Liberalism And Secularism May 2009


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FAN Malaysia Replication of IAF seminar on Liberalism and Secularism.
Mr. Ong Khang Woon attended the seminar on Liberalism and Secularism at the International Academy for Leadership in Germany in October 2007. Similar to all IAF alumni, he offered to replicate the seminar in order to share what he learned from the academy to local audience. He said that “apart from knowledge sharing, the replication also aims to raise awareness and relate the topic “liberalism and secularism” to local context”.

The seminar provided basic information on the concepts of Liberalism and Secularism followed by the relationship between the two concepts. The presentation was followed by video presentation titled “At the Crossroads – Malaysia” which focused on conversion and conversion related issues like child custody, enforcing public morality and the legal systems in Malaysia.

Discussion during the group work in the afternoon was fruitful. There was a good combination between theoretical background on the topic and how one can apply the concepts in the current situation.

FAN Malaysia was formed in March 2006 after the first alumni meeting held in Kuala Lumpur. The main aim of FAN is to promote liberalism through replication of training and other activities.

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Liberalism And Secularism May 2009

  1. 1. Liberalism and Secularism Replication of IAF seminar Kelantan, 30 May 2009
  2. 2. Liberalism <ul><li>What is Liberalism? </li></ul><ul><li>Liberalism is a political philosophy that considers individual liberty and equality to be the most important political goals. </li></ul><ul><li>The main fundamental of a liberal society is freedom. </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  3. 3. Equality before law For liberals, equality means Respect for different traditions and lifestyles* Best opportunity for all * No enforced preferences !
  4. 4. Equality and Liberty Human Rights Liberal Democracy Rule of Law Free Market Freedom
  5. 5. Liberalism <ul><li>Political freedom allows people to exercise their rights: reducing the possibility of power abuse by those in power. </li></ul><ul><li>Economic freedom promotes free market. Competition directs resources and energies towards their most efficient use and spurs innovation. </li></ul><ul><li>The rule of law safeguards individual freedom from infringements and ensures that political and economic freedoms are exercised within clear and enforced boundaries. </li></ul>
  6. 6.   Conservatism Liberalism Material equality Social responsibility The common goals Classless society Solidarity Public ownership Values Socialism Tradition Duty Hierarchy Discipline Freedom Tolerance Choice Responsibility Entrepreneurship Competition Rule of law Redistribution Property Endowment Charity Social justice Authority Order Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  7. 7. John Locke, 1632 - 1704 A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) Liberal conceptions of religion
  8. 8. John Locke’s Religious Toleration <ul><li>Locke responded to the problem of religion and government by proposing religious toleration as the answer. </li></ul><ul><li>Argument: more religious groups actually prevent civil unrest. Civil unrest results from confrontations caused by any magistrate's attempt to prevent different religions from being practiced, rather than tolerating their proliferation. </li></ul>
  9. 9. John Locke’s Religious Toleration <ul><li>Religious toleration is the condition of accepting or permitting others' religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own. </li></ul><ul><li>In a country with a state religion, toleration means that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers of other faiths. </li></ul>
  10. 10. John Locke’s Religious Toleration <ul><li>The use of force by the state to get people to hold certain beliefs is illegitimate. </li></ul><ul><li>Men are by nature free and equal against claims that God has made all people naturally subject to a monarch. </li></ul>
  11. 11. John Locke’s Religious Toleration <ul><li>People have rights such as the right to life, liberty and property that have a foundation independence of the laws of any particular society. </li></ul><ul><li>Religious societies are voluntary organisations that have no right to use coercive power over their own members or those outside their group. </li></ul>
  12. 12. David Hume 1711 - 1776 Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779)
  13. 13. David Hume on Religion, Morality and Reason <ul><li>Uniform experience of natural law outweighs the testimony of any alleged miracle. </li></ul><ul><li>We do not need religion as a fundamental of morality. </li></ul><ul><li>Morality should be based on sympathy and interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Reason is more important than belief. </li></ul><ul><li>Hume did not believe that there is any true religion. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Adam Smith, 1723 - 1790 An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)
  15. 15. Adam Smith on Religion and Competition <ul><li>Religion would prosper in a free and open religious market where men and women could choose among contending faiths. </li></ul><ul><li>Competition is a remedy against dangerous political influence of religion and against fanatism. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Secularism: What is it? Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  17. 17. Its origin <ul><li>The Enlightenment, by recognising human freedom as one of its own concerns, sought to reduce the influence of religious law and the church over society and to enable peaceful coexistence of people with different beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>Natural law accepted that human beings were separate individual capable of independent thought, and were able to make rational decisions in their best interests. