Rabu, April 07, 2010


Govt agrees to inter-faith committee (update)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has agreed to the formation of a special inter-faith committee to promote better religious understanding between Islam and other religious faiths.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the committee will be headed by former Kota Baru MP Datuk Ilani Isahak, who will be appointed as the special coordinator.

Members will comprise representatives from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim) and the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

"The committee is not a legal structure; it's not a rigid structure. It's a framework to provide exchange of ideas on religion.

"We don't want to call it an inter-faith panel, but a special committee to promote understanding and harmony among the various faiths.

"The idea of the committee is for the members to hold informal dialogues, not on only one issue, but also matters such as inter-marriages, religious conversions as well as custody of children.

"The committee will exchange their views and we will get feedback and get a better understanding on religious issues," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday.

Dr Koh, who is charge of national unity and integrity, said he will report the committee's activities to the Cabinet from time to time.

He added the formation of the committee was first proposed in January and the Cabinet gave its approval in February.

There have been numerous calls for the formation of an inter-faith panel aimed at promoting religious understanding.

The calls became much louder following the controversy over a High Court ruling on the use of the word "Allah" by The Herald , a publication by the Catholic church.

However, the idea for the formation of an inter-faith council was rejected by various Muslim groups.

Dr Koh said Ilani was chosen to head the committee because she had good personal contacts with the country's religious leaders.

"We decided this will be the best set-up rather than involving politicians. Let the religious leaders sit down and talk to each other," he added

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