Amend Article 4A of Sarawak Constitution to reflect multi-religious society, says Voon

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, April 17: Article 4A of the Sarawak Constitution may be amended to reflect a multi-religious society, if Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) forms the government and is able to control two-thirds of the Legislature, said PBK president Voon Lee Shan.

Voon in a press statement today said in 1963, there was no state religion in Sarawak and there was a lot of freedom in one’s practice of one’s religion.

“Sarawakians used to be able to freely speak about their religion to their Muslim brothers and sisters but this is no longer possible because Article 161D of the Federal Constitution had been repealed.


“The repealed Article 161D provided that a state law restricting the propagation of any religious doctrines to Muslims may not be passed without a special two-thirds majority. Being repealed, this gives restrictions to freedom of religion and religious practices in Sarawak,” he said.

Voon pointed out that the 18-Point Agreement for Sarawak during the formation of Malaysia states that there should not be any state religion for Sarawak.

He said the present situation makes a lot of difference that of pre-Malaysia days with the coming of Article 4A of Sarawak Constitution, which came into force from Aug 26, 1976.

He explained that under Article 4A of the Sarawak Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong becomes the Head of Islam in the State of Sarawak.

For this reason, he continued, the Barisan Nasional and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) should be booted out of the Sarawak Legislature (DUN Sarawak) for going against the 18-Points Agreement as agreed by our forefathers for the formation of Malaysia.

“They should not have enacted or allowed this Article 4A to stay in the Sarawak Constitution,” he opined.

At the same time, Voon said Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation shows that Islam is the official religion of Sarawak too.

According to him, Article 4A of the Sarawak Constitution if read with Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution implies that Head of the State (TYT) has to be a Muslim under the Sarawak Constitution because Agong who appoints TYT under Article 1(1) of the Sarawak Constitution and who being the Head of Islam of the Federation of Malaysia may prefer a Muslim as TYT so that TYT could represent him about Islamic affairs in Sarawak.

“This has a great impact on the people of Sarawak because most or majority of Sarawakians are Christians,” he added.

In the last statewide census in 2010, Sarawak recorded 1.04 million Christians or 44.2 per cent of its population. There were 710,815 Muslims, accounting for 30.2 per cent. — DayakDaily.