27
Apr
15

New open letter by 40 urges Putrajaya to restore moderation

Another group of Malaysians, including prominent former civil servants and leaders, have signed an open letter urging Putrajaya to recommit to 10 universal values which make Malaysia a moderate country.

The letter signed by 40 individuals said the values – trust, responsibility, honesty, dedication, moderation, diligence, discipline, cooperation, honourable behaviour and thanksgiving – were introduced in 1982 by the government to inculcate universal Islamic values.

The letter comes five months after a group of 25 prominent Malays (G25) issued an open letter calling for a rational dialogue on Islam, which has drawn widespread support from many quarters.

In the letter by the 40, titled “Strengthen the foundational structure of our nation”, the group wrote that moderation as a value was being “ignored by certain quarters, including political leaders who espouse sectarian views to suit their audiences”.

“Never before in this country’s history have such stresses and strains been made to bear upon the foundational principles of nationhood which now threaten to subvert the bonds that have held all Malaysians together and kept the nation comprising the territorial components of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak intact,” the letter said.

The three-page statement, signed by former judges, ambassadors, activists, educationists and notable individuals, said Malaysia had a “civil national order which is religion neutral”.

The group said that it was “deeply concerned” moderation was being drowned by louder voices of intolerance and extremism that were threatening to tear the unity of Malaysians apart.

“It is unfortunate that the policy of promoting these 10 values has become a platform for ‘Islamisation’ by religious bureaucrats.”

They noted that public confidence in the legal system has eroded over the years, owing to religious bureaucrats, whom, they said, had been given “overarching” significance over the Federal Constitution.

The group said Malaysia’s constitutional history recorded the fact that the country was a secular nation with Islam as the religion of the federation.

“As a rainbow nation of many peoples with diverse religions, we charted our destiny upon a civil and non-religious national legal order resting firmly on the twin principles of the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law.

“We are not a theocratic state with religious law being prescribed as the supreme law of the land. Neither should we be forced to live by the rule of religious diktats where decrees of religious bureaucrats have legal and punitive effect.

“Lip service and pious platitudes acknowledge the supremacy of the constitution as the nation’s supreme law. At the same time, diktats of the religious bureaucrats are given an overarching significance over the constitution.

“This has eroded public confidence in the national legal order and in the administrators and adjudicators of this order.”

They also blamed “religious bureaucrats” for halting the implementation of certain laws, such as the Domestic Violence Act 1994 which could not be brought into force for almost two years.

“A similar fate befell the stillborn law reform initiative to preserve the status quo of the rights of parties arising out of one spouse in a civil marriage converting to Islam upon the dissolution of their marriage.”

They said there have been serious jurisdictional issues and worrying decisions in terms of the judiciary when some civil courts had declined to make decisions on constitutional issues and had even handed over the duty to the Shariah Court.

“There is also grave concern about the negative impact on freedom of religion as well as the religious and civil rights of non-Muslims, for example, the constitutional right of parents to determine the religion and religious upbringing of their children who are minors,” the 40 individuals said.

Besides that, non-Muslim religions seem to be increasingly marginalised amid growing signs of non-tolerance against them, their beliefs and practices, the group added.

“This development undermines Malaysia’s claim to be a model moderate nation where Islam co-exists harmoniously with other religions in a multicultural society.”

Saying they wrote the letter with “deep anguish”, the group urged Putrajaya to recommit itself to the pursuit of the 10 universal values to make Malaysia a great nation and expressed their support for the concerns and recommendations raised by the G25 group in December.

“We consider ourselves duty-bound to call upon the federal government and the state governments to give their undivided attention to this grave peril which our nation faces.”

Among the signatories were Datuk Albert Talalla, former ambassador to China, Germany and the US; Bob Teoh, former general-secretary of National Union of Journalists; Datuk Choo Siew Kioh, former ambassador to Sweden and Mali; and Tan Sri Clifford Francis Herbert, former secretary-general, Finance Ministry.

Others included Hartini Zainudin, child activist; Datuk K.J. Abraham, former deputy director-general of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage; Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, chairman of Proham and past president of the Malaysian Bar; Datuk Lily Zachariah, former ambassador to Italy, Chile and Senegal; Datuk Stephen Foo Kiat Shin, former state attorney-general of Sabah; Dr Lyana Khairuddin, educator and scientist working on HIV and HPV; Datuk Stanley Isaacs, former head of Prosecution, Commissioner of Law Revision and Parliamentary Draftsmen of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

…more
New open letter by 40 urges Putrajaya to restore moderation
19 April 2015 – TMI

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