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10 APRIL 2024

Sunday, December 31, 2023

PKR leader: Interfaith harmony committee needs to be more active


The Inter-Faith Harmony Committee (Harmony Committee) needs to convene more regularly to resolve issues, urged PKR deputy secretary-general Sathia Prakash Nadarajan.

He said that the committee is not very active at the moment.

"Issues between religions are complex and sensitive as each faith has different views on matters involving their own religion.

"But by empowering the Harmony Committee to play a key role in these issues, the worries of all Malaysians can be taken into account," Sathia (above) told Malaysiakini.

The Harmony Committee was established in August 2020, but became inactive.

The current administration revived the committee and had its first meeting in late October this year.

However, the committee co-chaired by National Unity Minister Aaron Ago Dagang and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Mohd Na'im Mokhtar, is only scheduled to meet twice a year or as needed.

Besides the two co-chairs, the 30-member committee consists of three government representatives and representatives for Islam (10), Buddhism (4), Christianity (4), Hinduism (2), Taoism (2), Sikhism (1), Baha'i (1), and Sarawak's Other Religions Affairs Unit (1).

Sathia's call to empower the Harmony Committee is in response to Beruas MP Ngeh Khoo Ham's call for non-Muslim experts to be included in a government committee reviewing syariah laws and courts, to safeguard the interests of non-Muslims.

Ngeh has since retracted and apologised after various leaders clarified that the syariah review committee was reviewing matters strictly involving Muslims only.

This included a rebuke from Selangor's Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah - at whose behest the committee was formed - that non-Muslims not interfere in matters relating to Islam.

Beruas MP Ngeh Khoo Ham

Don’t disregard non-Muslims

Sathia said he agreed with the Selangor ruler that non-Muslims should not meddle with Islamic affairs.

"However, it must be kept in mind there are times when non-Muslims are helpless, such as in unilateral conversions of children by a single parent.

"Almost every year there are such cases, but to this day there is no solution agreed to by all faiths.

"This is where the Harmony Committee can play a role," he added. - Mkini

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