Religious group supports atheists’ rights

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Malaysia has no laws that force people to have a religious affiliation, a minority faith group told a deputy minister who claimed that atheism was illegal.

Jagir Singh, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) — Picture by Choo Choy May

Jagir Singh, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), said that atheists are therefore free to profess their beliefs.

“Article 11(1) [of the Federal Constitution] gives the right to every person to profess and practise his religion. It is noted that a deputy minister has stated that it is not equal to freedom of religion, that is, every person must have a religion. There is nothing in the Federal Constitution, or any law in Malaysia that says every person must have a religion,” Jagir said.

On the Rukun Negara which lists “belief in God” as one of its principles, Jagir said it was included as most Malaysians were already professing their belief in religion.

According to the lawyer, the principle also meant that there was already due recognition that there were also some without any religious beliefs.

“Of course most Malaysians have [a] religion. This fact was recognised in the Rukun Negara. The first point being ‘belief in God’. It ascertains that most Malaysians have a religion,” said Jagir.

“This was the reason they included it as ‘kepercayaan kepada Tuhan’, and thus recognising that there may be some without religion .

“It must be remembered also, that Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty. To be atheist is not against any law,” he added. Read more

Lawyer: What happens to atheists if Rukunegara included in Federal Constitution?

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu, president of Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia, speaking during a roundtable talk on the Rukunegara, organised by Perkasa, in Kuala Lumpur March 5, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu, president of Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia, speaking during a roundtable talk on the Rukunegara, organised by Perkasa, in Kuala Lumpur March 5, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — The rights of atheists to not believe in the existence of God would be affected if the Rukunegara is made a preamble of the Federal Constitution, a Muslim lawyer said today.

“Next, one of the five tenets of the Rukunegara is believing in God. Now here arises a question; how about those who do not have religion? The Orang Asli, the aborigines in Sabah and Sarawak who do not have religion?

“If ‘believing in God’ is made a preamble of the Federal Constitution that has a legal impact in the end, there will be some who will then argue that all Malaysians must trust in God,” Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar who practices both civil and Shariah law, told a roundtable discussion here.

The talk was organised by Malay-rights group Perkasa to discuss the proposal brought forward by a group of seven activists calling themselves “Rukunegara Muqaddimah Perlembagaan” (RMP), to push for the Rukunegara or National Principles to be made a preamble of the Federal Constitution.

Zainul said that while such a tenet is not a problem for Muslims, but Islam in itself guarantees freedom of religion even for non-believers and atheists alike.

“We cannot force people who don’t believe in God to convert to Islam, we cannot force those who don’t believe in God to convert to Buddhism and so on,” he added. Read more

Tun Hamid: Rukun Negara tak wajar jadi mukadimah Perlembagaan

Sumber: FMT News

Bekas ketua hakim negara Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad berkata mukadimah digubal pakar perundangan dengan tujuan untuk menjadikannya mukadimah kepada Perlembagaan. Rukun Negara tidak semestinya digubal pakar perundangan dan ia untuk tujuan politik negara.

Bekas ketua hakim negara Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad berkata mukadimah digubal pakar perundangan dengan tujuan untuk menjadikannya mukadimah kepada Perlembagaan. Rukun Negara tidak semestinya digubal pakar perundangan dan ia untuk tujuan politik negara.

KUALA LUMPUR: Rukun Negara diwujudkan atas sebab keadaan politik negara justeru tidak sesuai dijadikan mukadimah Perlembagaan Persekutuan, kata bekas ketua hakim negara Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad.

Beliau menyuarakan kebimbangan jika Rukun Negara dijadikan mukadimah yang mempunyai kuasa undang-undang dan hakim perlu menggunakannya untuk mentafsir perlembagaan, ia berisiko mewujudkan penghakiman yang bertentangan dengan peruntukan sedia ada.

Beliau berkata demikian dalam perutusan khas Sidang Meja Bulat Perkasa: Rukun Negara Dijadikan Mukadimah Perlembagaan Persekutuan? yang dibacakan oleh Presiden Perkasa, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, hari ini.

