Noor Farida shrugs off Rahim Din’s withdrawal, says more joining group

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR: The group of prominent Malays asking for a rational dialogue on Islam might have lost Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Din as a signatory but organiser Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin (pic) said it was no loss as more have shown interest in joining them.

She said at least 10 distinguished Malays from both the civil service and private sector had wanted to join them since the publication of the open letter on Dec 9, which had received tremendous support from Malaysians.

“No, it is not a loss. I think he has been influenced by certain people who mistakenly see this as a threat to Islam when all we called for is a discourse and dialogue to stop hate speeches,” Noor Farida told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

She said all they wanted was a panel of Islamic and constitutional experts, as well as other stakeholders, to review unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in the country.

Pressed further, the former ambassador to the Netherlands said she did not want to engage in any public debate on the matter.

“It’s pointless. We do not want to engage in any debate. We just hope that the prime minister will respond, take up our proposals and then our work is done,” she said.

Abdul Rahim, a retired Home Affairs Ministry secretary-general, withdrew his support for the group, citing that the group had strayed from its objectives.

His son-in-law Azmi Arshad posted on his Facebook page to say that Abdul Rahim was concerned that things seemed to be “spinning out of control”, and that he had only agreed to give support for a letter to be sent to the prime minister requesting the appointment of a panel of experts to resolve any conflict between enacted Islamic law and civil law, and the Federal Constitution in a closed forum and not to do it publicly.

The handwritten draft to the group specified that “the one and only task is to urge the PM with the support of the silent majority to convene a gathering of experts to resolve the contentious issues” and that there is not to be any further involvement after the request regardless if Najib agreed or not.

Noor Farida said the open letter had captured the public’s imagination and was gratified that it had snowballed into tremendous support, the latest from 93 NGOs.

As such, she said they would take a back seat and let Malaysians take up the matter. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 18, 2014.