Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Suhakam Says Money Incentives To Convert Orang Asli An Abuse Of Power

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said Wednesday that the monetary incentives offered by the Kelantan government to convert orang asli to Islam is an abuse of power.

It is wrong to use state funds as a marriage reward, said Suhakam economic, social and cultural rights working committee chairman Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria in a statement. "The utilisation of state resources as a motivation for preachers to convert orang asli women by marriage is an abuse of power and violation of the basic right, especially the freedom of thought, conscience and religion by monetary inducement," he said.

He said the state should instead help empower this poorest community through economic activities which will enhance their income, improve educational opportunities and develop their human potential to ensure them a better quality of life.

The Kelantan government announced on Monday a reward of RM10,000 to each Muslim preacher who marries an orang asli woman and converts her. The same incentive applies to a woman preacher who takes an orang asli husband. The preachers will also receive free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a monthly allowance of RM1,000.

"Inducement or reward for conversion, especially of very vulnerable and marginalised women in Malaysian society, is unethical and unacceptable even from any religious perspectives," added Dr Denison. He said his committee would review the matter and present the findings to the commission for further action.


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7:34 PM GMT+8  

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