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Monday, May 9, 2011

Christian State: Utusan blowing hot air, says don

So who is actually in charge? PM or Utusan? 1Malaysia or 1Melayu?

Hazlan Zakaria | Malaysiakini

Renowned constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari has dismissed Utusan Malaysia’s article on a supposed conspiracy to make Christianity Malaysia’s official religion as “ridiculous”.

“Constitutionally it is just illogical. It cannot happen, just impossible. Even if Pakatan controlled hundred percent of the Dewan Rakyat.

“Remember that the Senate which has similar powers to the lower house when it comes to constitutional amendments, is not under their control as some of the senators belong to Umno-BN.”

He argued that technically the upper house can block the amendment passed by the Dewan Rakyat.

Abdul Aziz contended that the provisions on the subject matters – monarchy, Islam and the Malays – are simply beyond the ordinary political process.

“Under the constitution the Conference of Rulers have the veto power on these matters. Even if Parliament – which means the two houses – pass the amendment it can only take effect if the Rulers agree.

“That is why it is almost impossible to abolish the position of the rulers and Islam.”

A fact that he said even Premier Najib Razak attested to in his address to the Umno General Asembly last year.

“PM Najib said all those provisions were ‘terkunci mati’ which means they could not be taken away by anybody. So who is actually in charge? PM or Utusan? 1Malaysia or 1Melayu?

“Was Utusan suggesting that the rulers are out of mind and unable to protect the provisions?” asked the IIUM law professor.

On another legal standpoint, Abdul Aziz urged police to investigate Utusan and the blogs that initially carried the reports and ascertain their allegations.

“It looks like the headline (Kristian ugama rasmi?) needs to be investigated. Reports have been lodged so the police must start the process immediately.”

‘Church, Pakatan can sue Utusan’

He also believed that the Catholic Church and Pakatan can also initiate legal action and take the Malay daily and the blogs who accused them to court.

After all, Pakatan has already stated clearly in its ‘Orange Book’ that it respects Islam as the religion of the federation.

“In short, actions – both civil and criminal – may be taken against Utusan. There are provisions in the Sedition Act 1948, Printing Presses Act 1984 (publishing false news) and even the Penal Code for the purpose,” pointed out the professor.

Yesterday the Malay language daily headlined a news story, accusing DAP of colluding with Christian pastors to make Christianity the country’s official religion so that a Christian can become prime minister.

Utusan immediately came under fire from political leaders across partisan divide and the Catholic Church for the report.

Curiously the government seem to be taking the Umno-owned Malay daily’s report at face value, despite the report being based on unsubstantiated tales published on Umno-friendly blogs.

Information, Culture and Communication Minister Rais Yatim (left) has warned errant parties not to trifle with the special position of Islam and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is quoted as saying that he viewed the “Christian agenda” as serious.

The police however seem to have taken a more cautionary stance, what with the deputy IGP,Khalid Abu Bakar, saying that they will investigate the bloggers who initially published the story to ascertain its veracity, warning all parties not to play up sensitive issues and jeopardise Malaysia’s harmony.

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