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SIBU, Sept 17: Welcoming the proposed law restricting the propagation of other religions is by itself already an act against the freedom of religion enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
This is the view shared by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Dudong chief Sempurai Petrus Ngelai and Roy Gingkoi, PRS Engkilili Protem Committee chairman.
Petrus said Sarawak so far has been very tolerant with the inter-religion relationship as evident by large numbers of mixed marriages and sheer openness to other races and religions.
“We have been living harmoniously in Sarawak all these years. We can see mosques, churches and temples built next to each other without any problem. This is the uniqueness of Sarawak,” said Petrus in a statement today.
He express regret that of late, there has been moves to welcome the proposed law restricting the propagation of other religions.
To him, freedom of religion is enshrined in Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution which provides that every person has the right to profess and to practice his or her religion and (subject to applicable laws restricting the propagation of other religions to Muslims) to propagate it.
“There is no question about it that the Federal Constitution is very clear on this propagation of other religions. To welcome the proposed law which is tantamount to preemptively disrupting our religious tolerances and harmony cannot be accepted in Sarawak.
“Focus should be channelled to ensure that religious tolerance and racial harmony that we’ve enjoyed in Sarawak for so long continues to grow. Any religious bigotry in Sarawak cannot be accepted as it may jeopardise our peach and respect for each other,” said Petrus, who is a lawyer by profession.
Petrus was responding to Sarawak Syarie practitioner Arip Ameran, who expressed welcome to the proposed law of restricting the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims, citing Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that propagation of religions other than Islam among Muslims is strictly forbidden.
The Federal government through Deputy Minister in Prime Minister (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary has been reported to be drafting four new shariah laws including a bill for control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions.
“We Sarawakians are totally against such bigotry (of restricting propagation for other religions except Islam). Having multiple religions in Sarawak taught us to learn and respect others,” said Roy. — DayakDaily