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Category Archives: Southeast Asia
ISLAMIC POLICE INVADES THE DREAM CENTER METHODIST CHURCH IN PETALING JAYA – MALAYSIA
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian authorities appear to have little respect for places of worship, an interfaith council said.
Reverend Thomas Philips, head of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), who said this, condemned a raid on a church last night.
“It is a total disregard for respect. Whoever initiated the raid should have known better. You can’t just simply go inside a church and create problems,” he said.
More than 30 police and Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) officers, several in plainclothes, raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Section 13.
Harapan Komuniti, an NGO, was hosting an annual thanksgiving dinner for about 100 people, including 15 Malays at the Dream Centre building which houses the church.
Acting without a warrant, the government officials gate-crashed the event at around 10pm, seizing programme sheets and questioning dinner guests.
Philips said that any sort of raid or investigation into a house of worship needed to be coordinated alongside local religious leaders.
“What if they (the authorities) interrupted a wedding (ceremony) or another religious activity?” he asked, adding that such an act would certainly result in a public backlash.
He added that the least government officials could have done was to get clearance before conducting the raid.
In a statement, DUMC senior pastor Daniel Ho said that the church was “highly disappointed” with the authorities, who entered without a warrant.
“They have subjected all the guests at the thanksgiving dinner to undue harassment.”
Both JAIS and the police, he added, upon entering the church premises, started to take videos and photographs.
“When asked why they were there, JAIS officers replied that they received a complaint, the nature of which they could not disclose, neither could provide a copy of the complaint,” said Ho.
He said the officers proceeded to take down the details of the Muslims present before leaving the premises.
He also revealed that Harapan Komuniti was hosting a “celebratory gathering” of people involved with the NGO’s activities.
He said that the gathering was to celebrate the NGO’s work in various community projects, involving HIV/AIDS and natural disasters.
Sultan should interfere
Christian Federation of Malaysia chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing said his federation was “deeply shocked” and “appalled” by the raid.
The federation urged the Sultan of Selangor to intervene and conduct a thorough investigation on the matter.
Calling the actions of the state religious enforcement authority “high-handed and repugnant”, Ng also questioned the legality of the raid and the subsequent interrogation and harassment of the dinner guests.
“Christians are shocked and saddened at this deplorable action,” he said.
“This arbitrary action of the JAIS and the police officers is an affront to the values of mutual respect and harmony which should be accorded to every person, regardless of religious, cultural or ethnic background in Malaysia.”
Ng said there has been an increase in cases where Christians have been singled out and targeted with unjustified accusations and prejudice from various groups as well as certain mainstream media which have made inflammatory statements against the spirit of 1Malaysia.
State government, PAS should take responsibility
MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek said the state executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs, PAS’ Hassan Ali, must explain the “uncalled for and disrespectful” raid.
Stating that JAIS should apologise for its rude intervention, Chua added that even if there were suspicions or complaints, the JAIS enforcement officers should have waited until the event was over.
“In no uncertain terms should the officers gatecrash a function which was held within the confines of the church ground.
“The incident serves as a reminder to non-Muslims, including the church, that PAS is not as liberal as it claims to be,” he said in a statement. He also hit out at PAS for imposing its religious will on others.
Meanwhile, MCA vice-president Senator Gan Ping Sieu demanded an explanation and apology from the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government over the JAIS raid.
“For state enforcement officials to disrupt a dinner held to promote unity, question the multi-racial participants and seize the programme booklet, is an outrageous conduct and is against pluralism practices and the concept of unity,” he said in a statement.
Gan said it was all the more shameful as it took place during the holy month of Ramadan.
“All along, the Pakatan Rakyat has made a mockery of Barisan Nasional’s 1Malaysia concept but last night’s raid again brought to the fore the coalition’s narrow-mindedness and parochial inclinations,” he said.
He questioned why Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok, who is a Christian, have remained silent.
Gan said the latest incident only showed that Pakatan has allowed extremism to creep into its administration, citing the examples of opposition against the MTV concert, the proposal to ban sale of beer, and a recent plan to close entertainment outlets in Kedah during Ramadan.