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Desecrating a holy place violates the constitution

Dear Ahmad Zaki Arshad, deputy director, Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais)

I refer to the recent raid by Jais on the pretext of conducting routine checks due to the case of a ‘Muslim’ woman marrying a Hindu man, and also to an article which appeared in The Star newspaper dated June 4, 2014 claiming that Jais is probing bride’s case according to their deputy director, Ahmad Zaki Arshad.

Why did the officials insist on waiting till the last hour to ambush the poor bride and her family members if they claim to stop apostasy by acting on the tip-off from an informer? They could have send officials to stop the wedding way before the ceremony takes its course in the temple. By barging in with the help of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) doesn’t reflect well on Jais officials showing any respect to the faith of other minority groups in Malaysia at large.

Is this their standard modus operandi ordered by their director? Another fine example is the Malay version of the Bible, Al Kitab confiscation earlier at the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) premises.

I would think it would be better for these officials to attend some refresher course on the federal constitution of Malaysia instead of just attending the BN government-initiated Biro Tata Negara (BTN) and religious courses! It’s a direct violation of the federal constitution which is the supreme law in Malaysia.

Clearly the federal constitution of Malaysia, Article 3 states ;

1) Though Islam is the religion of the Federation, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

2) In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorise the Yand di-Pertuan Agong to represent him.

3) The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong shall be Head of the religion of Islam in that State.

4) Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.

5) Notwithstanding anything in this Consitution the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federation Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan; and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions for regulating Islamic religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advice the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam.

The Jais deputy director ought to know the significance of the Article 3 in the federal constitution of Malaysia with regard to the nonsensical statement given by him to the press mentioned above.

This act clearly violates the sanctity of places of worships even though the person involved is technically a Muslim (?) and there could be proper ways to handle without offending the Hindus who patronise the temple.

I am certain that the supposedly Muslim bride must have tried in vain to make things right way before the marriage was scheduled and was in desperation due to the failure of the National Registration Department (NRD) officials to heed her request.

Therefore, she is said to have proceeded to make the arrangement for the wedding which is one of the most memorable events in her life as a practising Hindu only to be ruined by these distasteful acts of these officials. As the saying goes, marriages are made in heaven but in this fracas, the word 'heaven' itself is blasphemy in her case because technically, on paper, she is a Muslim.

Therefore, I strongly feel as a senior member of Jais’ management, in carrying out so-called “routine checks” like this, Ahmad Zaki Arshad and his team have been downright insensitive and demeaning to non-Muslims in this country and he should apologise for his enforcement officers raiding the temple.

An inquiry should be held to find what went wrong and to prevent future re-occurrence of similar embarrassing headline news, putting our multi-racial country in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

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