Friday, August 12, 2011

Selangor Government must provide a closure to the issues arising from JAIS action on 3rd August

3rd August 2011

The raid occurred Wednesday night during a dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya, just west of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

NONEAround 30 Islamic religious and police officials entered the church compound in Selangor state without a warrant and began taking videos and photographs, Daniel Ho, senior pastor for the church, said in a statement.

They subjected guests to "undue harassment" and took down the details of the Muslims present before leaving, he said. - Malaysiakini, 4/8/2011, Jais raid 'a dangerous precedent', says CCM

The issue is respect - it was wrong to trespass into a private event...and disrupt it. Would it have happened if the PM or some Minister, or some BN politician was its patron...or an invited guest... or if it was organized by some BN or BN-linked organization?  If there was evidence of laws being broken, then certainly investigate, and if there is sufficient proof - then only arrest or do the needful. Do not simply act on the basis of police reports - or information received from un-named sources... They could have quitely met with the organizer and get details of attendees to the function  or even wait until the event end and get details when people leave... but certainly not do what was done...(but reports are vague, and we still do not know exactly what happened..)

The issue is freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, ... are we heading towards a situation that soon people also need to apply for JAIS permission if they are organizing events where Muslims may attend/participate...and then JAIS will decide also the content of speeches, materials disseminated, etc - be careful for are we not trying to be ONE mulit-religious multi-ethnic Malaysia - not a Malaysia divided into a Muslim Malaysia and a non-Muslim Malaysia.

JAIS -  they should have no authority in policing non-Muslims - or non-Muslim organized events. That should be left to the police...

Discrimination - why take down only the details of Muslim guests - and not others. Would not the others present also be credible witnesses for what had transpired in that event. Or is this just another anti - 1Malaysia action by the BN government and/or their stooges - to scare Muslims in Malaysia from attending or being part of any event, function ... organized in a non-Muslim premise, or religious compound...or by persons who are non-Muslims. Would it also not scare Muslims from attending weddings or funerals or their non- Muslim friends - why the JAIS may come and harass us...

Selangor Menteri Besar - his immediate reaction was disappointing... that 'gag-order'. Let us not forget that JAIS comes under the State government. He should have expressed immediate anger at the actions of JAIS (and police) disrupting a private event and tell them that this is not the way one does things in Selangor - where we do respect persons of other faiths/beliefs and will not just go charging into their compound disrupting events being organised - and hassling their guests. With regard to further action, he could say that he will wait for that JAIS report..but it has almost been 9 days. The Menteri Besar is akin the CEO of the State, and if he is responsible for the actions of all State authorities, departments and bodies... and if one of them does something disrespectfully - he must scold them... Set up an Commission of Inquiry - to independently investigate matters - not just wait for the JAIS report. Meet the organisers, the owners of venue, .... After receiving the report, he must first discuss with his Exco - then he could also meet with the Sultan...

The poor response of the MB may be because of other considerations - i.e. the upcoming elections and he did not want to seen as being anti-Islam, which may arise if he was strong against JAIS. Can we accept this? Hello, Muslims in Selangor and Malaysia are not so 'shallow' - they do not equate being anti one JAIS action as being anti- Muslims. A PAS or DAP MB would have done the right thing but PKR worries too much and that delay in taking the right action....worrying always the consequence it will have come next elections is making matters worse. The same was with the 'Allah' issue - PAS was clear that Muslims do not have the exclusive right to call God 'Allah' - and here again PKR speakers were vague about this, citing reasons like they are not religious scholars, etc...In fact, I recall that even for that accident in Jaya Supermarket which saw many workers die - I have yet to see any detailed report from the Selangor government and/or the relevant local council..I wonder whether the victims or their families were even compensated?

Remember your position on right and wrongs is not depended on what the majority says is right and wrong. If this was the way how leaders behave, we will still be having a lot of injustices. Slavery would still be there fact, we may not even be having democracy, women's rights, workers' rights, orang asli rights, etc...

For a long time, people accepted the ISA and Detention Without Trials as necessary and OK - but finally, the mindset of Malaysians have changed and today the majority is for its abolition - and it was because there were 'leaders' who took the lead in condemning such laws and asking for its repeal. Do not be scared to take a stand for what is right and against what is wrong.

