DAP’s Ngeh apologises for statement on non-Muslim inclusion in special committee

PETALING JAYA: DAP lawmaker Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, who has sparked controversy over his suggestions to strengthen the Syariah Court system for Muslims, has apologised and retracted his earlier statement calling for non-Muslims to be included in a special committee formed by the Federal Government to study the Syariah law.

The Beruas MP said that it was not his intention to interfere in the management of Islamic affairs and that he had initially thought that the government was seeking proposals to amend the Federal Constitution.

In his Dec 28 statement, Ngeh had proposed that the special committee, formed to study proposals to strengthen the Syariah Court’s role, include a non-Muslim legal expert.

"I thought this process included proposals to amend the Federal Constitution. My suggestion was to ensure that all views are considered before any proposed amendments are made," Ngeh wrote in a statement on Saturday (Dec 30).

ALSO READ: Proposal to include non-Muslim expert in special Syariah law committee is baseless, says Mohd Na'im

"Until it was clarified recently, I did not know that the special committee had been formed by the National Committee on Islamic Affairs chaired by Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah," Ngeh wrote.

"Therefore, I retract my suggestion and wholeheartedly apologise. I had no intention of interfering in Islamic affairs," he added.

On Friday (Dec 29) Sultan Sharafuddin said that non-Muslims must refrain from interfering in matters relating to Islamic affairs.

ALSO READ: Appointing non-Muslim experts in the Syariah committee will spark controversy, says Umno's secretary-general

Through the Facebook page of the Selangor Royal Office, Sultan Sharafuddin had expressed hope that politicians, especially non-Muslims, will be careful with their comments on Islamic matters.

“Instead, non-Muslims should emulate Muslims, who do not interfere in the religious affairs of other faiths in Malaysia,” said His Royal Highness, who added that the special committee consists of experts well-versed in various aspects of legal and Islamic affairs.

Several political parties, including PAS, Umno and Bersatu, have taken Ngeh to task over his suggestion and described it as "provocative".

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