No. 4 Lorong 11/8E, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.​

Promote peaceful, rational dialogues for better unity

Sisters in Islam regrets that the organisers of the Fifth International Malaysian Studies Conference held at UPM recently felt pressured to cancel the panel on ‘Religion, Interfaith and National Unity’. We share Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM) president Prof Datuk Abdul Rahman Embong’s valid concern that certain developments of late are taking a toll on academic freedom, and have grave implications on the free flow of ideas and academic discourses on various complex issues facing our nation.

This emerging trend in suppressing the right to openly discuss matters concerning the public is disheartening, especially as it is being imposed on those who are merely peacefully practising their constitutional rights “ freedom of speech, assembly and association (Article 10) and freedom of religion (Article 11).

It should be noted that this is in contrast to the continued, unfettered dissemination of wrongful information and malicious rumours, as well as the formation of groups and alliances by those who intend to undermine the constitution and silence such open discussions.

We should take cognisance of Imam Malik’s statement that ‘Diversity of opinion is Allah’s gift to the ummah’ and any imposition of one particular opinion without public consultation would be tantamount to destroying the divine gift.

We urge all Malaysians to uphold Article 10 of our constitution that guarantees freedom of expression for all. Peaceful dialogues and rational debates should in fact, be promoted for better understanding among Malaysians.

We cannot allow violence and intimidation to be used to infringe on our basic rights, because the right to speak belongs to all Malaysians and not to a select few.

Sisters in Islam
17 August 2006