Church council pleads govt not to proceed with Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bills
19 Sept 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Council of Churches has appealed to the government to not proceed with the drafting of the anti-propagation law recently proposed by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.
Its president Rev. Datuk Ir Jerry Dusing said the council is deeply saddened by the revelation of where the government is planning to draft various new laws including one to restrict the development of non-Muslim religions.
The development such as Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bills is viewed as a grave concern, he added.
"The 1962 Report of the Cobbold Commission, which included members from Malaya, reflected the spirit in which the Federal Constitution is embedded, in their Recommendations on the topic Religion, which stated 'Taking these points fully into consideration, we are agreed that Islam should be the national religion for the Federation. We are satisfied that the proposal in no way jeopardises freedom of religion in the Federation, which in effect would be secular.'
"This solemn promise guaranteeing freedom of religion has also been enshrined in the Keningau Batu Sumpah. Without this foundation, the Federation of Malaysia would not have existed in the first place, nor would it long endure," he said in a statement, recently.
"It is therefore the sacred duty of all members of the Federal Government, regardless of their
individual religious beliefs, to uphold this historical guarantee," he added.
Jerry further elaborated that the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of Malaysia, guarantees the complete freedom of religion for all and any restrictions, in whatever form, to limit the propagation of any faiths would be in total contradiction of the spirit of religious freedom.
"Religious freedom means all persons can freely exercise their right to freedom of religion and belief without interference by the state including the right to change one's religion. Any form of control by the state whether overtly or through backdoor means would fall short of the religious freedom guaranteed to the people of Sabah and Sarawak at the formation of Malaysia.
"The reality today is that Malaysians are witnessing extreme religious actors and religious bureaucracy pushing for the erosion of the secularity of Malaysia and severely weakening the protection of Malaysians fundamental liberty of complete religious freedom. The erosion of fundamental religious liberty towards a more fundamentalist religious ideology compromising constitutional supremacy is a grave concern. This direction is in complete contravention of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)," he stated.
"In the past year and a half, Malaysia has experienced unprecedented political turmoil and an unprecedented global Covid-19 pandemic. All races and followers of all religions in Sabah, like our brothers and sisters in Malaya and Sarawak, have shed too many tears and suffered too much hardship.
"Yet, by the grace of God, we have been spared from any ethnic or religious strife and civil unrest in Malaysia. This is a shining testimony to the resilience and harmony of the "Malaysian Family", built on the foundation of mutual respect tolerance and kinship."
The council concluded that the national leaders should continue to cherish the common destiny and not to emphasise differences; to bring hope and to guide Malaysia out of the pandemic, not to plant the seeds of division and hatred, and to direct significant focus and importance to address the many issues causing the suffering of the people.
"This is for the sake of the well-being of all Malaysians and the future of the Federation," he asserted.