Program itu susulan kempen sekumpulan aktivis melalui gerakan Rukunegara sebagai Mukadimah Perlembagaan agar Rukun Negara dijadikan mukadimah kepada Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Gerakan itu akan mendapatkan sokongan tokoh-tokoh ternama dan orang ramai sebelum dibawa kepada Majlis Raja-raja Melayu.

Mukadimah adalah kenyataan pengenalan yang menyatakan prinsip dan panduan bagi perlembagaan sesebuah negara. Perlembagaan Persekutan Malaysia tidak memiliki mukadimah.

“Mukadimah digubal pakar perundangan dengan tujuan untuk menjadikannya mukadimah kepada Perlembagaan.

Rukun Negara tidak semestinya digubal pakar perundangan dan ia untuk tujuan politik negara, bagaimana hendak dijadikan mukadimah?” kata Abdul Hamid.

Rukun Negara mempunyai 5 prinsip diperkenalkan susulan peristiwa 13 Mei 1969 iaitu Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan, Kesetiaan Kepada Raja dan Negara, Keluhuran Perlembagaan, Kedaulatan Undang-undang dan Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan. Read more

Rekindling Tunku’s commitment to liberty and justice — Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY TUNKU ZAIN Al-‘ABIDIN

opinion-clipart-k12118272FEBRUARY 10 — Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj declared in the Proclamation of Independence of the Federation of Malaya, and then the Proclamation of Malaysia, that this nation of ours will “forever be a nation based on the principles of liberty and justice”.

Right from the beginning, liberty and justice were the twin principles that were to inspire our nation — sentiments repeated across his many speeches and writings, as well as those of other leaders of the era such as Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman or Datuk Mohamad Said.

The Rukunegara talks about “guaranteeing a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions.”  Those who fail to realise these values are the founding philosophy of our country should read the documents instead of distorting and misinterpreting selected words of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, politicians everywhere have lost the ability to lead, and have instead succumbed to winning simply through populism, as the votes for Brexit and Donald Trump have shown.  My fear is that we will see a greater lurch towards populism as we get closer to the 14th General Election.

Exploiting ethnic and religious tensions is among the easiest ways to make political gains, notwithstanding helpful electoral boundaries and privileged access to media which will pliantly obscure the elephants in the room. Read more

Into the future – together — Zainah Anwar

Source: The Star Online

BY ZAINAH ANWAR

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

AS we stumble into 2017 in a Malaysia and a world full of uncertainties, and a US President shooting from his hip, causing global turmoil, I am glad that there are actually two important discussions taking place now in Malaysia on the kind of country we want to live in.

One is the TN50 series of national dialogues with young people on the Malaysia they envision by 2050. The other is the effort to make Rukunegara the preamble to the Constitution. And I believe they should feed into each other.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who is leading the TN50 dialogue, rightfully said this process is not just about defining policies for national development, but importantly, also about defining our national identity.

That many politicians are still determined to use ethnicity and religion to not only define us, but to divide us remains a dominant leitmotif of Malaysian politics to this day.

In his recent interview with The Star, Khairy stated that one of the areas of engagement in TN50 will be the subject of “an inclusive, vibrant and open society”.

This, he hopes, will lead to a discussion on values and what a Malaysian identity should be.

I hope these dialogue sessions will be a platform where diverse groups of stakeholders can get to listen to each other and think. And in this process the “I” can become a ‘We” – we, Malaysians. Read more

Need for an enlightened judiciary — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

OF late we have heard a ratcheting up of proposals to fortify our body politic – by amending the Federal Constitution. The outgoing chief justice proposes that we amend the constitution to entrench the right to a clean and healthy environment. Several NGOs also clamour for the inclusion of the tenets of the Rukun Negara as a preamble to our constitution.

All very laudable. And certainly well-meant, of course. These beneficent add-ons cannot but help strengthen the protection of the environment, the rule of law, rights, preserve the integrity of institutions and keep unbridled power in check.

The objective is to ensure that new laws are shaped – and existing laws reshaped – to put into effect the thrust of these changes; and by which the country’s governance will be adjudged. And that the courts, as the final arbiter when there is a contestation between the citizenry and the executive, will implement these accordingly.

