CFM: Adenan shouldn’t have had to intervene in Sarawak NRD case


(MMO) – The Sarawak chief minister need not have stopped the National Registration Department’s bid to keep to a man from renouncing Islam if the agency had respected the constitution, said the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM).

Noting that the decision stemmed from the ongoing Sarawak election, the federation said it was dismayed that the agency even sought to challenge Roneey Rebit’s application to amend his religious status on his MyKad.

“Is it not imperative that all parties uphold and respect Article 11 (1) of our Federal Constitution, which states “every person has the right to profess and to practise his religion?”

“Why is it so difficult for the NRD to understand this basic constitutional right of all Malaysians till the department had to initiate an appeal against the Kuching High Court’s decision to which the state Islamic Council and the Islamic department had no objection to Roneey Rebit’s application to convert out of Islam?” the CFM said in statement.

It then urged all federal agencies to respect the constitutional liberties of Malaysians that it said were sacrosanct. The CFM said failure to do so would result in more cases like Roneey’s where Malaysians’ right to choose their faith was violated.

Roneey’s case made national headlines on March 24, when the Kuching High Court recognised his constitutional right as an adult to choose his religion and ordered the NRD to issue him a new Mykad.

The NRD chose to appeal the decision despite the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and the Sarawak Islamic Council, who were named in Roneey’s legal challenge, not objecting to formally releasing the Bidayuh man from Islam.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said on Monday that he received Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s assurance that the NRD would end its appeal, which the department later withdrew.

The case had put Adenan’s pledge to defend Sarawakian’s freedom of faith under the microscope, hurting his appeal on one his most popular policies.

Adenan yesterday vowed to take action over cases similar to Roneey’s after the election.

Critics such as Perkasa have accused Barisan Nasional of directing the NRD to withdraw its case in the interests of the Sarawak election on May 7.