Apology notwithstanding, article contents warrant further investigation

PRESS STATEMENT BY CENTHRA & Young Professionals (YP)

9 October 2015

The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA) and Young Professionals (YP) refer to the recent article by the Malay Mail Online columnist Boo Su-Lyn titled “Abolish Federal Constitution’s Article 11(4)” published on October 2, 2015 by the Malay Mail Online and subsequently withdrawn with apology on October 7, 2015

The columnist had in the article and using the recent decision of the Federal Court in Ezra Zaid’s case against the Selangor Religious Affairs Department for banning the sale and distribution of the Malay version of Irshad Manji’s book, Allah, Liberty and Love or known in Malay as Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta.as a pretext, called for the abolition of Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, which empowers states to make laws restricting the propagation of non-Islamic religious doctrine or other philosophies amongst Muslims.

CENTHRA and YP strongly condemn the article’s contents as vile, despicable and unacceptable. We adamantly defend the existence of Article 11(4) as justified on the grounds of social cohesion amongst Malaysians of various races, religions and persuasions. Indeed it is widely known amongst all Malaysians, including non-Muslims, that propagation of non-Islamic creed amongst Muslims is absolutely prohibited by Islam and that Islam being the Religion of the Federation as defined by Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, any restriction in law in respect thereof is necessitated given that such activities could give rise to racial and religious tension. Such a situation does not augur well for the prosperity of Malaysia.

It is further stressed that the writer knows or ought reasonably to have known that Muslims by and large do not wish for their faith or its practice to be corrupted by non-Islamic doctrine and philosophies and that to this end Islamic laws and Islamic authorities thereby established are absolutely necessary to contain, suppress and reverse this phenomenon, which has become more evident in recent times. We see a persistent attack on Islam’s position as the religion of the nation following decisions made in recent cases besides Ezra Zaid’s case such as the Lina Joy and Herald cases, among others. The writer’s advocating their abolition therefore, would make her complicit in the spread of such corruption. This notwithstanding, CENTHRA and YP believe that the existence of these Islamic authorities are desired by the great majority of Muslims, in spite of the writer’s own report contending otherwise published on the Malay Mail Online on 5 October 2015.

With reference to the apology, wherein both the writer and the publication have apologised to anyone who may have been offended by the article, we believe that the word ‘offensive’ does not even begin to describe the hurt felt by many sincere practising Muslims felt upon reading the same. The writer’s own posting of the apology on her Facebook page is captioned with the heading “Make of it what you will” suggesting that she is not sincere in making this apology.

Further it is to be noted that the apology did not touch upon the writer’s call for the abolition of Article 10(4) of the Constitution in the same, which enables a law, namely the Sedition Act 1948, to prohibit the question of four fundamental elements that make up our social contract, namely Part III (Citizenship), Article 152 (National Language), Article 153 (Special Position of Natives) and Article 181 (Sovereignty of the Rulers). This call, in our view, amounts to direct questioning and disputation of these provisions, which amounts to seditious tendency within the meaning of Section 3(1)(f) of the Sedition Act 1948.

CENTHRA and YP are also concerned that the writer’s article is but one of many recent attempts to challenge the grundnorm of this nation and given the possible offence that has been committed, urge the Police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and other relevant authorities to investigate this latest attempt, exemplified by this article of the writer, without further delay. CENTHRA and YP also call upon the Bar Council, as mandated by section 42(1)(a) and (d) of the Legal Profession Act 1976, to state its stand on this matter as it concerns the nation’s apex law, namely the Federal Constitution.

We trust that all the relevant stakeholders in this matter will perform and discharge their duties accordingly.

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