The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, must act immediately to guarantee a stop to any further illegal and unconstitutional raids by Islamic authorities on other religions or his assurances, whether in Christmas or New Year messages, mean nothing and lose all credibility.
Less than ten days after Najib’s two Christmas Speeches, one at the Federation of Malaysia’s Christmas Hi-Tea in Kuala Lumpur and the other at the national-level Christmas Open House in Penang, his message of moderation, harmony and co-existence have been thrown to the winds in the unprecedented and unconstitutional raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) and the police at the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia and the seizure of about 350 copies of Malay and Iban Bibles.
Najib had said that rather than choosing the path of fighting over their differences, it is better for Muslims and Christians to find a common ground “to preserve the peace, harmony and stability of the country”, urging both groups to understand the sensitivities of each other’s religions so as not to offend another.
Najib said: “Muslims should not hurt the feelings of Christians and likewise, Christians should not hurt the feelings of Muslims.”
But this was the sentiment that was trampled upon in the illegal and unconstitutional raid by Jais at the Bible Society of Malaysia yesterday.
Najib had said in his Christmas speeches that a moderate and rational approach was needed to keep Malaysia peaceful and harmonious, that “differences in religious faith is not a weakening factor in our society, but rather a strong element in nation building for it serves as a constant reminder that we have so much to share in common, the values which are universally accepted like patriotism, peace, love, kindness, helping the poor and needy, social justice and so on”.
Najib also said: “We may differ in our faiths, but we are not divided”.
Again this message was completely lost in the illegal and unconstitutional raid yesterday.
Najib had targeted politicians he accused of stirring controversy for political gain and without regard for peace and harmony when he said:
“Time and again, these have tested our resolve to remain a tolerant and peaceful nation. Like all tests that have come before, we have been exercising restraint in our responses yet resolute in defending our moderate and harmonious way of life.
“Irresponsible politicians who only seek short-term fame at the expense of harmony, will constantly evoke the sensitivities and fault lines to portray oneself as a hero for political mileage.
“I have always frowned upon such irresponsible conduct and I trust all citizens will view this conduct nothing but a folly.”
The illegal and unconstitutional raid by Jais at the premises of Bible Society of Malaysia and seizure of Malay and Iban versions of Bible is the worst example of such “irresponsible conduct” and “folly” which calls for immediate action by the the Prime Minister. He must do more than just “frown”.
In his New Year message, Najib took note of the need to be active in the pursuit of unity as a result of the worsening of racial and religious relations in the past year.
He said: “Our responsibility – and my priority – is to secure the continued peace, stability and progress on which Malaysia’s future rests. Rebuilding our national unity, and encouraging public debate based on respect, is a great part of that. As the new year unfolds, you will hear more from my government about how we will do so.”
Surely, the illegal and unconstitutional raid by Islamic authorities on other religions is not what Najib has in mind about what he promised Malaysians as to how the Barisan Nasional government will rebuild national unity as the “new year unfolds” – in fact, he needs to give assurance that such illegal and unconstitutional developments are exactly events which will not be permitted to happen as they will exacerbate disunity and division rather than rebuild national unity.
Lim Kit Siang
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