by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Friday, 9th February 1990:
Proposal for a Three Lims meeting with Ling Liong Sik and Lim Keng Yaik on the nation-wide campaign of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism to reject the imposition of Syariah (Islamic Laws) of Non-Muslim Malaysians
Today, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) starts its three-day nation-wide prayers (Feb. 9 -11) in churches, temples and private homes for the three-fold purpose of :
(i) Freedom to profess and practise one’s religion;
(ii) Freedom from the application of the Syariah to non-Muslim Malaysians; and
(iii) Peace and understanding between peoples of the different faiths.
The three-day national prayers is one of the two-prong national programme launched by the MCCBCHS to restore the Constitutional right of freedom of religion of Non-Muslim Malaysians. The other prong is a nation-wide signature campaign to request the Government to ensure that the Syariah is not imposed on Non-Muslim Malaysians.
In explaining the reasons for launching this nation-wide campaign, the MCCBCHS said that in recent years, escalation of efforts to introduce Islamic principles and values and to explain the Syariah to Muslims and Non-Muslims alike has caused anxiety to Non-Muslims.
MCCBCHS said that what is more frightening is the denial of such fears of Non-Muslims by the Muslim leaders. Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said at an Islamic seminar in Singapore on March 12, 1989 that Non-Muslims’ fear of Islamization is not widespread.
Fears of Non-Muslims about Islamisation not given serious consideration
This statement by Anwar Ibrahim had been disputed by Rev. Father Paul Tan, Hon. Secretary of the MCCBCHS, who pointed out that “countless memoranda have been sent by representatives of Non-Muslim religious leaders protesting against several aspects of the Islamization process”.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism had also publicly made press statements of the fears of Non-Muslims.
At a symposium on “Towards a better Understanding of the Shariah” organised by the Law Society of the International Islamic Society from Sept. 1-3, 1989 representatives from MCCBCHS and DAP expressed their rejection of the Syariah based upon fears stemming from actual experiences of discrimination against the Non-Muslims.
With this background, the MCCBCHS had come to the conclusion that the fears of the Non-Muslims about the imposition of Islamic Law on them are not being seriously taken into consideration by a good number of Muslim leaders. As a result, the MCCBCHS feels strongly that it must once again state its views strongly in rejecting any imposition of Islamic Law on non-Muslims by the two-prong campaign of three-day national prayers and a mass national signature campaign.
The DAP has consistently spoken up against Islamisation and attempts to impose the Syariah on Non-muslim Malaysians. DAP MPs will highlight the legitimate concerns and worries of the MCCBCHS and all Non-Muslim Malaysians in the coming Parliamentary meeting beginning on Feb. 26.
This is a very important question in multi-religious Malaysia which will decide on whether there would be unity and success in the harnessing of the great human energies and resources in Malaysia.
I suggest a meeting with the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and MCA President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, on the national campaign of the MCCBCHS to reject the application of Syariah on Non-Muslim Malaysians. I leave it to Liong Sik and Keng Yaik to state whether they are prepared to hold such a Three Lims Meeting on the constitutional rights of the Non-Muslim Malaysians to unfettered freedom to profess and practise one’s religion.
Undoubtedly, in the recent years, such constitutional freedoms of religious worship had suffered relentless erosion, as seen by the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment, the latest case of 15-year-old Ooi Kim Hooi who converted to Islam without parental knowledge or consent and caused family break-up by deserting her home, the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) statue in Kek Lok Si in Penang, and a whole host of other instances in a Policy Statement by MCCBCHS.
I hope that Liong Sik and Keng Yaik will be prepared to discuss these issues with me at a Three Lims Meeting on the restoration of the constitutional rights of Non-Muslim Malaysians to their fundamental right to profess and practise one’s religion. If Liong Sik and Keng Yaik are prepared to hold such a meeting, then we can even expand it to include the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu.