Updated 5:35pm, 12 Feb 2010
“There is no reason to be afraid of ideas like [having an interfaith body].”
DATUK Seri Rais Yatim, speaking as then culture, arts and heritage minister, when opening a 2005 national conference on establishing an interfaith commission. Rais encouraged everyone to listen to the proposals with an open mind and not to prejudge the discussion.
However, the government subsequently dismissed the proposal following protests from some Muslim groups. (Source: Give interfaith talks a chance, says Rais, Malaysiakini, 24 Feb 2005)
“It was said that Malaysia would have achieved Islamic state status if not for the interference of the colonial masters and the arrival of non-Muslims. Are we now witnessing the regression of our country into a secular state with Islam as a mere ornament?”
Datuk Mustapha Ma, Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (Accin) chairperson, calling for the government to scuttle the interfaith commission idea. (Source: Accin’s statement to the government, 25 Jan 2005)
“I don’t know why this group of people have to carry out activities related to [the interfaith commission]. It is creating unnecessary problems. The government will, in the near future, make an announcement on the Inter-Faith Commission.”
After chairing an Umno supreme council meeting, former party president and Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for all activities related to the forming of an interfaith commission to cease immediately. Although the government had originally supported the proposal for such a commission, Abdullah said the cabinet decided to postpone it because religious tension in the country had reached a worrying level. (Source: Abdullah: Stop activities on inter-faith issue, New Straits Times, 26 Jul 2006)
“Do not force the government to take action.”
Abdullah, warning the Article 11 coalition, which had held a forum to discuss constitutional issues on the right to freedom of religion. Abdullah said those causing tension in society by organising activities on religious issues should cease their activities. (Source: PM: Stop debate on religious issues, The Star, 28 July 2006)
“It is important that various races in the country hold friendly discussions by delving into Islamic, Christian, Hindu and other religions’ views. We are not converting to other religions but to understand one another’s religious cultures better. That is important.
“I feel that the discussion and understanding of one another’s cultures and religions can enhance harmony. Otherwise, we will continue to live in distrust and prejudice of one another.”
Now Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais, discussing the government’s proposed interfaith dialogue to resolve inter-religious issues such as the recent “Allah” controversy. (Source: Rais: Interfaith dialogue must strive for harmony, The Edge, 19 Jan 2010)
“Malays will see no reason to dialogue as they see themselves as having given up enough already and suspicions will arise that Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon is reviving the Interfaith Council idea. This will not stop the violence. In fact, it may make it worse.”
Umno Youth member Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, in a post on his blog. The son of former Agriculture Minister and Kedah Menteri Besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid said having an interfaith dialogue now would just inflame matters.
He also criticised the government’s donation of RM500,000 to the Metro Tabernacle church after the arson attack on it. He said this would lead to accusations that the government was treating other religions on par with Islam, which he said was the “only religion acknowledged by the constitution”. (Source: Umno Youth member questions Najib’s RM500k donation, The Edge, 11 Jan 2010)
“We don’t need an inter-faith commission. At the moment we don’t feel that it is something necessary. But continuous dialogues among various religious groups — representing Muslim and non-Muslims — could be useful.”
(Updated 5:50pm, 12 Feb 2010) Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, dismissing suggestions for the government to set up an interfaith commission. He said that ongoing closed door dialogues between religious groups were sufficient for the time being to address related issues. (Source: No Plan For Inter-Faith Commission – Muhyiddin, Bernama, 30 Jan 2010)
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