem “to raid and then investigate” similar to the notion of “arrest first and then investigate”. The past raids of Damansara Utama Methodist Church and the Bible Society have not result in any charges being filed by the Islamic authorities.

Raiding places of worship, funerals & weddings will require a higher level of justification and these agencies must first meet the religious leaders of the other religions and work in peace, harmony and mutual respect. The authorities must apply caution and display humility and mutual respect and act in accordance to cultural norms and behaviour.  

Proham is of the opinion that mediation might be the best way forward and that the Mediation Act 2012 could serve as a useful piece of legislation. Mediation provides for conflict resolution and this is urgently needed to resolve the inter-cultural, religious and ethnic conflicts. New provisions could be made to mandate affected parties to come before mediation. The Malaysian Mediation Centre provides a useful model and a similar community mediation centre could be established.

Proham is of the opinion that both Federal and State government leaders must in the interest of the nation, meet to resolve these issues and not allow this to further destroy inter-ethnic and inter-religious understanding. We call on the political leaders in public office to put aside their political differences in the interest of the nation and do the honourable thing to resolve this matter.

Proham proposals that both Federal and State government of Selangor establish an inter-religious panel of Muslims and non-Muslims to study the situation especially the SOP of JAIS and formulate conflict resolution mechanisms so as to build trust and confidence, as well as enable all the religious communities to live in peace and harmony.

Issued on behalf of Proham by:-

Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham Chair)

& Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria  (Proham Secretary-General)

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