Thursday, July 10, 2008

Religious freedom in Malaysia

Every time a person is converted to Islam and this may not be disclosed to the next of kin, it creates a lot of controversy, anger and anxiety when finally at death, he’s discovered to be converted to Muslim.

Early this year, it was proposed if one of the spouse is converted, the family members need to be notified or are aware of the repercussion and its implication. Like all religious matters, it is a sensitive issue. I can understand the unhappiness of the family of the late B.Elangesvaran who was buried in Muslim cemetory and family members failed to stop the burial as the court have ruled that he had converted to a Muslim.

I think all of us accept Islam as official religion in Malaysia. All right thinking Malaysians also accept the fact that we have religious freedom that anyone of us is allowed to have the religion of our choice and this is enshrined in the constitution. Upon the conversion of any person, there are areas of concern for the spouse who has freely chosen to remain in his / her faith, i.e. on issues of divorce, division of assets, maintenance, distribution and inheritance. Custody and guardianship of children, and the ability to have an equal say in determining their religion and upbringing, are also matters of great concern.

The legislative pillar of the government must study this matter with utmost concern and care in order to find an amicable solution.

The law must be reformed, to ensure that when an individual embraces Islam, the convert’s spouse (or ex-spouse), children and other family members’ rights and entitlements under civil laws remain unchanged. Regardless of such conversion, all issues arising out of the marriage must be settled according to civil law, and not state Islamic law enactments, since the marriage was solemnised or registered under civil law. Furthermore, legislation must be adopted to specify that only the civil courts have jurisdiction to hear any matter.

MCA is convinced that the rights and entitlements of the unconverted spouse must be guaranteed and so any legal and extra legal solutions must be, simply put. There is a need to build an alliance with the people of different faiths and develop clear policy statement, encourage dialogue between various faiths in order to achieve better understanding and accommodative attitude among different faiths;

MCA stands with the people to uphold and respect religious freedom, and against the spirit of overzealousness and intentional discrimination based on religion. We recognized that profession of faith is primarily a personal choice and involves freedom of conscience. MCA therefore calls for every person to be allowed the freedom to choose his / her religion.

Another sore point among the non-Muslims is the place of worship. Often, application for building and renovation will take years and some never see the light of the day. Often at the state level, such matter has to be referred to Security Council with representation from Muslim Council and non from non Muslim. This is something which is grossly unfair since you are a Muslim deciding on matters concerning non-Muslim. Often this council hardly meets and this explains why such application takes a long time.

When I was in the state government in Johor from 1990 – 2004, I failed to persuade the state government to set up an Inter-religion council so that such matter can be better coordinated. As to the alienation of land, although the Johor state government has allocated lands for worship for non Muslim, often personal touch and connection where the state executive council is important and I notice that the Majlis Keselamatan did not approve land applied by non-Muslim organizations. However, I am glad to say that those decisions are overruled by us and supported by Menteri Besar of Johor at the State Executive Council. The state government should formalize the provision of land for worship by non-Muslim and also the need to formalize the process for approval to repair, rebuild and erect building for worship. Until then, while we may have religious freedom, we not have equal and fair treatment and this is a point brought up by MCA at state and federal level. Success has been limited so far.


petestop said...

Your observation is correct, we applied for decades to get permit for new Church building on Church land using Church's money for decades and it was not approved.

This is in the Perak State.

50 years of BN and MCA have not helped at all, do you think we want to continue another 50 years of this kind of discrimination.

MCA is a toothless pussy cat in front of UMNO, but becomes a barking dog when putting down your own community.

At least now with the new PR govt in Perak, we have a new non-Muslim exco position. Furthermore, we are more convince of PAS ability to respect the other religion their rights to worship.

Please omit the C in MCA, as you do not represent us Chinese.

You can also omit the M in MCA as well, as neither do you represent Malaysian.

Chee Yong said...

In 2006 when PM Abdullah issued a gag order on the proposal to set up an interfaith commission, I remembered only 1 MCA politician questioned the PM’s gag order. Kota Melaka parliamentarian Wong Nai Chee.

So Mr Soi Leik, did you said anything then in your capacity as a MP then? said...

Dr Chua
I believe the family of the late Gan Eng Gor didn't get that much help from MCA when the old gentleman's body was taken. If I hear correctly, the family members were not even given the chance to have a proper funeral respect or spend time with the body like how we Chinese usually do. And this huge disparity on the allocations of funds for religious buildings have been around for decades and no one seems to question it until now, when Pakatan Rakyat took over. I am not questioning the past and what MCA has done or not done but I just wish to voice it as a normal rakyat, concerned for my fellow Malaysians who were aggrieved over the body snatching incidents. Hopefully, this will open the eyes of the politicians who preached about upholding the interests of Chinese or whatever race.

David said...

