Malaysiakini:Anwar explains his stance to Christian leaders
Posted February 3, 2008on:
|Anwar explains his stance to Christian leaders|
|Terence Netto | Feb 2, 08 11:42am|
|De facto (KeADILan) leader Anwar Ibrahim was subjected to a rigorous examination of his stances on religious issues by about 200 Christian clerics and lay activists and appeared to emerge intact.There was no variance between his public pronouncements and his private assurances to his inquisitors, an observer at a recent dialogue between Anwar and the Christian leaders noted.
The closed-door dialogue session held in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday morning ran several minutes past lunchtime, which some attendees, assured of anonymity, said was a sign of the eagerness of Anwar’s interlocutors to probe him on issues of deep concern to Malaysia 2.2 million Christians. The meeting began at 9.30am.
Organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia, the dialogue was the first of several the CFM plans to hold with political parties in the run-up to the 12th general election.
Hitherto viewed with suspicion by Christian leaders because of his association with the Islamisation drive by the government inaugurated when he joined Umno in 1982, Anwar and his wife Dr Wan Azizah were surprise invitees of the Catholic Archbishop Murphy Pakiam to the Christmas Day open house hosted by the Christian Federation of Malaysia at Bukit Nanas on December 25. It was a sign that the (KeADILan) leader was being viewed in a new light.
For the dialogue session, Anwar was accompanied by (KeADILan) information chief Tian Chua and supreme council member Dr. Xavier Jeyakumar.
Anwar told his audience said his Islamist convictions were no hindrance to his defence of a free and democratic Malaysia that adhered to the Merdeka Constitution. He said an independent and impartial judiciary would go a long way to ensure that Malaysians enjoyed the rights vouchsafed them by the Merdeka Constitution.
He said (KeADILan) was not in favour of establishing an Islamic state but he, like many Muslims, was averse to the notion of a secular state which to Muslims carries the implication that a God-mandated philosophy had no bearing on public life.
‘Allah’ should be allowed
He said (KeADILan) enjoyed a unique advantage in that it could mediate the middle ground between the secularism of the Democratic Action Party and the Islamism of PAS. He said (KeADILan)’s mediation of this ground helped to sharpen everyone’s awareness that the rights guaranteed by the Merdeka Constitution deserved upholding.
Anwar said since an entire generation of Malaysians had grown up using Bahasa Malaysia as a medium of communication, he saw no reason why Christian Malaysians in their prayers could not use the Arabic term for God – ‘Allah’.
Probed about his role in the Islamisation campaign by the government instituted when he was part of the ruling party between 1982 and 1998, Anwar denied there ever was an order to take down crosses from mission schools.
He said zealous lower echelon officials may have gone overboard by removing these crosses but these underlings acted of their own volition, and not at executive behest.
Anwar said the widow of the late mountain climber, S Moorthy, should have been allowed to bury her husband because it was she who cared for him.
He said a (KeADILan) government would ensure that syariah courts were headed by judges of calibre trained at quality Islamic universities. He said he was in favour of syariah courts enforcing Islamic family and inheritance laws on Muslims but that they should have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims.