I am puzzled over the reaction of some of the Members of Parliament and the Kelana Jaya Umno Youth leaders towards Loh Seng Kok's speech in Parliament on March 15.
Neither the issue nor the suggestion to set up a non-Islamic Religions Council or bodies alike was new.
I had raised the issue and the suggestion to set up a non-Islamic Religions Council in the Selangor State Assembly since I was elected in 1995. I raised it with 3 Menteri Besar namely, Tan Sri Mohamad bin Mohd Taib, Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar and Dato Dr Seri Khir Toyo. During Abu Hassan's tenure as Menteri Besar, I had even specifically named it as Majlis Agama Bukan Islam Selangor (MABIS) to deal with the non-Islamic religious affairs.
Eventually, Khir Toyo decided to set up one in Selangor though the name used was not the one I suggested. It is now chaired by Selangor MCA Exco member, Dato Tang See Hang. Although the performance of that council has not been satisfactory and no annual allocation is given to it, at least it has become a precedence. It's nothing new.
I am unable to understand the logic of those MPs and the Umno Youth leaders when they claimed that the issue was sensitive and it hurt the muslims' feeling. How could the legitimate demand of the non-muslims for the development of their own religions be sensitive to the muslims? How could this become a zero sum game?
Some have claimed that by having a non-Islamic council, it would make non-Islamic religions equivalent to Islam in term of its status as the religion of the Federation. Now, we have Islamic Council solely for Islam but all other non-Islamic religions are being lumped into one council. Where is the equivalance?
I think those MP and leaders concerned are allergic to non-Islamic religions.