Malaysiakini NEWS

Gross governmental failure over religious issues

Tommy Thomas  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT Last week's raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), a government agency, on the office of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) must be condemned in the strongest terms by all right thinking people.

Apart from being unconstitutional and in violation of the rule of law, it represents the worst kind of behaviour by government bureaucrats flexing their awesome powers over minorities. Occurring in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society compounds the problem.

Twentieth century history across the globe is replete with examples where the safety of minorities is threatened by a majority abusing coercive state power; Nazi Germany being the most extreme.

Post-colonial developments since 1950 in Burma, British Guyana, Uganda, Fiji and Sri Lanka have illustrated the consequences of harsh treatment of minorities and the resultant irrevocable damage to the entire nation state when governments controlled by majorities abuse their power.

In other words, any historian will warn a plural society that it is a tinderbox insofar as ethnic and religious matters are concerned, and such issues must therefore be handled carefully, delicately and with sensitivity to minorities. One therefore cannot over-emphasise the responsibility of leaders to ensure fairness in such matters.

Since Jais has purported to rely on a law passed by the Legislative Assembly of Selangor, I shall consider whether that law authorises its actions...

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