RAWANG: The newly set up inter-faith committee is not a decision-making body that decides on religious issues and conflicts.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the committee did not have the power to decide on religious disputes and would not affect the status and position of Islam.
“It is not a council or commission as proposed by certain quarters in the past,” he told reporters after giving out launching grants for private pre-schools here yesterday.
“It has an administrative role and comes under the Prime Minister’s Department. It’s just a small committee. That is why Datuk Illani Isahak was chosen to head the committee. She has experience. Thus, we gave her a chance.”
He said the committee was to promote religious understanding and harmony among the various religions.
Muhyiddin said this when asked to comment on concerns raised by the Malay right wing group, Perkasa. Its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, had claimed that the committee might influence the government on religious matters, and said that Illani was not a good choice to head the body.
He also questioned why the committee was under the jurisdiction of Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is in charge of unity, instead of Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, who is the minister in charge of Islamic Affairs under the Prime Minister’s Department.
“I don’t think we should be worried and we will explain in detail about it,” said Muhyiddin, adding that the committee comprised representatives from the National Fatwa Council, the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (Jakim) and the Malaysian Consul-tative Council on Buddhism, Chris-tianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
He said the outcome of discussions by the committee would be used as a guide to improve relations among the multi-racial and multi-religious society.