This is where the rub lies. There are already sufficient provisions in our laws – written laws passed by Parliament, the common law (pronounced by court decisions) and the custom or usage of our natives (the orang asal of Sarawak and Sabah; and the orang asli of Peninsular Malaysia) – to achieve the same objectives. Read more

Activists want Rukunegara included in Federal Constitution

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Chandra Muzaffar. — Picture by Saw Siaw Feng

Chandra Muzaffar. — Picture by Saw Siaw Feng

PETALING JAYA, Jan 21 — A group of seven national activists are pushing for the Rukunegara or National Principles to preface the Federal Constitution on the premise that the move would lead to unity and prosperity that will somehow strengthen the country.

The movement is headed by 1Malaysia Foundation chairman Chandra Muzaffar. The others are: Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni, Professor Madya Dr Madeline Berma who is director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Tun Fatimah Hashim Women’s Leadership Centre, law professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Musawah global movement director Zainah Anwar and Professor CT Tan.

“Today, we have all become more divisive and there are greater tendency to take on the antagonist position on various matters in the country.

“Thus, by having the Rukunegara preambled to the Constitution, it would give the law a meaning or rather an ‘added value’ because these principles transcend gender, ethnicity, religion and region,” Chandra told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview. Read more

Rukun Negara as the Constitution’s Preamble — Shad Faruqi

Source: The Star Online

BY SHAD SALEEM FARUQI

Shad Saleem Faruqi - file pic

Shad Saleem Faruqi – file pic

AUG 31, 2017, will be the 60th anniversary of Merdeka and of the Federal Constitution. In conjunction with this important milestone, a group of distinguished citizens is taking the initiative to propose to the Government that our venerated national ideology – the Rukun Negara – be incorporated into the Federal Constitution as its Preamble.

Preambles are opening statements that express the aims and objects, dreams and demands, values and ideals of a nation.

They are “glittering generalities” and polestars for action. They provide the guiding light for interpreting the Constitution and are its chart and compass.

Almost all the 180 Constitutions of the world possess Preambles. But Malaysia is an exception.

Our Constitution lacks a Preamble. Our basic law’s rich ideals, values and goals have to be extracted and distilled from the 183 Articles and 13 Schedules that constitute our supreme law.
Read more

Rukunegara be made the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution? Go for it, G25 says

Source: Astro Awani

Civil society, human rights activists and the public can refer to the Rukunegara and cite its fundamental principles in seeking fairness and justice.

KUALA LUMPUR: G25, a group of moderate Malaysians concerned about the peace and national unity among the various races, issues this public statement to support the suggestion from Dr Chandra Muzaffar that the Rukunegara be made the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution.

The Rukunegara is the national ideology for creating a united and prosperous country and it is therefore appropriate that it be elevated to be the preamble to the constitution, which is the supreme law in our parliamentary democracy.

Dr Chandra’s suggestion is timely in view of the current state of national unity which is still fragile despite the country achieving remarkable progress in its 60 years of economic development.

While in terms of income and key social indicators Malaysia is fast approaching the status of a developed country, all these impressive statistics will have little meaning if we continue to be a divided nation. Indeed, unless we resolve the socio-political issues of race and religion that continue to cause friction among the population, and which often create barriers in formulating strong policies for growth, quality education, talent development, meritocracy, innovation and creativity, there  will always be doubt about the sustainability of our development process and our progress towards a truly united nation. Read more

Rukunegara should be made the national ideology, G25 member says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said several incidents in recent years have threatened national unity and that although they were largely due to political posturing, their recurrence could create fear and instability, ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said several incidents in recent years have threatened national unity and that although they were largely due to political posturing, their recurrence could create fear and instability, ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Malaysia should revive the spirit of the Rukunegara by formally adopting it as the country’s national ideology and use it to curb racial and religious tensions here before they affect national unity and the economy, a member of G25 said today.

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim said several incidents in recent years have threatened national unity and that although they were largely due to political posturing, their recurrence could create fear and instability.

“The incidents themselves are not frightening but the perception that they are politically motivated and tolerated by the law enforcement authorities is most damaging to the country’s reputation for social and political stability.

“It’s a black mark, which can be a drag on the country’s economy,” he said in a letter emailed to the press. Read more