This is from the Catholic Asian News. Rest assured, it all didn’t happen overnight. 50 years is a long time. To undo this damage (if there is a political will) then, would mean another ??? years! Maybe it’s time to reflect and contemplate on all that’s happened and ask ourselves what sort of nation do we want in 50, 100 years from now…..
50 Years of Islamisation
The Catholic Asian News
Compiled by Aneel David Kannabhiran
1957: The Reid Commission drafted the Federal Constitution, and at the
behest of one of the Commission members, Mr. Justice Abdul Hamid of West
Pakistan High Court, Article 3 (1) was formulated as such: “Islam is the
religion of the Federation …”
1966: Restrictions were placed on the employment, entry and residence of
priests and religious personnel. This led to the reduction of religious
personnel in mission schools.
1974: The Red Cross Society was re-named Red Crescent Society.
1974 to present: The airing of Islamic television and radio programmes
began increasing. From 1974 onwards, prime time television programmes were
paused to air the Azans [Muslim prayer]. In 1982 Islamic content on TV
stood at 10 per cent; in 1988 it rose to 17.5 per cent.
In 2007, new station TV9 was launched, which features mainly Islamic
programming. There is no coverage of non-Muslim religious programmes, save
for during the respective festivals.
Songs that contain the word ‘Jesus’ have been banned [eg: “Jesus to a
Child” by George Michael], as well as movies depicting prophets [eg:
“Prince of Egypt”, a film about the life of Moses].
1979: The Islamic Revolution and revivalism in Iran had a direct effect on
Muslims here. Muslim clerics began exhorting their faithful to return to
the fundamentals of the faith. The Angkatan Budaya Islam Malaysia
[Malaysian Islamic Cultural Force] (ABIM) led by Anwar Ibrahim started the
dakwah [the call] movement mainly among government college and university
Muslim women, for the first time, were seen donning the tudung [head
covering]. Over the years, wearing of the tudung has become the norm
amongst Muslim women.
1981: The Indonesian translation of the Bible – “Alkitab” was banned under
the Internal Security Act. The ban was later lifted on condition the books
were restricted to Christian use.
In 2000, the Bahasa Malaysia translation of “Alkitab” was confiscated by
the Special Branch from the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore in Petaling
Jaya. The then Deputy PM Abdullah Badawi later released the books on
condition that the words “for Christians only” were printed on the cover.
1984: It became illegal for non-Muslims to use 49 ‘Islamic’ words including
Allah [God], Alhamdulilah [Praise be to God] and Insya Allah [God willing].
1985: The then Deputy Prime Minister [PM] Datuk Musa Hitam said, “The
government has set up a committee to co-ordinate the various aspects of
Islamic Syariah and civil laws in line with efforts to infuse Islamic
values into the Administration.” [New Straits Times (NST) 9 March ’85]
Aug 1986: ABIM proposes to government that, “Islamic laws be the basis of
legislation in Malaysia.” [NST 25 Aug ’86]
Sep 1986: The Federal and State governments agreed to the integration of
Syariah and Civil Courts. The then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas said this
integration was a first step toward the Islamisation of laws in the
country. He also said that changes should not be made drastically … the
best changes are those which are imperceptible. [The Star 25 Sep ’86]
The above situation led to a written protest by the Malaysian Consultative
Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism [MCCBCHS], and a
nationwide church and temple signature campaign denouncing the plans.
1988: The then Minister of Education Anwar Ibrahim, directed all
Principals, aged fifty-five and above who were religious, to stop service
with immediate effect. The Principals who took over were mostly Muslim.
* Moral Education replaced Christian religious education in these
schools.The majority of Moral Education teachers were Muslim.
* Crucifixes in mission schools were removed.
* School history textbooks glorified Islam and Islamic civilisation over
* “Islamic Civilisation” was introduced as a compulsory subject for all
1988: Article 121 of the Federal Constitution was amended by Art. 121 (1A),
to state that, the Civil Courts “shall have no jurisdiction in respect of
any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.”
The result of this amendment led to the Civil Courts being unable to
adjudicate in cases where the Islamic ingredient is present notwithstanding
the fact the person seeking judicial relief or remedy is a non-Muslim,
especially in matters related to conversion, matrimony, children’s custody
Over the years, case law has shown:
* a person who converts to Islam can get his/her civil marriage dissolved
by the Syariah court, automatically gains custody of children and is
allowed to convert them without the non-Muslim parent’s consent [Subashini
* a person who converts out of Islam cannot change religious status on
his/her Identity Card without permission from the Syariah Court [Lina Joy
* a person who applies to the Syariah Court to convert away from Islam is
forced into rehabilitative detention [Revathi Masoosai case ].
* State Islamic authorities are given power by the Syariah Courts to claim,
exhume and bury deceased persons who they deem as Muslims, regardless of
the insistence of family members to the contrary [Moorthy Marian and
Rayappan Anthony cases].
1980s: In line with Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution: “State and
federal law may restrict the propagation of any other religious doctrine
among Muslims”, the Control and Restriction of the Propagation of
Non-Islamic Religions Enactment was passed in six states. The penalties for
such violations are a maximum RM10,000 fine or one year’s jail, or both.
Five persons including a former Muslim were detained without trial under
the ISA for allegedly performing missionary work amongst Muslims.
During the 80s the print media attempted to portray that Christian
evangelism was a threat to the Muslim faith. As an example, on 9 Oct ’87,
the NST reported that, “Christians attempted to convert Muslims with bribe
money”. On 5 Oct ’87 Mingguan Islam alleged that US$100bil was provided by
the “World Federation of Churches” for the Christianisation of Muslims. The
Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and
Sikhism [MCCBCHS] asserted that both these stories were false. Furthermore,
there is no such body as the “World Federation of Churches”.
