“Freedom of religion is a basic human right. Faith is a private sphere of an individual.
"It is a way of life that everyone chooses according to their own wishes. Although all religions have similarities in their values of life, they are often practiced very differently.
“When people from different religions have different views and insist on others to practice following their own way, this is not only a violation of human rights, but it will also create conflicts,” the former deputy minister said.
“Therefore, politics and public administration must emphasise that politics and religion must be separated and cannot be combined, especially in a multiracial, multicultural and multireligious society,” she said in her speech at the international symposium themed “Combating Extremism, Safeguarding Peace and Stability” organised by China Association for Friendship in Beijing.
Chew also said all policies formulated by the government must respect and protect human rights.
“There should be no subjective beliefs, thoughts, and practices that belong to a particular group imposed on others,” she added.
Chew also shared her observation and views on the matter in Malaysia.
“As a country with diverse ethnicity, culture and religion, Malaysia clearly stipulates that Islam is a national religion, but it has always pursued a secular system in politics and never ruled the country with theocracy,” she said.
“However, as a country with a large Muslim population, Malaysia is inevitably affected by international Islamic extremism.”
With over 60% of Muslims in the population, Chew said there is fierce competition in garnering support from Malay Muslims and there are more people who promote Islamisation policies.
“The most obvious example is the Islamist party in Malaysia, PAS, that insists on governing with Islamic laws.
After the Democratic Action Party helped to ‘bleach’ the party, the party has grown its influence.
"The state government formed by the party, has injected religious elements into the policy,” she said.
However, incidents such as the Muslim-only laundrette, reflect that such a phenomenon has penetrated into certain parts of society.
“If left unattended, this could lead to more radical and extreme religious actions,” she cautioned.
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