KOTA KINABALU, Sept 9 — Sabah is against any proposal that will restrict the freedom of religion of its people, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor here today.
He said that the state government holds firmly to the principle of religious freedom as declared in the Federal Constitution and the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
“Sabah is saying no to the proposed bills on Control and Restrictions on the Expansion of non-Islam Religions as one of the four new Shariah bills,” he said in a statement here.
“Sabah is a state with people of many cultures and religions who have lived in peace and harmony all this while. Even with so many differing beliefs, we respect each other’s culture without problem,” he said, adding that Sabah’s unity in diversity was one of its pillars.
Hajiji’s comments followed other Sabah-based parties like Parti Bersatu Sabah, Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku and United Progressive Kinabalu (Upko) who have all rejected the concept of such Bill that they said is unconstitutional.
The Islamic affairs portfolio under the Prime Minister’s Department was recently reported proposed new Shariah Bills which included the contentious abovementioned one.
PBS president Parti Bersatu Sabah Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said that the matter was never discussed at the federal Cabinet level so far but said he hopes other partners in the Perikatan Nasional government like Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), MCA and MIC will oppose such bills.
“PBS is confident that the new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will honour these guarantees which have become treasured assets of our nation since the formation of the Federation. This is especially so, in light of the prime minister’s vision of building a Malaysian Family.
STAR president Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan also expressed concern about any plans to introduce legislation to further control and restrict the propagation of non-Muslim religions but said that the provisions of the new Bill are unclear.
“It is too early to say whether this new Bill will violate the Constitution, or more importantly for us in Sabah, the agreement carved on the Oath Stone.
“However, keep in mind that Sabah is a multicultural and multireligious nation, and its people have lived in harmony with one another for decades, regardless of creed or background.
“I am concerned that this issue, which is completely unnecessary now and in the future, will cause unprecedented discord among our people,” he said.