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KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Selangor should consider amending the enactment that allows the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) to directly control the state’s religious authorities, PAS lawmakers said today.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said the move would ensure that Mais follows the policies of the Pakatan Rakyat state government and prevent the council from acting independently, following its refusal to return the hundreds of bibles seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).
“We want the state government to study the enactment that gives executive power to Mais where it can order Jais (Selangor Islamic Affairs Department) and such and if necessary, amend the enactment.
“As we know it Mais is an institution close to the institution of the Selangor Sultan. And their actions can tarnish the Sultan’s image,” he told a press conference in Parliament here.
He added that PR has the two-thirds majority in the state legislature assembly needed to make the amendments.
Khalid said the move was necessary to preserve interfaith harmony in the state.
“The state must study how to rectify this problem and the Islamic affairs exco (executive councillors) must look into this problem to preserve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the state and to protect the image of the Sultan,” he said.
The Shah Alam MP added that the state PAS chapter should spearhead the initiative.
The view echoes that of former president of the BSM who yesterday called on the Selangor government to strip the state Islamic authorities of their enforcement powers, arguing that the religious council and its officers were overstepping the scope of their powers to police other faiths.
Lee Min Choo claimed there was now a “crisis of confidence” in Selangor after Mais and Jais refused to return the hundreds of bibles seized from the BSM’s office in Petaling Jaya earlier this year despite orders from the state government and advice from federal authorities.
Khalid said today Mais and Jais’s defiance had tarnished Islam’s image as a religion that stresses respect for other faiths.
“They have damaged Islam’s image because Islam demands its followers respect the faiths of others and their holy books,” he said.
The Islamic authorities are now seeking a court ruling, which will enable them to dispose the Malay-, and Iban-language bibles they had seized on January 2.
Mais has consistently said they will not return the bibles, claiming the AG erred by deciding not to pursue charges in the case.
Mais reiterated that Jais, which comes under the council’s purview, will not adhere to the directive issued by the Selangor government because the state had “no power” in the matter.
Mais insisted that there are grounds to “prosecute” BSM under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.