Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Churches in Sarawak want Putrajaya's commitment

3:58PM Nov 13, 2013 
The Association of Churches Sarawak has urged Putrajaya to show more commitment to recognising religious freedom in Sabah and Sarawak.

NONEThe group's chairperson Archbishop Bolly Lapok said thus far, Putrajaya hads only displayed "ad hoc benevolence" whenever religious freedom cropped up.

"We need tangible commitments from the authorities to respect and uphold the freedom of religion, guaranteed by the federal Cconstitution as the supreme law of the nation," Lapok said in a statement today.

He argued that the Court of Appeal judgment on The Herald's case had "re-interpreted" Article 3 of the constitution to mean that non-Muslim religions may only be practised in peace and harmony, subject to Islam.

"We do not believe this was ever the original meaning of Article 3, which simply states that other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation," Lapok said.

Real recognition

In view of this, the association has urged Putrajaya to recognise and affirm:
  • That the word "Allah" is inherent to the practise of the Christian faith by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking and other native language speaking churches in Sarawak and Sabah;
  • That churches in Sarawak and Sabah expect Putrajaya to honour the guarantee of religious freedom in the federal constitution; and.
  • That the 10-point Agreement by Putrajaya of April 2011 on the publishing, import and distribution of Al-Kitab is an integral part of the Bahasa Malaysia Holy Scriptures and Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches.
To back his argument for these demands, Lapok referred to clauses on religious freedom in Sarawak's 18-point and Sabah's 20-point agreements with Malaya.

"It was not coincidence. It was intentional that the first point in both these agreements concerns the freedom of religion. 

NONE"Sarawak and Sabah consented to form the greater Malaysian nation with Islam as the religion of the federation on the express condition that there will be complete freedom of religion without hindrance placed on other religions.

"According to these agreements, Sarawak and Sabah were not to have any official religion," he said.

The Association of Churches Sarawak is the umbrella body for Sarawak's churches. 

They were consulted by both Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on the 10-point solution to the Al-Kitab row in 2011.

~ Malaysiakini

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