Malaysia

Christian leaders want PM to act against Utusan

By Debra Chong
May 09, 2011
Latest Update: May 10, 2011 01:40 am

Najib was urged to act on Utusan Malaysia’s “dangerous lies”. — file picNajib was urged to act on Utusan Malaysia’s “dangerous lies”. — file picGEORGE TOWN, May 9 — The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) said today it is “aggrieved” that Utusan Malaysia has been allowed to publish and spread what it called “dangerous lies” that have stirred religious unrest, and wants the prime minister to take immediate action against the Umno-owned paper.

In a joint statement with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, the Christian umbrella body, representing over 90 per cent of churches in the country, said they were concerned that the Malay-language daily has been “spreading dangerous lies that make Christians the object of hate and incite hatred against Christians that may lead to undesirable consequences”.

“We sincerely and strongly urge the prime minister and the home minister to take action against Utusan Malaysia for printing and spreading such dangerous lies that have disturbed the multi-religious harmony of society, created fear and uneasiness amongst Malaysians, especially Christians,” it said.

The CFM, which counts the Roman Catholic Church, the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) and the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) in its membership, said Christian pastors and churches have always prayed for the nation’s peace, unity and harmony among all races as well as a leadership that is honest and just.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, also denied that he and his party had asked the clerics to pray for divine intervention or to form a Christian state and have a Christian become prime minister.

Lim said as chief minister he will continue to meet with Christian leaders, bishops or pastors just as he has been meeting with Muslim clerics, Buddhist or Hindu monks.

Utusan carried a front-page article on Saturday claiming the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the country’s official religion.

The report, based on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers, had charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.

The NECF, together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies, and has refuted the bloggers’ allegations.

Similarly, DAP leaders have denied the report and have accused Utusan of lying and have lodged police reports over the matter.

But the newspaper has continued pushing its unsubstantiated racial and religious rhetoric despite the explanations.

“Now there are attempts by some quarters to anger the majority of this country... the suggestion for Christianity to be made an official religion of the country as well as a Christian prime minister from that religious group cannot be accepted,” Utusan said in an editorial today.

The editorial insisted that Islam is the official religion of the country under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, and that other races had no choice but to accept this as a fact.

“For over 50 years since our country achieved its independence, what is in our minds is that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia... this cannot be changed without amendments on the parliamentary level and sanctioned by the Conference of Rulers. We believe this is unlikely to happen,” the editorial said.

But Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution only states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

Likewise, Article 43(2)(a) of the constitution states “the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint as Perdana Menteri (Prime Minister) to preside over the Cabinet a member of the House of Representatives who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of that House”.