STATEMENT: We appreciate the immediate and positive statement made by the Chief Minister Saturday in response to our call for the government to amend the law to set clear procedures for those who wish to convert out of Islam, in the light of the Federal Court’s decision on Tuesday on the apostasy cases.
Abang Johari’s promise to amend the law is consistent with Sarawak’s rights under MA63 and pursuant to the Federal Constitution. As Sarawakians, we should all be united in our stand on this matter. It is clearly not a Muslim vs Christian issue, but merely honouring the rights of the people to freedom of religion.
After the Federal Court decision, some extremist people have made outrageous accusations and lies about Baru Bian’s role in these cases. Some have said that our stand on the matter is a stand against Islam and our call for the government to amend the law would open the floodgate for conversions out of Islam.
We hope that the Chief Minister’s clear statement today will cause them to pause and reconsider their rash actions and words. The Chief Minister’s rational and calm statement clearly shows that he understands the issue for what it is, and that there is no Christian agenda. We are merely protecting the individual’s rights fought for by our forefathers.
As a result of the events after Tuesday’s decision, we are reminded of the late Adenan Satem’s stand on this matter, as he had said on many occasions that the state would protect the rights to religious freedoms for its multiracial community, and he had said after the Rooney Rebit’s case that he would formulate a policy to safeguard Sarawakians’ freedom of religion after the 11th state election.
We are glad to note that Abang Johari is taking up the mantle from Adenan Satem. We hope that the Chief Minister will personally see to it that the amendment will be effected within 6 months, as he had promised, and that the heated debate and condemnation on social media will cease with this affirmative stand.
This issue must not be politicised, as our religious and racial harmony is too precious to be sacrificed for political expediency.
The statement was signed by: –
Chong Chieng Jen, Chairman, PH Sarawak
Fidzuan Zaidi, Chairman, AMANAH Sarawak
Baru Bian, PKR Sarawak
EDITOR’s NOTE: –
Speaking to reporters after opening St Joseph’s International School here on Saturday, Abang Jo was quoted as saying that when it comes to religious faith, ‘it is between us and God. Sarawak must have a liberal and practical policy.”
As such, he said, Sarawak will examine its syariah laws to amend any weaknesses in dealing with apostasy cases involving Muslim converts.
Abang Jo said the state is looking to strengthen its Majlis Islam Sarawak Ordinance and the Sarawak Syariah Court Ordinance to ensure that definitions are expressed clearly in the court ruling when a person is no longer a Muslim.
This to ensure that a Muslim apostate would not be tied up by complications, particularly in matters involving the National Registration Department (NRD), he was quoted, adding that he hoped to solve the issue within six months.
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