PETALING JAYA: G25 member and former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail (pic) says he stands firmly by his conviction that matters of religion are solely the purview of the rulers, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, even as he is being investigated for sedition.
Tawfik, who is the son of Malaysia’s second deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, said he told this to the police as well as his views on the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) when questioned for about an hour at the Shah Alam police station on Friday.
“I wasn’t inconsistent in my views. I wasn’t talking about anything more than following the constitutional boundaries that delineate roles in the country.
“The issue is that the power of religion should remain in hands of the rulers. That is their role in the constitution,” he said.
Tawfik said he told police his statements on abolishing Jakim, which were what got him into trouble, were in response to a question posed to him in an interview last year on what he felt was different now in the Government.
“The question arose: what do I feel is the difference between today and when Tunku and Tun Abdul Razak were at the helm of the country.
“I said that the biggest difference was that Jakim, under the Prime Minister’s office, is now usurping the role of the sultans and the state religious authorities,” he said.
He reiterated his opinion that the roles held by Jakim could be taken over from existing ministries.
“Their responsibilities can be borne by the Health and Trade ministries. You don’t need another department to enforce it at the expense of the Government,” he said.
However, he added that did not hold anything against the police for conducting the sedition probe on him.
“I believe the police have a duty to investigate any matter that has been raised as a concern to the public. They are right to do that,” he said.
Tawfik added that his views were his own and did not represent those of G25.