‘Bebas’ cannot be used in relation to Islam’s status, insists blogger
KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Nov – The word ‘bebas‘ (freely) cannot be used in relation to Islam’s special status as the religion of the Federation per Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, insisted a young blogger, Ahmad Ali Karim, in his latest blog posting today.
The blogger, who is the son of a noted commentator on Malaysian public and political affairs Abdul Karim Omar and is a prominent blogger in his own right, said this in response to Tun Dr. Mahathir’s written reply to him on account of his earlier blog posting pointing out how the Agreement dated 13 December 2016 between the three component parties of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the Tun Dr. Mahathir-formed Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) violates the Constitution for having inserted the word ‘bebas‘ (freely) into the text of Article 3(1) of the apex law declaring Islam as the religion of the (Malaysian) federation.
Article 3(1) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution declares Islam as the religion of the Federation while stating that other religions may be practised dengan aman dan damai (in peace and harmony) in any part thereof. The word ‘bebas‘ (freely) is not present within the text of the Article.
Tun M confused
Ali Karim pointed out that far from clarifying the issue, Tun Dr M’s letter only served to add to the confusion, as Tun postulated therein that the word ‘bebas’ is not used in relation to Islam but “to other religions” as Malaysians of other religions “are free to change their religions” and the addition of the word is neccessary as many “have changed their religion to Islam and Christianity”
The blogger stressed that Article 3(1) of the Constitution was about Islam’s position vis-a-vis other religions in Malaysia and not about the right to convert to other religions. The Article should not be conflated with another constitutional provision, the right to convert to other religions as contained in Article 11(1).
Article 3(1) states in no uncertain terms that while Islam is the religion of the federation, other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation.
Article 11(1) on the other hand, states that every person has the right to profess and practise his (own personal) religion and, subject to Article 11(4) (restriction on propagation of any religious doctrine or belief towards Muslims), to propagate it. Thus there is a material difference between the two articles with the former concerning Islam’s status within the federation, while the latter being about freedom of religion in general.
It is only in the latter Article 11(1) that that freedom is implied, i.e. freedom to change religion, and not in the former Article 3(1) where there is no freedom to practise religions other then Islam contrary to the qualifications therein, ie ‘peace and harmony’.
Tun M therefore, would appear to be confused, the blogger claimed, citing the judgment of Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in the Court of Appeal in the case of Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Menteri Dalam Negeri and Kerajaan Malaysia. The judgment stressed that the words ‘in peace and harmony’ in Article 3(1) were not for show but had significance, in that other religions may be practised only insofar as they do not breach the peace and harmony enjoyed by citizens of the Malaysian federation.
The religion of the Federation versus official religion
The blogger also stressed that Tun M was wrong to state that Islam was merely the official religion of Malaysia when the wording ‘religion of the federation’ placed Islam on a much higher pedestal in relation to Malaysia’s apex law, and this was the position admitted by Tun M himself when he was Prime Minister before.
Tun M’s principles would seem to have changed as during his reign, in order to maintain peace and harmony among the people in Malaysia, Tun did not give (absolute) freedom to the people; but now as a leader of an opposition party, Tun M (is going) against his own principle and is fighting for total freedom, the blogger pointed out at the end of his blog posting. -tanjak.my