Monday, September 10, 2007

Defending our constitutional rights

10 September 2007

Registering our objections to the Islamic State concept

Almost RM100 million have been spent to celebrated 50 years of independence of our beloved nation. Despite the pomp and spendour, this historic event was marred by deep anxiety over the deteriorating race relations and increasing Islamisation that is taking place in the country.

In fact Islamic values are being infused into every facet of our lives today - in schools, public service,police,armed forces, judiciary and even sports and recreation. This is creating tremendous anxiety and insecurity among the non-Muslims who make up nearly 40% of the population. We are unsure of what is in store for us and our children in the future.

On the brink of Merdeka day the Deputy Prime Minister himself declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state. Besides giving reassurances, the Prime Minister himself, would not reaffirm in uncertain terms that Malaysia is a secular state and the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Amidst these controversies and uncertainties, the Chief Justice proposes that the English common law on which our Constitution is based should be replaced with Syariah laws.

As provided for in the Federal Constitution, we all acknowledge that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and where there is freedom to practice ones own religion.

As Christians and belonging to the non-Muslim minority, we have no choice but to voice our concerns and displeasure of what is going on in the country today. We are slowly losing our say in determining the course our country is being steered.

We cannot be complacent but must do our utmost to resist the formation of an Islamic state in a peaceful and legitimate manner. This may be in the following ways:

1. Educating and creating awareness among the respective congregations on the gravity of the problem we are facing by way of talks and seminars. It is time to push for debate within our own religions and promote a wider notion of unity.

2. Publications – make known in no uncertain terms our opposition to the formation of an Islamic state. We must write to papers and magazines, both secular and religious. Our own church bulletins and publications like Herald and CANews must encourage and carry these opinions from the masses.

3. Prayers and intercessions – special prayers and petitions should be incorporated into liturgical services all over the country.

4. Provide living examples to those around us – we must be a symbol of goodwill, tolerance and love for all especially our Muslim brethren. We ourselves must respect all religions as equal, as they all lead to one same God. We must by our actions, convince them we have no ulterior motive other than wanting to share the common brotherhood in our nation.

5. Ensure an effective opposition – The next general election is a crucial one. We must cast our votes responsibly to ensure effective opposition to provide check and balance. Deny 2/3 majority to the ruling party so that drastic amendments to the Federal Constitution can be thwarted.

Only with determination, perseverance and prayer can we succeed in this mission to defend our rights and freedom in our country. The future of our faith depends on what we do today. So let us ask Jesus to give us the guidance and courage to do the right thing now.

Federal Constitution on religious freedom

The folowwing articles in the Federal Constituiton relate to the freedom of religious practice that were worked out my our founding fathers:

Article 3.1 : Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

Article 8.1 : All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

Article 8.2 : Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment

Article 11.1 :Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

Atrticle11.4 :State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

Article12.1: Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race, descent or place of birth

Dr.Chris Anthony

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