Guan Eng doubts minister’s word on proposed laws upholding non-Muslim rights

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Questions will continue to be asked about such law proposals and whether they contravene the Federal Constitution.

DAP’s Lim Guan Eng today urged de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to clarify his position on the government’s plan to introduce two new Islamic laws that critics say affect religious freedom in Malaysia.

Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

“Malaysians remain unconvinced with Idris’ assurances in Parliament yesterday that the religious rights of freedom of non-Muslims will not be affected by the proposed Act 355 and the bill to restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions,” Lim said in a statement today.

The Bagan MP noted that Wan Junaidi previously denied that the Bills were on the cards and downplayed the perception that they would diminish constitutional freedoms, especially to those of non-Muslim faiths.

“Wan Junaidi should clarify, especially when the Sabah and Sarawak state governments have openly declared their opposition towards PAS proposals,” Lim said in a statement.

Lim was referring to two government proposals — the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016, better known as RUU355, and the Control on the Propagation of non-Muslim Religions Bill.

Wan Junaidi was reported by several news outlets as saying on September 7 that several Islamic Bills that had been talked about had not yet been raised in Cabinet meetings.

The Santubong MP from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu also reportedly said that even if they were tabled in Parliament, the proposed laws must first have the consent of all the respective state Rulers as Islam is under state jurisdiction.

Islamic Affairs Minister Idris Ahmad who is also PAS vice-president yesterday confirmed the Control on the Propagation of non-Muslim Religions Bill will be tabled in Parliament, but said it is not intended to restrict religious freedom among non-Muslims as they can proselytise their faiths among themselves.

However, Lim claimed PAS has adopted a hostile stance towards non-Muslims since the death of Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who was its spiritual adviser.

“Further, PAS’ brand of extremism is highlighted by their support of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which denies educational and employment opportunities to women,” Lim said.

In August, PAS International Affairs and Foreign Relations committee chairman Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi took to Twitter to “congratulate the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban-led government for their victory” after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.

“For Idris Ahmad to claim that this proposed new legislation will only be enforced on Muslims, such as the bill to restrict the propagation of non-Islamic religions, reminds us of the justification by religious extremist preacher Syakir Nasoha, spreading lies against non-Muslims, that his insulting and derogatory remarks against non-Muslims, were meant only for Muslims,” he added.

Last week, a video of Kedah-based preacher Syakir Nasoha — where amongst other things, he asserted that non-believers were “rushing” to kill Muslims — went viral on social media, causing public outrage and multiple police reports have been lodged against him.

Lim pointed out that questions will continue to be asked about such law proposals and whether they contravene the Federal Constitution.