1980s to present: Approvals for building of non-Muslim places of worship
became increasingly difficult. Unusual conditions were imposed – height
restrictions on steeples, design restrictions temple domes – Sikh gurdwaras
are barred from building their traditional domes for fear that it may cause
confusion for looking too mosque-like.
The Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam took no less than 28 years to
be approved and built due to vexatious bureaucratic delays and protests
To date, over 10 Hindu temples have been demolished by local councils on
grounds that the structures were illegal.
1980s to present: Muslims by virtue of paying their tithes [zakat] are
allowed a tax rebate of the amount tithed. This has resulted in Muslims
having a lower effective tax rate, while non-Muslims with the same level of
income are taxed a higher percentage.
1993: Banks and finance companies were allowed to offer Islamic banking
1993: Kelantan State Legislative Assembly, which is under the control of
opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia [PAS], passed the Syariah Criminal Code
[II] Bill, which included Hudud laws that call for stoning to death and
chopping of limbs – these laws could be applied to those from any religion.
[As the Federal Government does not recognise these laws, to date, they
have not yet been enforced.]
1999: The ruling Barisan Nasional [BN] party suffered its biggest setback
in its history when apart from Kelantan, also lost the state of Terengganu
to PAS in the General Elections.
PAS, with its vision of setting up a Syariah-based Islamic State, replaced
the Democratic Action Party [DAP] as the main opposition party in Parliament.
This led to a race between the BN and PAS to try and ‘out-Islamise’ each
other by posturing themselves to appear more ‘Islamic’.
2001: In an apparent attempt to thwart support for PAS’ plans of an Islamic
State should it come into power, the then PM Mahathir Mohamed declared that
Malaysia was already a “model Islamic Country”. Despite public outcry from
the non-Muslim population, the non-Malay component parties within the
ruling coalition were either compliant or silent on the issue.
2002: The policy “Absorption of Islamic Values” into government
administration was launched. According to the booklet, “Malaysia is an
Islamic Country”, the “policy will be implemented on a continuous basis
until the goal of entrenching Islam into the nation’s system is fully
achieved.” The booklet was later withdrawn but the policy is arguably still
2004: PAS was ousted by the DAP as main opposition party in Parliament when
it lost Terengganu to the BN and retained Kelantan by the narrowest of
margins in the General Election. The BN, helmed by new PM Abdullah Badawi,
experienced its biggest victory to date winning nine tenths of the
contested Parliamentary seats.
Badawi then introduced the new concept of Islam Hadhari [Civilisational Islam].
2005: Plans to set up an Interfaith Commission, a statutory
non-adjudicative body to assist the government in shaping coherent policy
pertaining to religious harmony, were scuttled by widespread protests from
Muslim activists who alleged the Commission would “interfere with the
holiness of Islam”.
2005: City Hall enforcement officers arrested a non-Muslim couple for
hugging and kissing in a public park. The couple appealed to the Federal
Court, which ruled that City Hall was correct. The decision has now
empowered local council authorities to act as morality police.
2006: An elderly American couple on holiday in Langkawi were harassed and
humiliated by State religious enforcement officers who raided their
apartment on suspicion they were Muslims committing khalwat [close
proximity] – an offence under Syariah law.
2006: A coalition of non-governmental organisations [NGOs] formed “Article
11″ [named after the constitutional provision which enshrines freedom of
religion], with the intention of reminding the government to defend the
Federal Constitution and reaffirm the country’s secular nature. Their
nationwide fora were repeatedly disrupted by Islamist activists. The PM
stepped in and assuaged the protestors by putting a halt “Article 11’s”
2006: The Attorney General’s Chambers now has a Syariah unit whose
functions, inter alia, are to “take steps toward the realisation of a set
of laws and specific body that will be responsible for the harmonisation of
civil law and syarak [laws of Islam]”.
This could be seen as a resumption of the 1985-1988 initiative towards the
integration of Syariah and Civil Courts.
2007: Islamic authorities have been observed to have grown more tyrannical
in their enforcement, as evidenced by the recent Revathi Masoosai case
where they forcibly took away her child on the grounds that she was a
Muslim who illegally practised Hinduism, despite her claim that she had
been a practising Hindu since childhood.
A “Building Bridges” seminar of prominent Muslim and Christian scholars
under the auspice of the Archbishop of Canterbury scheduled for 7-11 May
2007 was abruptly postponed by officials of the Prime Minister’s
Department. No new date has been yet fixed.
July 17 2007: Deputy PM Najib Abdul Razak said Malaysia has never been a
secular state as the government has always been driven by the fundamentals
of Islam, according to state Bernama news agency.
‘Hudud Laws, The Constitution and the Penal Code’ by O.C. Lim, SJ.
‘Islamisation of Malaysian Laws’ by Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ.
‘Why the MCCBCHS Rejects the Application of the Syariah on Non-Muslims’ by
Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and
‘Journey of the Catholic Church in Malaysia’ by Maureen Chew, IJ.
‘Unity Threatened by Continuing Infringements of Religious Freedom’ by
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism
and Taoism [MCCBCHST]
Catholic Asian News : March, May, July, Sept 2006, May 2007.
For further reading, download the booklet “Report on the State of Religious
Liberty in Malaysia for the Year 2006″ by the
< http://www.necf.org.my/>National Evangelical Christian Fellowship [NECF]
The booklet, “Unity Threatened by Continuing Infringements of Religious
Freedom” by Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity,
Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism [MCCBCHST] is available free from MCCBCHST,
Buddhist Maha Vihara, 123, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470, Kuala Lumpur.