The announcement by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department(Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary that the federal government is drafting a Bill on controlling and restricting the development of non-Muslim religions is creating a lot of fear and uncertainty to Sarawakians of all faiths who have been living and practicing their respective religions in peace and harmony.

Ahmad Marzuk said this Bill is in response to the decision by the High Court that the word “Allah” can be used by non-Muslims This is of grave concern to the people of Sarawak. Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to profess and practice his religion as long as he doesn't propagate it to the Muslims as provided in Clause (4).

In the formation of of Malaysia, it was agreed that Sarawak would have no state religion. This is one of the primary condition for Sarawak and Sabah to form Malaysia in 1963. Sarawakians have the right to choose and practice the religions they want. It looks like this freedom is slowly been taken away by the federal government if nothing is done about it.

The Law Minister, Wan Junaidi said there was no proposals to enact laws to restrict or control the development of non-Muslims religion and neither has the matter been brought to the cabinet. He went on to say that religion is a state matter and under state control. Then why is Ahmad Marzuk trying to enact this Bill in Parliament when it is a state matter? As Law Minister, Wan Junaidi and the GPS government should put this matter to rest once and for all.

It was reported in by the Malay Mail on May 29, 2016 that Tan Sri Joseph Kurup warned that Sabah and Sarawak would go 'Separate ways' if Parliament passed the Shariah Courts(Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. He said the Bill risk dividing East and West Malaysia and called for its withdrawal.

Now with the impending introduction of a Bill to limit and control the development of non-Muslims religions, this issue is even more important. GPS should know they are elected to represent and protect the interest of the people of Sarawak and this includes the freedom to practice one's own religion. There is no exception to this. It is high time that GPS should put its foot down and tell the federal government once and for all and in no uncertain terms that they will vote down any religious Bills which infringes on the rights of the people of Sarawak to freely practice their religions.

Majority, if not all Sarawakians know that PM Ismail Sabri's government survival is in the hands GPS. It will collapse if GPS withdraws its support . If GPS still doesn't take this golden opportunity to make its demands to get back what rightfully belongs to Sarawak and also put an end to this religious issue, can we still trust them to represent and fight for the rights of Sarawak? With Wan Junaidi as Law Minister, we hope Sarawakians will not be disappointed and that they will not be thrown under the bus again.

Raymond Thong
Director of Political Affairs
Southern Zone
Parti Bumi Kenyalang

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