Wednesday 4 May 2011

Muslims, Christians and the Federal Constitution

May 04, 2011
MAY 4 — Let’s get one thing clear: The Federal Constitution of Malaysia is unequivocal about the position of Islam in the country.

Article 3 (1) states “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation”.

What that means is a coalition of Muslim groups calling themselves Pembela is fighting a battle that does not exist. They are the Don Quixotes of our time, battling giants in their mind when going past windmills.
It goes without saying that Islam cannot be threatened in this country, no matter how these groups and even Umno spin a tall tale of unity to protect the religion that is already shielded by the Federal Constitution since 1957.

It also begs the question why the issue keeps cropping up in the national discourse, perhaps as a distraction from the way the country is run and the wasted opportunities that have been mentioned by economists and other experts.

Pembela also has to understand their fight is not with Datuk Seri Idris Jala, whom they accused today of being partisan in his handling of the Alkitab controversy and for acting as a “minister of Christian affairs.”
“He speaks as if he is the Christian Minister, as if there was such a government department for it when there is no legal provision for such an office or institution,” said the coalition’s spokesman Yusri Mohamed.
He said that Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, the ministers handling Islamic affairs and unity respectively, should be allowed to take up the issue instead.

Pembela, a grouping of 19 Muslim bodies, has repeatedly attacked what it calls the “Idris Jala Formula” in handling the impasse over Malay-language bibles and said again today that it had weaknesses due to the lack of Muslim views.

But Jala is not a minister representing Christian interests, as far as the Christians are concerned.
He is a Cabinet minister tasked with resolving the issue by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. And Jala has done a poor job of solving the issue as it took the prime minister to finally meet a group of Christians to end a problem that should not have existed in the first place.

Also, the Christians do not need a minister to represent them in the Cabinet. No community needs that. Every Malaysian wants a Cabinet that represents all of them, all of Malaysia.

The point is simple. Malaysians need to know the Federal Constitution. They need to know their rights are protected as it is.

The Christians are just asking for their constitutional rights. Just as the Muslims are entitled to their constitutional rights. There is no use quibbling or protesting any formulas to solve a problem that Barisan Nasional (BN) created on their own.

Pembela should know that. Christians should know that. Malaysians should know that they have every right to worship however they please and in any language they please. Forget these fake battles that appear idiotic for an independent and prosperous country of some 50 years old.

After all this time, should we fight over the Almighty and holy books? It’s silly, especially when the country’s laws are clear about the matter.

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