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KUCHING, Sept 9: The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) considers the attempt to introduce four new shariah laws or any future attempts to introduce Shariah bills affecting non-Muslim religions as directly contravening the very spirit of the formation of Malaysia, where Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya are equal partners.
ACS said the Federal Constitution clearly states in Article 11(1): Every person has the right to profess and practise his/her religion.
“Such bills to control and restrict the development of all the non-Muslim religions should never be allowed to be tabled in our multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia,” said chairman of ACS, Archbishop Dr Simon Poh in a press statement today.
Quoting Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ustaz Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, FMT had reported that four new shariah laws are being drafted by the federal government including a bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions.
Ahmad Marzuk Shaary was quoted as saying that a Wakaf Bill, Mufti Bill and Syariah Court Bill were the other new laws being planned.
The new laws are part of a five-year plan by the federal government in which 11 changes will be made to strengthen shariah laws, which will include amendments to existing legislation and eight subsidiary shariah laws, as part of the government’s “Empowerment Plan”.
To such planned attempts, ACS expressed alarm and reiterated the stance of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Sarawak’s political leaders including assemblymen, MPs and Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) that have consistently rejected any introduction of such laws that would undermine and destroy the harmony among races and communities in Sarawak and Malaysia.
“On Aug 16, 2021, when our Yang di-Pertuan Agung appointed the Ninth Prime Minister, a clear mandate to focus on the current pandemic was given, so that the people of Malaysia should not be burdened with endless political turmoil at a time when the country is struggling with health issues and economic depression, brought about by the pandemic.
“On Aug 22, 2021, our newly appointed Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in his maiden speech, presented the concept of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ where all Malaysians can be united regardless of religion and race.
“He (Ismail Sabri) pointed out that Malaysians are all a part of a family despite their diversity in religion, race and ethnicity, with all of them complementing and needing each other as different parts of a single body. We are a ‘Malaysian Family’,” Poh reminded the country’s top leaders of the latest promise.
Poh said all religions are equal in Sarawak and such notion has been supported by Sarawakians of all religions as shown in Sarawak’s annual Inter-faith Harmony Walks.
“In Sarawak, in conjunction with Malaysia Day, Inter-faith Harmony Walks have been organised since 2017.
“In the pre-pandemic years, thousands of Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hinduism, Muslims, Sikhs, Taoists and people of goodwill have walked together as friends on the streets of Kuching and other major towns to promote mutual respect, acceptance, harmony and unity as Malaysians.
“This is an integral part of the social fabric of Sarawak,” said Poh who called on all Malaysians to work together to overcome the pandemic. — DayakDaily