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Prove You're Sincere, Faith Council Tells PM


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Prove you’re sincere, faith council tells PM
Tarani Palani

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak must unequivocally distance himself from Perkasa leader Ibrahim Ali to prove that he was sincere in his recent call for moderation in religion, the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said today.

Other members of Najib’s administration must do the same, said the council’s president, Thomas Philips, in response to the Prime Minister’s speech at Oxford University this week and to Ibrahim’s call for a jihad against Malaysian Christians.

“In all religions, not just Islam, there should be moderation,” he said. “Najib should also address the question in Malaysia and carry his message here and not only speak of it on an international stage.”

In his speech at Oxford, Najib said: “In Malaysia, Islam is synonymous with moderation, inclusiveness and good governance.”

He also said: “There is no such thing as a liberal Islam or an extremist Islam, a conservative Islam or an enlightened Islam, a jihadist Islam or an appeasing Islam, a modern Islam or a mediaeval Islam. There is only Islam, a complete way of life. Being moderate cannot in any way be equated to (being) a wimp, unprincipled, weak or appeasing.”

Many observers have noted that this call for moderation sounds insincere considering Putrajaya’s reluctance to come down hard against Ibrahim for his strident remarks against the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for articles generally considered inflammatory.

Speaking to FMT, Philips said national leaders, especially from Barisan Nasional, should make statements to distance themselves from Ibrahim’s “highly provocative” call for a jihad.

“We want statements from national leaders. We want to know their stand on the matter. Say something to distance themselves so the minority would be reassured. Otherwise, they would be highly sceptical of the government.”

Invitation to talks
Ibrahim accused Christians of questioning Islam’s position as Malaysia’s official religion.

This accusation was based on the Utusan Malaysia report claiming that the DAP-controlled government in Penang, together with Christian leaders, had a meeting to conspire to replace Islam as the official religion and to install a Christian prime minister. The report was based on two blog postings. DAP and Christian leaders have said there was no such conspiracy.

Yesterday, one of the persons who attended the Penang meeting, Transparency International Malaysia president Paul Low, said no such pact was made.

Philips also responded to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz’s comment that statements like Ibrahim’s were now becoming a “norm” in Malaysia.

Nazri had told Malaysiakini that the government would not act against Ibrahim because it was difficult to do so in the age of social media. He said Malaysians would have to be “mature” and “live with” such statements.
Philips said he agreed with Nazri about social media carrying “harsh criticism” on many issues, but said “mature leaders” must nevertheless manage these comments.

He invited the Perkasa chief to meet with Christian leaders to discuss his fears about a Christian takeover of the country, saying that would be more constructive than making provocative statements.




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