We, a group of Malaysian NGOs fully support the recent open letter from a group of 25 personalities that identified themselves as “a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia” to urge the government to hold a public discourse on Islamic law vis a vis the Federal Constitution. The 25 individuals, who identified themselves as “moderate Muslims”, comprised of, among others, retired civil servants, judges and ambassadors.
We applaud the courageous action of these towering figures to stand up and publicly address sensitive yet critical issues plaguing our nation. Too often in the history of nations, the extremists have triumphed not because they enjoyed majority support, but because the majority were silent and idle. Like similar minded NGOs working for the love of our nation, these 25 senior citizens chose not to be passive and have voiced their dismay and abhorrence at the current state of the nation.
We share their sentiment that “there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways”. We would further add that a similar process of consulting relevant experts and stakeholders, be applied to matters related to the process of legislation of other laws too. These should be undertaken in an ambience of transparency, best practises , mutual respect and permeative consultation.
The letter raises the alarm that “the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion”. We couldn’t agree more with this statement. The Prime Minister has reneged on his promise to repeal the Act and announced that the Act would be further emboldened with two additional provisions. We are deeply concerned with this development.
Individuals in the group of 25 that had held high public offices previously should be proud that they have discharged their official duties justly and honourably.
These personalities in the group of 25 are exemplary citizens of Malaysia. We support them and urge other Malaysians to do the same.
We abhor all forms of extremism, hate speech and violence. In the spirit of peace, muhibbah and nation building we invite all Malaysians to engage in a healthy, rational and civil discourse on pressing national issues and silence the voices of hate and extremism in our beloved nation.