Pakatan backs Royal Commission on religion

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

The Pakatan Rakyat has agreed to a common policy to form a Royal Commission to deal with religious issues.

According to its Common Policy Framework document released today, the coalition of three parties will also defend the position of Islam as the religion of the federation, as provided for by the constitution.

“Pakatan Rakyat vows to set up a comprehensive mechanism to provide just resolution to cases which involve the overlap of civil and syariah laws, including a Royal Commission to deeply study all relevant issues,” said the policy statement expected to be endorsed by some 1,500 coalition PR convention delegates later today. The proposal is seen as a giant step forward for PR as similar proposal — to set up the Inter Faith Commission (IFC) by the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) in 2001 has been fiercely opposed by many Islamist groups including PAS, a PR leading partner.

Today, PR also pledged to organise more dialogues and consultations “between cultures and religions in order to strengthen the understanding between them”, another radical move as Islamist groups in the past had attempted to forcefully end closed door forums on religion.

It also promised to ensure suitable areas for places of worship and burial grounds for all religions.

“Malaysians have almost fallen into the boiling pot of discord and tension that was caused by manipulation of religious differences,” said the policy framework.

Islamic related issues have always affected the relationship between the three parties with PAS leaders continue to push for an Islamic state, an issue that was carefully avoided in the common policy.

PR-ruled states too have been under attack from religious extremist.

Last August, a group of Muslims in Selangor took the head of the cow — a sacred animal for Hindus — to the state government secretariat and stamped on it as a sign of protest.

The protest was against the relocation of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood in Shah Alam.