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Prime Minister should create acceptable channels such as a council represented by all religions, to overcome issues such as the Moorthy @ Muhammad controversy.

Media Statement
by Tan Seng Giaw

(Kepong, Monday): We should review and amend laws to ensure justice for all religions.

Now, the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) has no representatives from Islam. Muslims have different views on such a council.
Dr Tan looks at the withdrawal of the memorandum submitted by the nine non-Muslim ministers to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on 22 January, 2006. On 19 inst. these ministers forwarded the memorandum, urging the PM to amend Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution to give the civil court power to hear matters concerning Islam. This causes unhappiness among some Muslims.

On 20 December, 2005, Mount Everest climber Sargeant M. Moorthy @ Muhammad Abdullah died. His wife clashed with the Federal Territory Religious department (Jawi) to bury the remains. Eight days later Jawi interred the body as the Malaysian High Court ruled that it had no power to intervene in the decision of the Syariah High Court that he was a Muslim.

The nine ministers were: Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, Datuk Choi Soi Lek, Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik, Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, Datuk Peter Chin and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok. Has Tan Sri Dompok withdrawn?

Abdullah advised them to withdraw the memorandum, saying that the Barisan Nasional (BN) did not forbid discussions and ministers could speak up even on the most sensitive issues at Cabinet meetings. Since 20 December, 2005, there have been five Cabinet meetings. Haven't the ministers discussed the issue?

The public are aware that these ministers submitted and withdrew the memorandum. What now?

For hundreds of years, major religions have had examples of enlightenment and liberalism in handling various issues. But, how do we solve pressing inter-religious problems such as the above-mentioned issue, loudness of bells in temples, ceremonies that affect other religious followers, the volume of muezzin's calls and so forth. We need to voice these through channels that are acceptable to all religions. Quoting enlightened case histories of each religion is one thing. But, some local religious followers do not care that their activities affect people of other faiths is another.

We continue to fight for the promugation of laws that are fair and just to people of all faiths. The law is essential in maintaining a sense of order and fairness.


* Tan Seng Giaw,DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong

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