This JAIS action has done a lot of harm to our struggle for unity and respect - and many narrowly see the JAIS action, as being a Muslim action which is not, and the Selangor MB's reaction thus far also does not help matters. The issue is still 'festering' and the Selangor MB and State Government's delay in taking a clear position only makes things worse - and some quarters are making this into a Muslim -versus- non-Muslim issue. In fact, there seems to be some quarters are starting to lose faith in the Selangor government - and, it may be worthy to note that even the MCCBCHS is calling for the Federal Government, not the Selangor government, to intervene - Selangor PR Government must act firmly - reprimand where necessary, clarify where required (did the 'raid' happen during the event or did it happen after the event was over???), apologize if required, and propose changes in law/policy and guidelines to prevent future such actions by the SELANGOR JAIS..

Good to see what Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC)(the owner of the venue), Harapan Community (the organizer of the event), JAIS, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (ACCIN), UMNO Youth, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) - see below

Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has issued a gag order to all state exco members from commenting on the issue of Jais' raid on Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on Wednesday until they have received the Jais report and “further action” has been taken.

NONE“Once I receive Jais' report on the matter I will meet with the Selangor Sultan to discuss and resolve the matter, and to ensure that such incidents do not recur,” said Khalid (left) in a statement today.

“Until this is done and the matter is resolved, all Selangor exco members are prohibited from making any statements regarding this issue,” he added.

“As mentioned yesterday, we regret that the incident has taken place and is confident that the people of Selangor do not feel that their interests have been overlooked,” said Khalid.

The MB added that good intentions did not justify the raid, that he said “failed to display fairness and wisdom in leadership”.

He called on the people to perpetuate the spirit of harmony, respect and tolerance amongst the various religions in the country. - Malaysiakini, 5/8/2011, MB Khalid issues gag order on church raid
Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) slammed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) for carrying out a raid on their premises on Aug 3 “without proper authority under the law”.

NONE“We reiterate the fact that Jais and police officers came into Dream Centre without a search warrant,” said senior pastor Daniel Ho in a statement today.

“They intruded into the thanksgiving dinner and interrupted the programme. They took photographs and videos when they came in,” he said, adding the officers continued recording and photographing even after exiting the hall.

“The Jais officers issued several stern warnings to the organisers for refusing to cooperate with their demands.

“In the meantime, many plainclothes personnel rode into the Dream Centre compound with motorbikes and some of them went around the compound,” said Ho.
DUMC's statement comes after a week of silence on the raid since 20 to 30 Jais officers raided the DUMC premises without a warrant last Wednesday.

The pastor however remained silent on allegations that the church had been proselytising Muslims.
“We respectfully submit that this trespass, search and seizure by Jais and police actions were without proper authority under the law,” said Ho.

NONEYesterday Jais issued its first official statement on the matter denying that they had “raided” DUMC and stressed that no force was used.

"No force was used by Jais enforcement officers on that night...only after the event attended by 100 attendees was over, did the inspection take place inside the hall," said Jais director Marzuki Hussin (right).

"Reports that Jais conducted a raid, used force and gate-crashed the dinner are all wild accusations," said Marzuki.

Last week Ho had blasted the authorities for trespassing on a HIV/AIDs benefit dinner by non-profit organisation Harapan Komuniti held at DUMC's hall, without producing a warrant or the alleged complaint that Jais said their visit was based on.

Incidentally the same venue also hosted an electoral reform forum organised by the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), featuring Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan and Election Commission deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar. - Malaysiakini, 12/8/2011, Church: Jais acted 'without proper authority'

Umno Youth has today called on the Selangor government to provide a detailed explanation on what transpired when the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church last week.

NONEIts chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (right) said the movement was unhappy with the Selangor Pakatan government, which was seen as weak in handling the matter.

"Initially, they are seen to be avoiding or claiming responsibility, saying it (Jais) comes under the purview of the ruler. They also made allegations of a federal government conspiracy in such an action, although such claims were unsubstantiated.

"Such perception changed when the menteri besar said the state government should bear the responsibility and answer for its actions. Following this, I urge MB Khalid Ibrahim not to delay in explaining or trying to hide the matter any further. If he cannot explain, it is better he resigns," Khairy said in a statement.