More needs to be done, the grievances of the non-muslims have long been voiced, but were they heard? the BN and its component parties have to stop just paying lip service and start getting their acts together now. the PR, for all its flaws, target this sentiment correctly, and have been able to respond. If BN wishes to stay in power, they better take heed of the warning.

NEIL said...

Dr,This sure is the most disgusting form of religious discrimination here in Malaysia.The gov't built mosque fpr the muslim whereas for other religion they have to solicit fund here and there.This is absolutely disgusting.No community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity.This government which is proclaiming itself to be islamic but on the other hand they are denying the basic rights to half of the population.So now where is FAIRNESS as I have always highlighted.All I keep on asking is PLEASE give us FAIRNESS and where is MCA when we needed FAIRNESS most.Among all the topics, this a 10 for Dr Chua becos it touches the hearts of we Chinese,things that we all hold so very dear close to our hearts.Thanks

yatim said...

Dear Dr. Chua, the more you write, the more you are telling the public what MCA and MIC have failed to do over the last 50 years. With MCA's and MIC's help UMNO has succesfully eroded the basic rights of the non-malays and non-muslims. No questions asked. That made them the arrogant master. I sincerely hope atleast from now on MCA and MIC drop the obedient dog nature and do some real job, so that there is no further erosion of our rights as citizen of this country.

NEIL said...

Dr, You are more famous everytime you touches on topics regarding MCA.This type of topic will sure be a indicator of the level of dissatisfaction among the chinese community.MCA need complete OVERHAUL in order to be relevant otherwise it's forever a wagging dog on leash,laying by the door steps of Wisma UMNO, waiting for the master to return with some stale bread.

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

Religious freedom appears to be more in theory than in practice
All the best features of freedom are yet to be put into practice
When with conditions and restrictions there's no justice
Only with genuine and thorough freedom will there be justice

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 100708
Thur. 10th July 2008.

petestop said...

Is this the best your Association can come up with,

Still going after PAS, when you have a bigger enemy in the form of UMNO behind your back.

I represent the new generation Malaysian Chinese, we really rather give PAS a chance than the proven discrimination by UMNO.

Why don't you go an bark at UMNO if you still have any worth ?

shan said...

1.Tell me honestly do you read the postings?
2. Your writings(if they are really typed/done by your goodself) are really great.
3. If you are really reading the postings on your own, I will definately salute you Sir. As unlike all the other Msia Boleh (present and ex. )BN politicans definately moderate the postings into the blog site.
Once again Datuk it quite nice to read your thoughts. Keep up the writings Sir.

KIMHO8 said...

在308之前,我沒有多大的勇氣向馬來朋友們聊起關于種族,宗教,政治的課題。 但在308之后,他們對大選的成績可以說是又驚又喜,我們之間的隔閡也因此慢慢的打開,變得無所不談,當然風俗禮儀還是要互相尊重。


sagaraptor said...

we in S'wak not accepting Islam as an official religion

RZLN said...

It appears that what the religion intents and how the believers practice it has have been diverging and continues to do so.

It also appears that in Malaysia, the greatness of the religion must be "protected" by these believers through the exclusion of others.

It is important that the Government must remain secular so that the true meaning of religious freedom can be achieved.

PL said...

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Federal constitution. Let me reveal how this freedom is abused and politicized.

My Form 2 daughter whom is studying in SMK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sg Buloh complained that students were forced to watch a documentary film by the discipline master when their usual form teacher was on leave. This particular film was about atrocities committed around the world showing clips of gory killing like cutting of throats and chopping of heads, all shown uncensored. After the movie ended, this discipline master started criticizing the Americans and began preaching the noble of Islamic religion to everyone in the audience including non-muslims. This discipline master then turns to making political speeches criticizing certain local politicians of their morality and credibility.

I believe this has been going on for a long time around the country. What has MOE been doing to stop this? Students at such young age being subjected to such brain-washing and mental abuse. Can you blame them for being racists when they grow up? 3-months of NS is not going to heal this wound…who are they trying to kid.

petestop said...

MCA if you are worth any salt, this is the time to get out of BN.

If you cannot accept PR, then form a 3rd force to check and balance between PR and the UMNO hegemony.

MCA have betrayed the Malaysian Chinese for 50 years... please correct this while you still have some decency.


YABs and YBs should vote with conscious, not on party line. When they become YAB's or YB's, they represent the people, not the party. What is the point if you dare to voice your opinion but dare not vote againts motions that are not benefiting the people in the parliament or state assembly?

NEIL said...

Dr, why delete my comments.Is it that my comments are too sensitive for your taste or is it lost somewhere in the monsoon drain?

Welcome to my Blog

As a concerned MCA member, I am trying my best to help in the process of rebuilding and repositioning of the party.

Therefore, I welcome party members and members of public to post your constructive suggestions and opinions on my blog on how to rebuild and reform the party, eventually enabling MCA to regain support from all party members and the community.

Thank you for your suggestions.