ALOR SETAR: It is not too late for the Government to consider setting up an inter-faith council if it can help resolve issues of religious significance, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.
Jamil Khir, who is in charge of Islamic affairs, said he supported the idea for such a council as it would help cement a sense of mutual understanding over religious matters.
“There are various ethnic groups in the country and if everybody understand each other’s sensitivities, then there won’t be any misunderstanding,” he said after an investiture ceremony held in conjunction with the Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah’s 82nd birthday celebrations here yesterday.
Jamil Khir, who was bestowed the Seri Setia Diraja Kedah award which carries the title Datuk Seri, said he hoped that in future, any religious matter would be discussed at such a council before it was dragged to court.
National Unity Panel member Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal to form an inter-faith council and hoped the body could be set up “before it was too late.”
He said national stability had been seriously threatened by the recent attacks on churches and this problem must be nipped in the bud.
“The failure to form this council will reflect the Government’s inability to lead in times of crisis and discourage support for national unity and good governance,” he said.
Ramon also proposed that the posts of chairman and deputy chairman in the inter-faith council be assumed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin respectively, adding that the panel had been pushing for such a council to be set up for “a long time”.
“The time for talking and rhetoric is over. We must face reality,” he said.
Yayasan 1Malaysia (Y1M) trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye proposed that a national consultative council on religious harmony be set up as this would enable more substantial interaction among its members, who would comprise representatives from ministries, religious bodies and non-governmental groups.
“Compared with an inter-faith council, our proposal covers a broader spectrum whereby discussions can take a more integrated approach with the greater involvement of the Government,” he said, adding that such a consultative council should be chaired by Najib himself.