Lawyers Help Catholics Understand Constitution

The MyConstitution campaign aims to help Malaysians understand the Federal Constitution better

Religion in Malaysia is a personal matter, a lawyer promoting understanding of the Federal Constitution told Catholics recently.

“The government should not be concerned about what you do unless it is a crime,” Aston Philip Paiva told parishioners of St. Ignatius Church in Petaling Jaya on July 11.

Paiva was part of a team of lawyers from a Constitutional Law Committee formed under the aegis of the Bar Council of Malaysia last November to launch and promote its MyConstitution campaign.

The two-year campaign aims to help Malaysians know the Federal Constitution better.

On the frequently asked question of whether Malaysia is an Islamic state, Paiva said Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is recognized as the religion of the federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony.

Referring to the controversy over the use of “Allah” by the Catholic Herald newspaper, he said, “Why should this [the use of the word “Allah”] bother others … Your religious right is your business.”

The decision to set up an interfaith committee by the Malaysian Cabinet in April was a brilliant idea, he said. “But there are very narrow-minded views that ‘my religion is better than yours.’ … We must move on.”

“The Federal Constitution is a complex legal document, and very few Malaysians understand it,” said Constitutional Law Committee chairperson committee Edmund Bon. “Thus, this campaign is going to simplify it for you.”

The MyConstitution campaign, believed to be the first of its kind, has uploaded information on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The Constitutional Law Committee, which also includes students, academics and NGO members, hopes to reach out through radio as well as conduct debates and discussions.

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