PKR: No place for religious bigots in M’sia

(Malaysian Mirror) – Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian has cautioned Sarawakians not to take religious freedom for granted as it must be nurtured and protected for it to flourish.

Speaking at a Christmas and a New Year gathering at the Blind Centre here today, he said: “This is because certain people in authority and power still impose hindrances on others by banning the use of certain terminologies and even to the extent of classifying the ‘Alkitab’ as a document prejudicial to national security under Section 22 of the Internal Security Act, which clearly amounts to an infringement of this constitutional right.

“But thank God, we do still have some right thinking people in Malaysia especially in the judiciary who are courageous and bold enough to uphold the provisions of the Federal Constitution”, Baru said.

“The recent judgment granted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to the Catholic Church by ruling that the Home Ministry’s blanket ban on the use of word ‘Allah’ is illegal is a landmark case for Malaysia.”

High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan, in her recent judgment, stated that the home minister’s order was “illegal, null and void”, adding that the ministry also failed to substantiate any of its claims of threats to national security, which could be caused by the use of the word “Allah” by the Herald.

“We welcome this judgment as a belated Christmas present not only to the Roman Catholic Church but to all peace loving Malaysians who believe in the principles of Rule of the Law and the sanctity and the supremacy of the Federal Constitution.

Consistent with Pakatan Rakyat’s stand

“This judgment is also consistent with Pakatan Rakyat’s stand on this issue. Our leader Anwar Ibrahim at our convention in Kuching on Dec 13 publicly stated in no uncertain term that non-Muslims can use the word ‘Allah’. So did Tok Guru Nik Aziz, the respected PAS spiritual adviser. months earlier,” he said.

Baru declared that there “is no place for religious extremists and religious bigots in this country, as we are a nation of varied religious beliefs and practices.”

He said religious celebrations of all faiths had always been celebrated and respected by all Malaysians before and after independence and the formation of Malaysia.

“This is because religious freedom has been guaranteed as enshrined under Article 11 of our Federal Constitution. For Sabah and Sarawak, the historical Cobbold Commission Report clearly recorded that ‘freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion’ should be guaranteed.

“Further it was recorded that ‘Sarawak should be a secular state’. This is the reason I believe that today Sarawak remains as such without any official state religion.

“But religious freedom today cannot be taken for granted,” Baru stressed.

Attending the function organised by PKR were residents of the centre, their parents, relatives and officials from the Society for the Blind, Cheshire Home, Salvation Army and the Society for the Deaf and Dumb.