Will JAIS prevent Muslims from attending religious ceremonies and celebrations of other faiths?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 5th of June, 2014

I read with shock and horror at the response of JAIS Deputy Director-General Ahmad Zaki Arshad when asked to justify the actions taken by JAIS to ‘raid’ or disrupt the proceedings at a Hindu wedding in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, the 1st of June. He was reported to have said the following:

“For example, if Rafael Nadal comes to Malaysia and goes to a church, we have to investigate because he has a Muslim name. So please do not jump to conclusions,” he said in referring to the world number one Spanish tennis player.[1]

Firstly, it is ludicrous to say that Rafael Nadal is a Muslim name as neither Rafael nor Nadal, as far as I know, are names which are widely used by any Muslim community anywhere in the world. To use Rafael Nadal as an example of a Muslim name clearly shows the ignorance of JAIS Deputy Director, Ahmad Zaki.

Secondly, there are many non-Muslim Malaysians especially from Sabah and Sarawak who have names which sound like Malay / Muslim names. For example, CEO of PEMANDU, Senator Idris Jala, has a name which sounds like a Muslim even though he is a Christian Kelabit from Bario in Sarawak. Will JAIS go and investigate someone by the name of Idris Jala if there is a report made that someone by this name is attending a church somewhere in Selangor?

Thirdly, is the Deputy Director General of JAIS implying that JAIS would have to investigate any reported incidents of Muslims in Selangor who happen to be at a non-Muslim place of worship? Is it wrong for a Muslim to visit a church or a Chinese or Hindu temple especially during festive occasions or celebrations? For example, a member of the DAP’s newspaper, The Rocket, was recently married and held a wedding ceremony in a church in Subang Jaya where Christian songs were sung and where bible passages were read out. Many of the DAP’s Malay staff including those from Roketkini, our Malay publication, attending this wedding in this church. Would JAIS also have raided or disrupted this wedding if they had received reports that there were some Malays who were attending this wedding? Should non-Muslims in the state of Selangor now stop inviting their Malay friends to attend weddings or celebrations or festivals which are held in non-Muslim places of worship? Should Muslim politicians in Malaysia stop attending any functions in non-Muslim places of worship because inviting Muslim politicians to these events can be interpreted as an act of proselytization by non-Muslims?

The insensitive manner in which this raid was conducted coupled with the ignorant remarks made by the Deputy Director General of JAIS shows an organization that has clearly failed to take into account the sensitivities of the non-Muslim communities in the state of Selangor and is overzealous in its approach in investigating such reports. Rather than adopt an “act-first, think-later” operating procedure, JAIS should respect the sanctity of non-Muslim places of worship and seek the approval of the Selangor state government, as agreed upon, before any action is taken on cases involving non-Muslims.[2]

This action taken by JAIS, together with the confiscation of the BM bibles belonging to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and the 2011 raid on DUMC, a church in Petaling Jaya, have increased the perception that non-Muslims in Selangor are ‘under siege’ and will only worsen inter-ethnic relations not just in Selangor but in the rest of the country as well.