It is frustrating, Khairy noted, that the Selangor government has attempted to delay or was trying to hide the issue from public domain, with no follow-up action.

NONEThe Umno Youth chief said for the movement, such a tactic was truly irresponsible because it involved an issue sensitive to both the Muslim and Christian communities, which were watching the matter closely.

Besides the Selangor MB's realisation of this being a sensitive issue, he had chosen to delay and was hiding the matter behind a veil.

"He should himself quickly probe the matter and take the proper action," Khairy said. - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Come clean on church raid or quit, Khairy tells MB

We, from the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) read the news regarding the proposed Faith Crime Act by the deputy education minister yesterday with trepidation.

The proposal came about as a response to Jais' unwarranted raid of Damansara Utama Methodist Church last week.

The raid conducted by Jais was purely based on suspicion that the Methodist Church was involved in an act of proselytisation. The Malaysian Aids Council however reiterated that the dinner was actually a fund-raiser for HIV/AIDS support programmes.

The whole issue boils down to one main issue. The so-called defenders of the faith believed that their action was espoused by the religion of Islam in preventing the believers from apostasy.

This uncivilised act of storming into a sacred place accompanied by the Mafia-like police was endorsed by none others than the insular and xenophobic NGOs like Perkasa and Pembela.

We believe that such an act of storming into a church without any warrant and based on mere suspicion was a travesty of justice and democratic principles. Freedom of assembly is enshrined in Article 10 of our constitution. Any act that violates this freedom is reprehensible.

We realise that this conflict stems from the static and stagnant approach to understanding Islamic law. The codified law in Islamic jurisprudence derived through the exercise of juristic reasoning of the latter years was considered sacred and beyond reproach. Hence the most rigid and literalist interpretations tend to prevail.

The defenders of faith failed to look at ample evidence in the Quran that gives the liberty to the people to freely follow their conviction.

Any individuals are given the right to accept or reject a particular faith based on his personal conviction.

"There shall be no coercion in matters of faith" [Qur'an, 2:256]

“And [thus it is] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldst compel people to believe” [Qur'an, 10:99]

This message of freedom of belief and the call to religious tolerance is reiterated time and time again in the Quran and through various Prophets. This has been the call of all the Prophets even before Prophet Muhammad. Refer the Quran [7:85-87, 39:39-40, 17:84].

Faith is a personal conviction. The state has no authority to interfere in one's choice of faith. One is answerable to God for the decision he or she makes in her life. Hitherto it is very perturbing that a lawmaker proposed for Faith Crime Act to be enacted by the government.

This act infringes on God given right for us to believe on our free will. No one has the authority to take this right from us. We are answerable to God alone in the life to come. We must ensure that our community embraces this freedom of religion and we will not succumb to any threat to remove this freedom away from us.

The principle of reciprocity is to be upheld since it gives a meaning to the concept of justice. In a modern multiracial society like us, where different faiths lives together, we have to respect the right of an individual to choose and convert to a faith that he or she believes in.

There should not be undue pressure or coercion for a person to believe in a faith he or she has no belief anymore. It would be a real tragedy and disaster when a state started imposing its authority in matters of faith.

The writer is chairman and director of Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF). - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Raid by Jais an 'uncivilised' act 

Harapan Komuniti has broken its silence on the multi-racial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, which has become the centre of controversy after a raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) last week.
harapan komuniti hiv aidsIn a statement today, executive director Raymond Koh said the 'thanksgiving' dinner was attended by "donors, friends and beneficiaries of Harapan Komuniti" before it was raided by 30 Jais and police officers.

“They proceeded into the hall and took photos and videos and even removed pamphlets from the various drawers and cabinets in the said hall, without any permission from us or the landlord of DUMC's premises.
He described the non-profit group as one that works with the poor and "downtrodden" and people living with HIV/AIDS.
This is the full statement:

Harapan Komuniti is a non-profit organisation, working to bring love, hope, peace and dignity to the needy, downtrodden, children, women and people living with HIV and AIDS. We help people, regardless of race, religion or creed.

Harapan Komuniti is a partner organisation of Malaysian AIDS Council.

