Friday, August 28, 2009

Indian National's Claim Prove NRD's Project

The protest of an Indian national against his arrest has proven that the National Registration Department has been involved in the illegal issuance of ICs (citizenship cards) to foreigners.

The Daily Express (26th August 2009) had reported that Mohamed Kani Majid, 43 an Indian national was arrested for being an illegal immigrant. Majid however protested, saying his arrest was illegal as he was issued an IC by the NRD along with about 100 Indians and Pakistanis in 1994. He claimed the project under which he and other South Asians obtained ICs was called IC Projek Pedalaman (Interior IC Project).

This is the third time the illegal issuance of ICs to foreigners have been admitted by the foreigners themselves. The first one was by Salman Majid, a Pakistani who had his dubious citizenship revoked after a business deal gone wrong with a local. The second was when two Filipinos in 2008 asked Sabahans to forget and forgive while flashing their illegally obtained ICs on the front page of the Daily Express. Majid's case is the third!

It is also a wonder that Majid obtained his IC through an interior IC project, when there are many indigenous folks from the interior who have yet to get their ICs.

The government better revoke the citizenship of all these dubious citizens. Or else more embarassing revelations will come to light. The NRD too needs a total overhaul.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fatwa Has No Legal Bearing On Non-Muslims

Some non-Muslim groups in Sabah are concerned that the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) has issued fatwas* which affect them. There is one fatwa which say that words like "Allah", "Nabi" and "Bait Allah" cannot be used by Christians. Then there is another fatwa which says that non-Muslims cannot put up statues in public places.

However what the concerned non-Muslim groups forgot was that a fatwa is only applicable to Muslims. Therefore the fatwa has no legal bearing on non-Muslims. Non-Muslims can continue using the word Allah as they please or build statues of their deities in public places. After all, freedom of religion is one of the most important conditions that facilitated the formation of Malaysia.

*religious edict

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banning Beer Sale?

An interesting development took place in the West Malaysian state of Selangor, where the state executive councillor (EXCO) Dato'Dr.Hassan Ali called for the resignation of another state EXCO, Ronnie Liu, as the latter had allegedly interfered in a raid on a 24-hour convenience store selling beer. It seemed that a local council had confiscated the beers and Ronnie had ordered them to return it to the store.

Dr.Hassan is calling for the ban on selling alcohol in Muslim majority areas. The North Borneo Herald agrees and disagrees with him. First, we agree that alcohol should not be sold to Muslims, and secondly we disagree with the term "Muslim-majority areas".

Though according to Islam it is an offence for Muslims to consume alcohol, the practise of drinking seems to be common among Muslims. This blog does not know the extent of beer-drinking among Muslims in West Malaysia, but there are Muslims drinking beer in Sabah.

Shopowners who sell beer should refrain from selling beer to Muslims. However in Sabah, it is sometimes difficult to tell a Muslim from a non-Muslim. With the ever increasing number of Sabahans, Sarawakians, Filipinos and Indonesians working and studying in West Malaysia, one wonders if retailers there can tell the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The best way would be to label the section where beer is kept as a Non-Halal Section as is the practice in some hypermarkets. Secondly, the cashier should ask the customer if he or she is a Muslim or non-Muslim when the person is purchasing beer. When the cashier is unsure, he or she can request for identification, since Muslims would have the word "Islam" printed on their MyKads.

This is much better than banning the sale of alcohol in so-called "Muslim-majority areas". Let's say if a convenience store in Muslim-majority Putatan does not sell beer. A Muslim could easily drive to Christian-majority Penampang and buy beer, which is just ten minutes away! Similarly if shops in Papar town do not sell beer, Muslims can take an eight minute drive to Christian-majority Limbahau and buy beer. And the same with Muslim-majority Membakut and Christian-majority Ulu Membakut, or Kudat and Matunggong, or Kota Belud-town and
Narinang! The list goes on and on.

And the if ever there is to be a ban, Muslims should also not be allowed to buy yeast, tajau (jars used to make rice wine) or any other materials which might be used to make alcoholic drinks*.

However when one sees the majority alcohol-consuming Muslim youths drinking cheap liquor, would it not be better for them to drink beer, which has less alcohol percentage and more expensive? The conclusion, is just refuse selling beer to Muslim patrons.

*the North Borneo Herald is concerned with the increasing consumption of home-made alcoholic brew ever since beer prices were increased by former premier Datuk Seri Abdullah A.Badawi

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Religion is Free in Sabah

Recently our Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn was quoted as saying that it is against the Federal Constitution to propagate non-Islamic religions to those professing the religion of Islam. He was referring to the case of 9 students at Putra University of Malaysia in Serdang, Selangor who were arrested for allegedly propagating Christianity to Muslim students (15th July 2009). In the end, it turned out that there was a misunderstanding and the nine were released.

Going back to what Hishamuddin had said, let us go back to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution. It says that state governments may enact laws to prevent the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims. Therefore it is only against the law when a state has such a law enacted. However some states have yet to enact such a law. Since Hishamuddin is a Federal minister, he should know that the Federal Territory itself has never enacted such a law.

However Article 11(4) cannot be applied in the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Therefore the governments of Sabah and Sarawak cannot enact a law to prevent the propagation of religions other than Islam to Muslims. This is because it is clearly stated in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 that Article 11(4) cannot be applied in the two states.

Hence, non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak are free to propagate their religions to Muslims. But, out of respect for Muslim sensitivities, there has never been attempts by non-Muslim religious organizations to spread their religions to Muslims or Muslim communities.

But since the Malaysia Agreement has expressly stated that Article 11(4) does not apply to Sabah and Sarawak, Muslims in these two states should be given the free choice to leave Islam if they want to. This should not be made an issue.

Conversions from Islam to Christianity and Christianity to Islam are common in Sabah. Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman himself had said on numerous occassions that Sabahans enjoy the spirit of "live and let live".

Therefore attempts by certain NGOs to have Article 11(4) applied to Sabah are uncalled for. Similarly, the practice of the National Registration Department (NRD) in making life difficult for those converting from Islam to other faiths is a mockery of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963.

To all Sabahans, please know your rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement! The Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1995 which makes converting out of Islam an offence can be challenged in court by citing the Malaysia Agreement.