Catholic Bishop Emeritus Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing said the ruling of the Kelantan state government that all shops, including non-Muslim-owned ones, must close during maghrib prayers is “confirmation if at all that is needed” that Muslim strictures will eventually be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysia.
“All this while, we have heard with great scepticism assurances by proponents of Islamic ordinances that these won’t be imposed on non-Muslims,” said the former head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese.
“It’s not that we needed this instance of a ruling by the Kelantan state government requiring not only Muslim-owned but also non-Muslim owned shops to be shuttered during maghrib prayers to convince us non-Muslims that the assurances won’t be upheld,” he added.
“We were flabbergasted at the evidence that some Muslims don’t quite get the drift of their religion or are engaging in deliberate deception – which is that theirs is a supremacist religion which will seek to impose its strictures on non-Muslims,” argued the Jesuit-trained prelate.
Bishop Paul said enough episodes have occurred in recent and no-so-recent history for non-Muslims to reject assurances by proponents of Muslim laws that these would not be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysia.
“Now the Kelantan state government ruling that non-Muslim-owned shops must all close during maghrib prayers is proof incontrovertible that eventually Muslim laws, if given rein, will be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysia,” asserted the bishop.
“I reiterate that the blanket nature of this ruling comes as no surprise to non-Muslims who were thereby justified in having maintained a resolute opposition to Act 355 when it shaped to come up for debate in Parliament and was eventually allowed to be tabled,” noted Bishop Paul.
ZAID TO FIGHT KELANTAN LAW BUT HADI?
The prelate was referring to the PAS president Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill, popularly referred to as Act 355, which was tabled on the last day (April 6) of the Lower House’s initial sitting for the year.
Hadi was at pains to assure non-Muslims that the bill has nothing to do with them, an assurance that was disbelieved with an equal and comparable earnestness to that of its deliverer.
“Do you think he would now tell the Kelantan state government that they should restrict the application of their ruling on closed shops during maghrib prayers to only Muslim-owned ones?” asked the bishop.
“I may be wrong but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.
“Once they make a blanket ruling like that, they won’t retract – it would be too much of a comedown,” opined Bishop Paul.
“Therein lies the nature of this Islamic juggernaut – it will crunch all scruples, it will sweep aside all nuances until you have a fully Islamic polity,” he said.
Bishop Paul said he was keen on the outcome of a legal challenge that former law minister Zaid Ibrahim intends to file against the Kelantan government over the legitimacy of their ruling over shops and stalls closure during maghrib prayers.