Baru Bian: Proposed bill will divide rather than unite Malaysians

KUCHING: A proposed new syariah bill to control the development of non-Muslim religions is unconstitutional and will encourage religious intolerance, says Selangau MP Baru Bian.

The Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) lawmaker said the Federal Constitution clearly safeguarded the right of non-Muslims to practise and propagate their religions so long as it does not involve Muslims.

"Passing more laws to control and restrict religious freedoms only encourages religious intolerance and bigotry.

"This latest move by the government makes a mockery of the Malaysian Family concept propounded by the new Prime Minister in his maiden speech. It will divide rather than unite Malaysians," he said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 9).

Baru was commenting on the announcement by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuki Shaary that the government planned to draft four new syariah laws, including the Control on the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bill.

The others are the Wakaf Bill, Mufti Bill and Syariah Court Bill.

On Ahmad Marzuki's remarks that the bill was in response to the recent High Court decision that non-Muslims can use the word "Allah", Baru said the court ruling was consistent with the rights of Malaysians, particularly Sarawakians and Sabahans, under the Federal Constitution and the recommendations and terms of the Inter-Governmental Committee Report 1962 and Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He called on Sarawakian ministers and deputy ministers, including de facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, to speak up against the bills should they be presented in the Cabinet.

"Better still, (Wan Junaidi) should advise the deputy minister against proceeding with it at this early stage.

"It is not good enough to brush the matter aside by saying some politicians shoot their mouths off," Baru said.

Wan Junaidi had said on Tuesday (Sept 7) that religious matters were under state jurisdiction and such laws by the Federal Government were not legally binding on the states.

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