Teresa Kok: Federal Constitution is enough, new law to regulate non-Muslim religions not needed

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Teresa Kok said current provisions in the constitution already cover what the proposed bill will do. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Teresa Kok said current provisions in the constitution already cover what the proposed bill will do. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Putrajaya does not have to enact a new law to regulate the propagation of non-Muslim religions because the existing provisions in the Federal Constitution provides sufficient coverage, DAP lawmaker Teresa Kok said today.

The Seputeh MP cited Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution as prohibiting the propagation of non-Islamic religions to Muslims.

She pointed out that as the supreme law, the provisions in the constitution covers the whole country and as such there was no need to create new laws for the Federal Territories or other states that do not have yet have specific enactments addressing these.

“The Federal Constitution is clear to all, and Idris Ahmad does not have to create such laws in Federal Territories as this would cause unnecessary suspicion and anxiety between Muslims and non-Muslims,” she said in a statement, responding to yesterday’s explanation from minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Datuk Idris Ahmad, following public outcry over its proposed Bill.

Kok suggested that Idris “do his best” as a minister to encourage people of different faiths to help each other, particularly the poor and marginalised throughout the country, including Federal Territories.

“He should instead project the teaching of kindness and charity in Islam to all Malaysians,” she added.

Kok pointed out that many places of worship have been closed or restricted entry to only a limited number of regular worshippers since the Covid-19 pandemic and the multiple lockdowns since March last year.

She added that Malaysians were also struggling to survive as the pandemic continues to eat away at their livelihoods and savings.

“This is one of the important matters that should be dealt with, wisely,” she said.

Controversy over the proposed Bill emerged after Idris’ deputy Datuk Ahmad Marzuki Shaary shared that the government was drafting four new Shariah laws for tabling in the coming Parliament session. One of them is the Bill to control and restrict the development of non-Muslim religions.

Yesterday, Idris attempted to defuse tensions, claiming the issue had been misinterpreted as the proposed Bill was only to prevent the propagation of non-Muslim beliefs to Muslims and would only apply to the Federal Territories—Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya.

He also said the Bill was not new as 10 states in the country had similar enactments since the 1980s, and only three states—Penang, Sabah and Sarawak—did not.

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