Monday, January 14, 2008

BN continues to guarantee religious freedom: Max

The Barisan Nasional (BN) Government will continue to preserve and guarantee freedom to practise one’s religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili who said this, pointed out that with regard to the use of “Allah” by non-Muslim religions, the matter was not new and was first decided by the Cabinet and the Conference of Rulers in 1986. “Nevertheless, through consultations between representatives of the various religions and the BN leadership, an amicable solution was reached. “Hence, it was never a real constraint to religious practice by churches in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said in his speech at the Christmas and New year celebrations hosted by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)’s Kiulu division in Kampung Pukak yesterday. Ongkili said problems did arise from time to time because of overzealous officers taking action on the importation and publication of Christian materials due to unclear guidelines. “As minister overseeing national unity, I am of the opinion that the spirit of consultation and moderation practised by both the churches and the BN Government should prevail as a basic approach to managing religious relations in Malaysia. “A confrontational approach through legal means or otherwise should be avoided at all times because of the long-term negative impact on all sides,” he said. Meanwhile, Ongkili urged the people in Kiulu to rally behind the BN in the coming general election to ensure continued development and prosperity in the state. - Bernama