.- Christians from two churches in Malaysia rejected a requirement that they will need a police permit to sing Christmas carols in their parishes or homes.
Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, head of the Malaysian bishops' conference, told Vatican-based Fides news that the country will soon be in âa police stateâ if authorities continue demanding such âbureaucratic requirements.â
Two churches in Klang outside the city of Kuala Lumpur recently received notices from police asking for the names and addresses of people who were singing Christmas carols, claiming that a government mandated permit was required for those wishing to sing carols in their homes or churches.
Father Andrew Lawrence, head of the diocesan âHeraldâ newspaper, called the police action âa strict interpretationâ of current regulations on âworship and freedom of religionâ in the country.
He noted, however, that after protests by local Christians, âgovernment representatives have denied the need for such authorizations.â
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised voters in 2011 that he would overturn unpopular laws which stifle the press and allow for detentions without trial.
Instead, the Malaysian Congress sparked widespread protest after passing a new measure titled the âLaw on Peaceful Assemblyâ which enables more government control.
According to Teresa Mok, the national secretary of the Democratic Action Party, the new norm is âan abuse of power by officialsâ and âan attempt to violate religious freedom.â