“The committee is not a legal structure; it’s not a rigid structure. It’s a framework to provide exchange of ideas on religion.
“We don’t want to call it an inter-faith panel, but a special committee to promote understanding and harmony among the various faiths.
“The idea of the committee is for the members to hold informal dialogues, not on only one issue, but also matters such as inter-marriages, religious conversions as well as custody of children.
“The committee will exchange their views and we will get feedback and get a better understanding on religious issues.”
MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, on the interfaith committee that was approved by the cabinet of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. (Source: Govt agrees to interfaith committee, The Star, 6 Apr 2010)
“We will carry out an in-depth study especially when it involves the position of Islam, this is a very sensitive matter … What we encourage is interfaith dialogues but not necessarily in the form of a commission and so forth.”
Najib, then deputy prime minister, on his reservations regarding the formation of an interfaith commission. The Bar Council-proposed Interfaith Commission (IFC) was eventually “postponed” after vehement protests by Islamic groups and political parties. (Source: Islam is a sensitive matter, warns Najib, Malaysiakini, 25 Feb 2005)
“Saya tidak bersetuju dengan cadangan itu (menubuhkan IFC) kerana perlembagaan negara ini telah menetapkan bahawa Islam adalah agama rasmi. Kalau IFC ditubuhkan bererti Islam pun sudah pasti akan turut berada di bawah suruhanjaya itu, bagaimana ni?”
Then de facto Minister of Religion Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin, opposing the IFC because he claimed it would have been “unconstitutional”, and that Islam would be “subjugated”. (Source: IFC: Dua kenyataan berbeza pemimpin Islam hadhari, Harakah as published on the Federal Territory PAS Youth blog, 25 Feb 2005)
“It is just an avenue to allow space for better understanding between religions in the country … They are just small fry, [with] a small role played within the Prime Minister’s Department.”
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, adding that Najib’s current interfaith committee was not a threat to Malaysian Muslims since it is legally toothless. (Source: DPM: Interfaith panel just a “small fry”, Malaysiakini, 12 Apr 2010)
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