KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has strongly opposed the proposed bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions.
“A plural and multi-religious Malaysia cannot be bound by a law that is so backward and divisive in nature,” stressed PRS vice-president and Women chief Datuk Seri Doris Brodie in a statement on Friday (Sept 10).
She was referring to a recent news article in which Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary was reported to have said that four new Shariah laws were being drafted by the federal government, including a bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions.
Doris said this was a divisive approach; the bill risked dividing Malaysians. It also contradicted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s call for all Malaysians to come together as ‘Keluarga Malaysia’.
“Besides, the protocol in announcing the proposed laws is like putting the cart before the horse. As explained by federal de facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, the proposed laws have yet to be brought to the Cabinet and all states must consent to those laws before they could be brought to Parliament since religious matters come under the jurisdiction of the state government.
“We in PRS see it as an overzealous act without any thought-out consequences and a good understanding of the procedure,” she said.
More importantly, Doris said, the proposed bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions was unconstitutional as it contradicted Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
“Besides, to propose a bill to control and restrict the development of non-Muslim religions is against the spirit of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that Islam is the religion of the federation, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation,” she said.
She said PRS also believed that the proposed bill would not fare well with Sarawakians.
“Sarawakians will be united on this. Like Sabah, we strongly believe that our Sarawak government is also holding firmly to the principle of religious freedom as declared both in the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” she said.
She noted that the nation had endured various forms of turbulence since the 14th general election (GE14) – including political turmoil, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the transition of two governments and three prime ministers to date while the country’s economy was in a fragile and tough state.
“I think Malaysians at large are expecting and looking forward to an effective and comprehensive post-Covid-19 recovery plan that focuses not only on the financial aspects but also on social safety nets, food security, education and cohesive social fabric.”