Jaya, Thursday): UMNO and PAS leaders must be reminded that in the escalation of the UMNO-PAS competition to
“out-Islam” each other, they should
not be insensitive or heedless of the 45-year “social contract” of the major
communities on attaining Independence on
the multi-religious character of Malaysia or the human rights of all Malaysians.
I have no intention of being drawn into
the battle-lines between UMNO and PAS over the remark by the PAS spiritual
leader (mursyidul am) and Kelantan Mentri Besar, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat
linking Allah to samseng, but certain aspects of the developing controversy
which impinge on the constitutional, legal
and human rights of Malaysians, Muslim as well as
non-Muslim, should not be allowed to be overlooked.
I refer firstly to
the statement by former Supreme Court judge Tan Sri Harun Hashim that Nik
Aziz could be charged under the Penal Code for insulting Allah, which was given
front-page headline treatment by Utusan Malaysia yesterday.
I am not concerned whether Harun is
right or not from the legal point of view, but whether it is right and proper
for a Commissioner of Suhakam, set up by Parliament with the
statutory duty to protect and promote human rights, to make a public
statement suggesting criminal
prosecution of any person – especially as a criminal prosecution though
strictly legal from the narrow interpretation of the law can still run afoul of
human rights and the rule of law!
Human Rights Commissioners should be pushing the frontiers of human
rights in Malaysia instead of encouraging the resort to
criminal laws like the Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act whose
enactment offend the very fundamentals of
human rights and whose use deny human rights and the universal values of justice
The Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib
Othman should give serious consideration to the formulation of a Code of Conduct
for Suhakam Commissioners so that they are exemplars as protectors and promoters
of human rights – and NGOs and the civil society should be consulted in the
drawing up of such a Code of Conduct for Suhakam Commissioners.
A point of reference in the formulation
of the Code of Conduct for Suhakam Commissioners is the unfortunate remark by
Harun at the recent Suhakam Inquiry into the Internal Security Act which clearly
prejudged the guilt of the detainees by focusing more on rehabilitation
than on the injustice and iniquity of
Secondly, I wish to refer to Nik Aziz’s defence in the Malaysiakini
yesterday, where he said that those who “declare that there must be separation
between religion and politics, and that Malaysia cannot be an Islamic state
because it is heterogeneous in composition'' were actually “insulting
This is an example where the UMNO-PAS competition to “out-Islam” each
other could overspill to prejudice and jeopardize the constitutional rights of
all Malaysians, Muslim and non-Muslim, to the extent that those who defend and
uphold the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963
Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an
Islamic state could be accused of “insulting Islam”.
DAP calls for the establishment of an inter-religious council represented by all the major religions in the country where issues which could impinge or affect the rights and sensitivities of all religious groups could be addressed to achieve and maintain a national inter-religious consensus on the fundamentals of Malaysian nation-building, based on the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.