Activist Haris Ibrahim returns to legal practice to defend ‘secular’ Malaysia

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Activist Haris Ibrahim is returning to legal practice, despite his Stage 4 lung cancer, as he wants to bring the message that Malaysia was intended to be a secular nation.

He will be joining the firm of his fellow lawyer Ashok Kandiah and his partners, which will now be known as Haris Ibrahim Kandiah Partnership.

Haris said his health and the required medical treatments may not allow him to travel the nation to spread two key messages he believes are essential to saving the country.

“The first is that our history manifestly evidences that we, Malayans, were intended to be a nation of a single people, all equal. The creation of Malaysia did not change this.

“The second message, again based on our history, is that Malaya was intended to be a secular nation. Again, the creation of Malaysia did not change this.

“I envisage two platforms that will allow me, even as I battle cancer, to take these messages to the ground.

“First, a soon-to-be-launched YouTube video channel. Second, our courts of law. Hence, my decision to return to legal practice,” Haris explained in a post on his Facebook account yesterday.

In the last 10 years of his legal practice, up to 2010, Haris said he was involved in many cases that dealt with questions on freedom of religion and the jurisdiction of the civil and Syariah courts.

While handling these cases, he said, he gained an insight into what he felt were “efforts by people in the highest of offices to undermine the secular nation” Malaysia was intended to be.

He pointed to the case of single mother Loh Siew Hong, whose three children were unilaterally converted to Islam by her estranged husband.

The challenges faced by Loh in regaining custody of her children after their conversion suggest that the attempt to “undermine” the secular system continues unabated, Haris said.

“Race and religion have long been manipulated as platforms to divide us as people in order to keep Umno/BN in power.

Mukhriz Hazim/Malaysiakini

“As a people, we must unite and resist any and all efforts by politicians to divide us, especially as we face the prospect of a 15th general election soon,” he said.

Haris was first diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in early April and was told he might only have as little as three months to live.

A lawyer by profession, Haris is a founder of the ‘Asalkan Bukan Umno’ (Anything But Umno) movement and he writes on the blog, ‘The People’s Parliament’. – Malaysiakini