KOTA KINABALU: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has proposed the government to seriously consider establishing a special unit or committee to take charge of affairs and development concerning non-Muslims in the country.
Its President, Tan Sri T.C Goh noted that, all these years, the existing religious affairs unit in the Prime Minister’s Department has been focusing on development and affairs of Muslim community in the country, hence the time has come for the government to consider setting up a special committee to better look after development and affairs of non-Muslims community.
He said, the setting up of the proposed special unit should not be construed as a challenge or a violation of the position of Islam in Malaysia, but a positive and constructive approach of displaying the nation’s unique and harmonious multiracial setting. He underscored the position of Islam under the Federal Constitution is well understood and respected by Malaysians of all races.
Goh who is also President of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) expressed this in a statement issued today, following the clarification made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department’s (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, that the government has no intention of enacting legislation to restrict and control the propagation of religions other than Islam.
Goh also expressed relief and welcomed clarification by Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong that such legislation has not been discussed in the Cabinet.
The said issued cropped up after some media picked up the news reported by PAS mouth-piece Harakah Daily, earlier, which quoted Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary for claiming that the government plans to draft a bill restricting the propagation of religions other than Islam, one of four new laws proposed by the Religious Affairs Department. The other three are the Wakaf, Mufti and Shariah Court Bills. A search conducted later found that Harakah Daily has removed the said news report from its official website.
Both Wan Junaidi and Dr Wee also pointed out that religious matters are under the jurisdiction of the respective states.
“Religious matters are state matters. If the federal government does it, it won’t be legally binding. We have to discuss with the stakeholders, namely the states, whether they agree or not,” Wan Junaidi had said.
Goh went on to assert that, all religions in Malaysia, Islam and non Islam included, must be equally respected, in order to better demonstrate Malaysia’s unique multiracial background, as well as to live up to the true spirit of “Malaysian Family” advocated by the present prime minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He then noted that, the Selangor state government had in 2008 established the Selangor non-Muslim Affairs Committee, believed to be the first-of-its-kind in Malaysia, to provide annual grants for development of non Muslim religions in the state. The said committee later changed its name to “Selangor Special Committee for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism”
He opined that such a worthy and inclusive approach should be adopted and promoted by both federal and state governments.
He continued that, while the federal government’s approach of disbursing development grants to non Muslim religious organizations, through the Department of National Unity, is most welcomed and supported, it would be more appropriate for the government to establish a non-Muslim Affairs Committee to better take care of concerning the non-Muslim communities, in a systematic manner.
He cited for example, besides Muslim religious affairs, non-Muslim religious affairs like community-run Buddhist and Taoist temples, cemeteries too are in need of a long-term and systematic government aids to sustain their operations and developments.