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Secularism: What is it? <ul><li>It advocates religious liberty and the separation of state and religion. </li></ul><ul><li>It refers to a belief that human actions and decisions should be based on reasons and common sense rather than religious beliefs and influence. </li></ul><ul><li>Secular states would allow religious differences </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  19. 19. Separation of State and Religion <ul><li>The state must guarantee religious liberty to its citizens i.e. the freedom of religious belief, freedom of worship – within the limits of the rule of law. The state must not give preference to one religion over another. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Separation of State and Religion <ul><li>Impartiality is a prerequisite for the rule of law which guarantees that the law is impartial, it is not based on any religion dogmas and that all citizens are equal before the law regardless of their beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>Neutrality requires that the state must not neither favour nor disfavour religion as such. </li></ul><ul><li>Not only that state must not interfere in religion and religious affairs but also that the church must not influence the government. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Secularism and the liberal commitment to freedom, rights, tolerance and rule of law <ul><li>Secularism is one of the fundamental components of a liberal democracy and a precondition for the flourishing of human rights. </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  22. 22. Secularism and the liberal commitment to freedom, rights, tolerance and rule of law <ul><li>It requires tolerance and reject any kind of discrimination based on religious beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>It requires freedom to shape one’s life in accordance with one’s own beliefs and privacy – the private sphere in which the individual can flourish. </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  23. 23. Rule of Law without Secularism? <ul><ul><li>Equality implies that the rights are not to be discriminated against one’s grounds of ethnic or religion. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where a formal constitution exists, all laws must be in accordance with the constitution and not violate the liberties and rights enshrined therein </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An independent judiciary , a prerequisite for the rule of law </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Rule of Law without Secularism? <ul><ul><li>Proceeding in a court of law must be fair and follow certain rules that serve to promote a fair hearing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The presumption of innocence until proven guilty </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The establishment of guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Investigation and trails in different hands, the prosecutor and the judge should be different persons </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trials are public and all evidence and instruments of proof subject to public scrutiny </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The right to legal counsel on the part of the accused </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Political rights and civil liberties without secularism? <ul><li>“ Everyone has the right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”. </li></ul><ul><li>Article 18 of the UDHR </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  26. 26. Political Rights and civil liberties without secularism? <ul><li>Relationship between religion and rights matters </li></ul><ul><li>Rights take precedence over religious laws because </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only the former apply to all citizens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They protect those who disagree </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Right to non-discrimination implies that no group may claim privilege or preferential treatment </li></ul>
  27. 27. Political Rights and civil liberties without secularism? <ul><li>The state is the realm of rights: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The state has the task of protecting rights as specified in the Constitution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rights protect the citizens vis-à-vis the state </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The state is there for all citizens and hence to protect the rights of all citizens – whereas religions are only there for those who subscribe to its beliefs </li></ul>
  28. 28. Political Rights and civil liberties without secularism? <ul><li>There is no priority for religion. Believers and non-believers must be treated equally. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Political rights and civil liberties without secularism <ul><li>Freedom and Responsibility: Cartoon controversy published in the Denish newspaper </li></ul><ul><li>If a person want to maximise freedom or to defend their religion at the expense of others, many people will suffer </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  30. 30. Political rights and civil liberties without secularism <ul><li>The UDHR refers to the two main actors of the cartoon controversy i.e. the media, religious leaders and politicians. </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  31. 31. Political rights and civil liberties without secularism <ul><li>Article 14 states that “the freedom of the media goes hand in hand with a particular responsibility for precise and true reporting. Sensational reports which violates persons or human dignity must always be avoided. </li></ul><ul><li>Article 15 states describes the responsibility of religious leaders to “neither incite nor legitimate hatred, fanaticism or religious wars </li></ul>Liberalism and Secularism, Kelantan, 30 th May 2009
  32. 32. Secularism in Malaysia? <ul><li>What does it mean in the local context? </li></ul><ul><li>How can the concept be applied locally? </li></ul>