CLS Press Statement: CLS Welcomes Interfaith Dialogue

The Catholic Lawyers’ Society Kuala Lumpur (CLS) welcomes the proposal by the National Unity Council to hold talks between religious and community leaders and the proposal by the Selangor State Government to carry out inter faith dialogues and forum to improve race relations in the State.

Efforts to improve relations between the religious groups in this country have become urgent and pressing.

Father Lawrence Andrew became the focus of fury of Muslims in Selangor to the extent his effigy was burnt. He has been questioned by the police and threats of demonstrations and protests continues to be made by Muslim NGOs. As a man of God, he stands firm on his right to worship his God the way he wants and for the Bahasa Malaysia speaking Christians to pray the way they have been doing for generations. Such rights have been guaranteed under Article 11(3) of the Federal Constitution.

Recently, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) faced a sudden and shocking seizure of 300 Al-Kitab and Iban bibles by JAIS notwithstanding the 10-Point Solution by the cabinet that allowed the importation, printing and distribution of the Al-Kitab in Peninsular Malaysia. JAIS relied on the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 (the 1988 Selangor State Enactment) to justify their actions whilst Non-Muslims rely on the Federal Constitution to safeguard their rights.

To avoid perpetual confusion and uncertainty in Malaysia, lawmakers should repeal unconstitutional laws or amend them to bring them in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution. There must be clarity and certainty in the laws affecting race and religion to prevent conflicts between the different religious groups in Malaysia.

The CLS welcomes calls to amend the 1988 Selangor State Enactment but will go further and request that the Enactment and like enactments in other states be harmonised with the Federal Constitution. Lawmakers should protect the rights of all citizens of the country and uphold the Federal Constitution.

CLS expresses its utmost gratitude to all non-Christians who came to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang to show support and solidarity with the Christian community. CLS calls on all Malaysians to respect the rights of all citizens especially the right to freedom of religion and practice one’s faith free of intimidation and interference.

Viola De Cruz Silva
Catholic Lawyers’ Society Kuala Lumpur

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