On Aug 3, Harapan Komuniti held a thanksgiving/fundraising dinner at DUMC's (Damansara Utama Methodist Church) premises. That dinner was attended by donors, friends and beneficiaries of Harapan Komuniti.

About 120 people, from various backgrounds, attended the dinner and were treated with a meal catered by Muslims, followed by live performance, a 1Malaysia dance, a quiz, and reporting by individuals. Harapan Komuniti also offered a general prayer.

Around 9.30pm, about 30 officers from Jais (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) and the police, some were in uniforms and others in plainclothes came into the said premise without any search warrant or permission.

Harapan Komuniti immediately requested the Jais officers if they had any warrant and despite repeated requests, Jais officers refused to hand to us any warrant to search or arrest.

They proceeded into the hall and took photos and videos and even removed pamphlets from the various drawers and cabinets in the said hall, without any permission from us or the landlord of DUMC's premises.

Harapan Komuniti's lawyer Annou Xavier stated that Malaysia should be fortunate to have non-profit organisations such as Harapan Komuniti that gives 'Harapan' or hope to the needy, afflicted, poor, marginalised and yet, on that fateful night, Jais decided to take the opportunity to raid the thanksgiving charity dinner on the assumption that conversion of religion was taking place.

Harapan Komuniti has helped many needy and downtrodden citizens of Malaysia, without regard to race, religion, creed, yet Jais took it upon themselves to disrupt a peaceful and harmonious charity event.

Annou further states that Harapan Komuniti is a '1Malaysia' organisation in its pure sense, in that its board members consist of a Malay, Mohd Rahim Ithnen, a Chinese, Raymond Koh and an Indian, Sri Ram KS Gopal to help all races, religion and creed, and not some parties that simply chant '1Malaysia' merely as a slogan.

He hopes that such an unwarranted raid would not take place in the future that would cause unnecessary anxiety and trauma to peace-loving Malaysians.

Raymond Koh
Executive director
Harapan Komuniti - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Harapan Komuniti breaks silence on Jais raid

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is calling on the federal government to intervene in last Wednesday's Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid on a church compound.
"Jais' action sets a dangerous precedent which must be stopped and condemned by all peace-loving Malaysians.

"The constitutionally guaranteed and internationally recognised sanctity of all places of worship cannot be compromised, and this unprecedented violation must be investigated and those responsible, appropriately punished.

azlan"We urge the federal government to expeditiously launch a thorough investigation into the fiasco," said its honorary secretary-general Prematilaka KD Serisena.

The raid was carried out based on a tip-off that the dinner organised by Harapan Komuniti at a building owned by the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) had allegedly attempted to proselytise among Muslims present.

The interfaith council is peeved by news reports quoting unnamed Muslims at the event, claiming that they had been asked to convert from Islam, one of many claims that have cropped up since the raid including accusations of distributing Malay-language Bibles to Muslims during the event.

"Such witnesses must be made available to an independent inquiry, which must be instituted immediately, to determine their qualification to bear such witness, to corroborate such evidence and to verify it.

"lf the newspapers in question are found to have published false statements likely, or meant, to incite religious or racial hatred between Malaysians, the authorities must initiate the necessary action to punish them to the full extent provided for in our laws," he said.

The council also called on the government to assure non-Muslim communities that there will not be a repeat of the incident.

'Discuss issue at working committee'

Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after the council's statement, the Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (ACCIN) reminded its counterpart MCCBCHST to refrain from making statements on interfaith matters and instead to discuss them at the governement's interfaith working committee.

"Since the Working Committee Promoting Understanding and Harmony Between Adherents of various Religions (JKMPKAPA) was established under the cabinet, ACCIN and its members have not made any statements on interfaith matters out of respect for the committee's consensus.

"ACCIN would like to remind the MCCBCHST to respect the committee in future," said the coalition chairperson Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir.

The Muslim coalition also called on parties to respect religious sensitivities and to cease all proselytisation activities among Muslims.

"This is consistent with the spirit of interfaith relations and the provisions of the constitution where Islam is the official religion. Other religions can be practiced so long as they respect the official religion and the sensitivities of its followers," he added. - Malaysiakini, 9/8/2011, Jais raid: Federal gov't should intervene, says council

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