Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ambiga: Stop harassing Christians

12:39PM Dec 17, 2014
By Kamles Kumar
Former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan has called on the authorities to stop harassing Christians.

She said the 10-point agreement on these issues must be explained to the police and other enforcement officials.

"Malaysia is fast gaining fame for its bible seizing activities

"I believe the public deserve to know where these orders to seize and arrest are coming from and the basis of those orders," she told Malaysiakini.

Ambiga was responding to the police seizing hymn books containing the word "Allah" from Catholic priest Cyril Mannayagam (right) in Johor.

She also concurred with views expressed by lawyer Andrew Khoo who previously said that Section 298A of the Penal Code, which was used to detain the Catholic priest, had already been declared unconstitutional in 1988 and was struck out.

"I agree with Khoo. I am particularly disturbed at the high-handed approach by the police," she added.

On Dec 5, Johor police detained Mannayagam for questioning after he had sent the hymn books for photocopying in Tangkak.

The books were meant for Orang Asli parishioners. The police however opted not to pursue a case against the priest.

Provision is too vague

Meanwhile, current Bar Council president Christopher Leong said that the provision used to detain and initially probe the priest was void as it was "too vague".

"Section 298A was in any event a bad law. It was unconstitutional because it was too vague in its definition and wide in its ambit," he told Malaysiakini in a text message.

Leong (left in photo) said that the law's defects were similar to the defects in the Sedition Act 1948, which he said lacked the "mental element of criminal intent".

"As a provision for a criminal offence, it offends the basic requirements of clarity, specificity and criminal intent.

"It also does not require the mental element of criminal intent. It therefore suffers from the same defects of the Sedition Act," he added.

The struck out law relates to the offence of causing disharmony, disunity or feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion.

~ Malaysiakini

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