Christian Malay leader could be charged with sedition

An evangelical Christian leader in Malaysia may face charges of sedition following a statement he made about a section of the country's constitution this past weekend. reports Datuk Ibrahim Ali, leader of the Perkasa movement, saying that in order to safeguard national security, Malaysian authorities must charge with sedition those who question Article 153 of the constitution - as he claims Christian leader Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng did on Christmas Day.

"We demand the government use the Sedition Act on anyone who makes statements like this from now on and charge them in court," the Perkasa chief told reporters December 27.

Ibrahim Ali was referring to a statement made on Saturday by National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman Eu, who likened Article 153 to "bullying" for only protecting the rights of one group.

According to the newspaper story, Article 153 of the Malay Constitution states that it is the king's responsibility "to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article".

Calling Eu's statement "irresponsible provocation", Ibrahim said use of the Sedition Act would deter further attempts to question the provision and preserve racial harmony.

Disputing the article would only lead to civil strife as it was part and parcel of an established social contract that could not be amended without consent from the Malay rulers, he said.

The Malay rights leader also cautioned Christians against repeating statements similar to Eu's in light of past controversies like the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) raid earlier this year, as this would only give the impression that Christians wished to make enemies of Muslims.

"We're only upholding what's in the Federal Constitution ... Please don't keep provoking us on and on because it's not good for the country. And we have been patient for so long," he said.

Amid growing debate, opposition leaders claimed that the article has been manipulated by ruling Malay party Umno and is now being used as "a weapon of aggression".

Constitutional expert Professor Abdul Aziz Bari had said earlier that Article 153 meant the king must ensure safeguarding Bumiputera rights did not come at the expense of the legitimate interests of other communities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin denied that the provision has been used to bully any community.

According to Wikipedia, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia, or Perkasa, is a non-governmental Malay Supremacy organisation that was formed by Ibrahim Ali in the aftermath of the Malaysian general elections in 2008.

Wikipedia says the group claims to have a membership of 300,000, although outsiders estimate the actual figure to be much lower. The major objectives for establishing Perkasa, according to Ibrahim Ali, are the "protectors of Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia," and to defend the rights of Bumiputera (Malay term widely used in Malaysia, embracing indigenous people of the Malay Archipelago) from being eroded by certain quarters.

Perkasa is said to be fighting and defending the rights of the Malays which they feel are being challenged by non-Malays in Malaysia. It has been branded a fascist organisation by various quarters.

Datuk Dr Hasan Ali of PAS (the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party), who is the man in charge of Islamic religious affairs, has defended the above-mentioned raid of a multi-racial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Centre by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department's (Jais) claiming there were proselytisation efforts being made on Muslims that night.