G25 joins IRF and other civil society organisations to call on the Federal Government and State Governments to review all Syariah Acts and Enactments that are being used by the religious authorities to control public discussion on Islam and its application in the life of Muslims.
The restrictions on intellectual dialogues, public forums and banning of books are making Malaysians of all races concerned that Islam is being used in ways that are detrimental to the fundamental liberties guaranteed under the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
This will damage the country’s reputation for tolerance and moderation on matters of race and religion. It will also adversely affect public and investor confidence on the social and political stability of the country. G25 is concerned that if the religious authorities are empowered to impose their interpretation of Islam on Malaysians without any accountability for their actions, there will not be much prospect for Malaysia to progress as a modern democratic country.
The recent Government actions are against the pursuit of knowledge and education. Islam emphasises the importance of seeking knowledge. Intellectual discourse on Islam is especially necessary in the Islam of today where so many inhibitions, injustices and oppressions are done in the name of the religion.
There must be rational thought, deliberations and discussions taking place amongst scholars. Scholars and intellectuals must come together to discuss these issues and ensure that they are in fact aligned with Islamic teachings. These are the safeguards that are enshrined in Article 5 of the Federal Constitution on personal liberty and equality.
Our banned book, Breaking the Silence, was meant to promote moderation in Islam. The Foreward was written by former Prime Minister YAB Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and launched by YBM Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah, a leading UMNO and national figure.
Banning of books will have serious implications towards this important objective.
As we strive to be a developed nation, differences of opinion should be managed through open discourse and dialogues that can overcome misunderstandings and resolve conflicts. Education, the broadening of knowledge and mutual understanding, is the cornerstone of an individual and of a developed society.
There is an urgent need for the Government, civil society organisations, and the citizens to uphold the Rukun Negara, its principles and raison d’etre. We have worked too hard for the sake of this nation's peace, harmony, stability and progress to let it be destroyed by sinful acts of hypocrisy, intolerance, hatred and abuse.
We need to come together and find ways to move forward harmoniously and progressively together as a nation.
The Malaysian Insight