2 MAY 2016
In the excitement of nomination day on 25 April 2016, many Sarawakians would have missed the news that the National Registration Department (NRD) has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision recognizing a Sarawakian Muslim convert’s right to be legally known as a Christian again.
In a landmark ruling on March 24, the Kuching High Court ruled in Roneey anak Rebit's favour and ordered the NRD to issue a new MyKad with the name he was born with and with the Muslim classification removed. The High Court held that his conversion as a minor was not of his own volition and he had the constitutional rights to exercise his freedom of religion. The High Court also held that Rooney was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court as he could not be considered a Muslim.
It should be noted that of the 3 defendants in this case, the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council did not appeal, but the NRD filed a notice of appeal on 22 April 2016. This situation perfectly illustrates the difference between the Sarawakians’ acceptances of the religious rights of all Sarawakians compared to the federal NRD attitude of refusing to acknowledge our rights.
Now that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are virtually camping in Sarawak, they have the obligation to explain why the NRD insists on meddling with the religious freedom of Sarawakians. The NRD is under the purview of the Minister for Home Affairs, Zahid Hamidi. He should clarify whether he and the Prime Minister are on the same page as the caretaker Chife Minister on the issue of autonomy for Sarawak.
This Rooney case is clear evidence that whatever Adenan may promise in relation to upholding the rights, safeguarding the harmony and preserving the beliefs of Sarawakians, he is not able to persuade the federal government to give Sarawakians the autonomy which is our right, and without this autonomy, Sarawakians are not free from the interference of the federal government and statutory bodies.
Given the chance to govern, PKR has promised to uphold that while there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia, there should be no State religion in Sarawak, and the provisions relating to Islam in the pre-1963 Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Sarawak. PKR promises to protect the right to religious freedom and practice in Sarawak for all religions as guaranteed in the Federal and State Constitutions.
Vote for PKR to fight for real autonomy and real freedom of religion for all Sarawakians.
Joint Director of Operations