Monday, September 26, 2016

No news on Non-Islamic Affairs Unit 3 months after its announcement

KUCHING: Three months after the state announced its setting-up, the status of the Non-Islamic Affairs Unit is anyone’s guess at this point of time, despite Christians in the state expressing unease over the pile-up of unresolved religious cases affecting them.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas who is in charge of non-Islamic affairs appeared not to be ready to make any announcement pertaining to the status.

When met after the launching of World Heart Day 2016 which was graced by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Samajaya Nature Reserve (Stutong Park) here yesterday, Uggah quickly brushed off reporters when he was asked to comment on the status of the Non-Islamic Affairs Unit.

“My car is here…I have to go,” he replied before being ushered away to his official vehicle.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru) president Cobbold John Lusoi was recently reported by an online news portal as urging Uggah not to delay naming the head of the Non-Islamic Affairs Unit since it had been quite a long while since the announcement by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem on the establishment of the unit last June.

Following this, Uggah called for the first meeting with representatives of non-Islamic religious institutions on June 23.

Cobbold said there were many issues affecting non-Muslims that needed to be resolved, citing the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians as an example.

While not a problem in Sarawak, Cobbold said native Christians feared they might court trouble if they use the word in Peninsular Malaysia.

More pressingly, he said Christians and followers of other non-Islamic faiths in the state had expressed concern over PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal  Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which the latter planned to re-table at next month’s Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Cobbold said many believed that the Bill, if passed in Parliament, could affect their freedom to practise their religion.

Association of Churches Sarawak (ACS) secretary-general Ambrose Linang also reportedly said the association was anxiously waiting for Uggah to name the head of the unit.

Ambrose said the association had not been called for a meeting to discuss on the appointment and proposed structure of the unit.

He hoped that the head of the unit and its organisation structure would be announced soon to allay the concerns of followers of non-Islamic religions.

~ Borneo Post

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