The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is disturbed and saddened by the decision of the Federal Court in the Lina Joy’s case, where the Court has confirmed the National Registration Department’s right to insist on a certificate from the Syariah Court that she has apostatized, prior to registering her conversion in the identity card.
We reiterate that the NRD’s insistence on such a certificate being produced has curtailed the fundamental right of an individual to profess and express his or her religion as provided for in Article 11.
We have also noted with much concern that this decision reflects a growing trend of decisions in the courts where civil courts are abdicating their responsibility of providing legal redress to individuals who only seek to profess and live their religion according to their conscience.
As a result of this decision, it is now more pressing for the government and lawmakers to revisit the relevant legislation and to reinstate the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts so that equal protection of the right to choose and express one’s religion is accorded to all Malaysians, as enshrined in Article 11.
The CFM will continue to cooperate with the government and all Malaysians to uphold the Government’s vision of upholding the multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious character of our nation.
Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ
Chairman and Executive Committee
Christian Federation of Malaysia
Dated 30th May 2007
The Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (PEMBELA) welcome today's decision by the Federal Court by praising Allah the Almighty for by His grace and mercy that the court has taken this position. We welcome and applaud this decision by which we believe that justice has been served. We believe that this decision is a relief for the majority of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Malaysia.
We say this because we see this decision as vindicating and upholding the existing arrangement relating to the position of Islam and the Shariah courts in the constitutional and legal set-up of the country. An arrangement that has been in place since before independence and 50 years after. It has been well accepted by all communities to the extend that for 50 years after Merdeka (Independence) we have been able to maintain one of the best records in the world of a multiracial multireligious society co-existing and building a nation together. In that spirit, this decision should not be perceived as a victory for Muslims and a loss for non-Muslims in Malaysia. Instead it should be seen as a rejection of an attempt by a certain individuals and segments to deconstruct and radically revamp of the current formula. A formula built upon a mutual appreciation and understanding of the historical background and social realities of the Malaysian society. One that is in harmony and reflects well with what we are as a nation.
We would like to urge all parties to accept the decision wholly and graciously. We also plead to those who were hoping for an opposite outcome to consider modifying their expectations to suit what is good and more sustainable given our circumstances. We reiterate that this decision is clearly more just and fair in a broader and higher sense of these words.
We also hope that we have seen the last of similar attempts. We invite instead anyone who feels that they are aggrieved within the existing arrangement, to choose other less confrontational, controversial or disruptive approach towards change or reform.
We also take this opportunity, in a time when Islamophobia seems to be very popular, to call upon all Islamic religious authorities and agencies to be extra diligent, efficient and professional in discharging their duties so that the good name of the religion does not suffer by mistakes or weaknesses at the implementation level. The Muslim NGOs are willing to come to the assistance of anyone, Muslims or non-Muslims, in genuine cases. It would be un-Islamic and wrong for us to tolerate any injustice, even by Muslims or in the name of Islam. Having said that, as Muslims, we re-affirm our full faith in the notion of justice as espoused by true teachings of Islam.
On behalf:Organisations to the Defence of Islam (PEMBELA) and President of the Muslim youth Movement of Malaysia
The Malaysia Hindu Sangam is gravely concerned with the Federal Court’s majority decision in Lina Joy’s case.
The Federal Court by a 2-1 majority today rejected the appeal by this ethnic Malay (who was born to Muslim parents but says she is now a Christian) for the Government to issue her an identity card without the description “Islam” on it. Lina Joy had argued that the Government’s requirement for her to first obtain a declaration from the Islamic court that she had “apostasized” from Islam was unconstitutional.
The decision may have serious personal repercussions for a significant number of persons living in Malaysia who say they are not Muslim but are nevertheless being forced to comply with Islamic laws by the government.
We anxiously await a perusal of the full written grounds of judgment to assess the full implications of this decision.
In the meanwhile, since the Judiciary appears unable or unwilling to act in these matters, we call on Parliament and all State Legislatures to urgently enact laws that ensure persons who do not profess Islam are not subjected to Islamic law.
The fundamental liberty of all Malaysians to profess and practise their faith in peace and harmony must be respected, both in fact and in law.
Dated 30th May 2007
Datuk A. Vaithilingam PJN, SSA, AMN, ASA, PJK
Malaysia Hindu Sangam