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No two laws for multireligious Malaysia, says Sarawak deputy chief minister.

A multi-religious country like Malaysian should be governed only one set of laws to allow freedom of religion, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has said.

Masing also expressed his disagreement to institutionalised religion, arguing that faith should remain a personal choice and cannot be legislated or forced upon, The Borneo Post reported today.

'You cannot have two sets of laws in one nation like Malaysia.

'As such, we cannot legislate religion because it's about freedom of conscience of the person or individual,' the president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak was quoted saying.

'So how can we force something on someone if he or she doesn't believe in it?' he asked.

Masing's statement follows a call from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Opposition pact to the Sarawak government to amend state laws to provide clear guidelines so would-be apostates can get the necessary Letter of Release that will allow them to be officially recognised as no longer being Muslims.

The state PH chapter proposal came after the Federal Court ruled Tuesday that only the state Shariah Court has the power to hear apostasy cases after four Sarawakians applied to leave Islam.

Three had wanted to return while the other embraced Christianity.

Masing who is a Christian was also reported by The Borneo Post urging everyone to respect the founding fathers' concept of religious freedom, enshrined in Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution

He said they foresaw that as a multiracial nation, people must be allowed to profess their religious beliefs.

'Our founding fathers were wise men because they know that Malaysia does not constitute just one race. It's a multiracial nation; therefore when there is a multiracial people, there will be multi religious beliefs,' he was quoted saying.

'In this case, different groups will profess different religions. That is expected of a multi-racial country like Malaysia.

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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Mar 3, 2018
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