Hannah Yeoh defends ministry’s visits to houses of worship

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Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh has today denied allegations of proselytisation against Muslim youths through her ministry’s programme of visits to houses of worship.

She said data showed no Muslim youths were registered in a programme called Projek Article 11 organised by Impact Malaysia, which had so far visited the Federal Territory Mosque and Gurdwara Sahib Shah Alam this month.

“Jom Ziarah is not a project that is organised to make all religions equal and is not intended to illustrate that all religions have the same standings, as what has been portrayed by certain quarters,” Yeoh told the Parliament during her winding-up speech on the Budget 2023.

“Jom Ziarah is a project organised with efforts to know the differences between religions [in the country] that are among us. It is an effort that helps us tell the difference and through this, Malaysian society which is made up of many races can live harmoniously, and with tolerance.

“The programme that was organised, is not a new programme. The Unity Ministry had also organised visitations to the house of worship involving various religions through their committee, which promotes understanding and harmony between religions and now the committee is known as Harmony Committee,” she added.

She further explained no Muslim youths are joining the programme which would visit a church later this week.

“I want this to be included in the Hansard so that they cannot play up the matter through social media anymore.

“For your information, the Jom Ziarah programme that commenced on March 4 at the [Federal Territory] Mosque was attended by eight Chinese and Indian youths, meanwhile the visitation to the Gurdwara on March 11 was attended by three Chinese youths.

Bernama

“So those who are hurling accusations, don’t need to make it look like there were thousands of youths who went into the church and they will be influenced, there is no such thing, the data shows it,” she added.

She also stressed that, as former Selangor State Legislative Assembly Speaker, from 2013 to 2018, and as Subang Jaya’s assemblywoman, she is aware and understood that there are laws that prohibit evangelism.

“So, accusing me of using agencies under the Youth and Sports Ministry for [evangelism] is an accusation that is overboard, and making me a punching bag to cover up charges that are being faced by their leaders.

“I’m not talking about PAS, but Bersatu, who is making accusations against me outside. I am also a DAP member and I understand the Federal Constitution, which recognises Islam as the religion of the federation.

Yeoh was referring to an allegation made by Negeri Sembilan Muafakat Nasional chairman Badrul Hisham Shaharin or better known as Che’gu Bard, who labelled the event as “Christian evangelist has started its work”.

The Segambut MP has since lodged a police report through her political secretary against the allegations made by Che’gu Bard.

The organiser of the programme, Impact Malaysia, describes itself as a social impact initiative of Impact Integrated, an agency under the Youth and Sport Ministry.

Article 11 refers to the provision in the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion. – MMO