Thursday, June 28, 2007

Speaking up for Malaysia

The Malaysian Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism & Taoism (MCCBCHST) has published a booklet titled UNITY THREATENED BY CONTINUING INFRINGEMENT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, which is the strongest statement yet on the erosion of safeguards contained in our Federal Constitution. Launched at the last candlelight vigil on behalf of Revathi (and others who have suffered the loss of their personal freedom to profess and practice their religion of choice) it spells out how all this is happening in plain sight and with utter disregard for the constitutional guarantee that, “every person has the right to profess and practice his religion.

(Pix by sivinkit)

The booklet represents a memorandum of concern submitted to our country’s highest authority which sadly (and perhaps not unexpectedly) has not been responded too, at least not publicly that I know of. Non-Muslims are deeply troubled for good reasons, and the booklet offers 6 critical issues.

  1. The civil courts are reluctant to adjudicate cases where the Islamic ingredient is present notwithstanding the fact the person seeking judicial relief or remedy is a non-Muslim.
  1. While the civil courts are disinclined to protect non-Muslims the Syariah Courts are assuming jurisdiction and power to deal with the affairs of non-Muslims related to matrimony and children’s custody. In doing so, Islamic law is applied to the detriment of non-Muslim affairs.
  1. There is often inexplicable delay in disposing of cases involving those newly converted to Islam and their non-Muslim spouses, thus resulting in gross injustice.
  1. In at least three cases, a non-Muslim (Hindu) parent has lost guardianship and custody of her/his children by a Syariah Court order given secretly in his/her absence with no notice to her/him. The Syariah Courts in those same orders secretly obtained by the converting spouse, also declared those children as Muslim without the non-Muslim parent’s consent. This was even though those children were still under 18, were born to parents who both professed Hinduism and had been raised as non-Muslim children. Ms Genga Devi, Ms Shamala and Mr Nedunchelian all lost a significant part of their parental rights over their children.
  1. There are numerous cases where exhumations have been carried out indiscriminately pursuant to orders granted by the Syariah Courts in respect of graves in non-Muslim burial grounds.
  1. In so-called ‘apostasy’ cases, the civil courts seem o be concerned only with the recanting of Islam but not by the adoption of a non-Muslim religion by the individual concerned.

You can view or download the whole booklet here.

The nation is celebrating its 50th year of Merdeka, shadowed by a fissure that is seemingly not officially discouraged, if not deliberately foisted upon a minority people who are just as Malaysian as the majority.

Who speaks for Malaysia, if not Malaysians?

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