Thursday, November 02, 2006


The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) wants the Cabinet to reassure all Malaysians that their privacy will always be protected and nobody is subjected to harassment from Islamic Religious Officers.

The federation's executive committee said it was troubled and deeply concerned by news reports that a foreign couple had been "traumatised in the wee hours of the morning when officers of the Kedah Religious Department stormed into their Langkawi condominium and rudely interrogated them."

Americans, retired policeman Randal Barnhart and his wife Carole, who had wanted to make Malaysia their second home, are now reconsidering that plan after their unpleasant encounter with religious officials who had accused them of committing khalwat (close proximity).

The federation said that even though the Barnharts, in their 60s and married for over 42 years, told the raiding team they were Christians, the officers continued to be intimidating towards the couple, insisting they show their marriage certificate.

Although the Prime Minister had just recently refuted his predecessor's claim that Malaysia was now a police state, the federation said incidents such as that in Kedah and other similar actions by over-zealous vigilante groups in Malaysia pointed to the contrary.

Apart from urging the Cabinet to look into the matter and take steps to reassure all Malaysians, the federation called on the Kedah Religious Department to offer an official apology to the Barnharts, and for the Tourism Minister to assure all tourists and Malaysians that they will not be subjected to vigilante moral policing by religious officers.

"The CFM joins the voices of other concerned groups in the country in affirming the personal freedoms guaranteed to every person in our Constitution and that no person should be subject to laws other than what is sanctioned by Parliament," it added.

No comments: