13 July 2013

The government has been urged to close down the Vatican City embassy in Malaysia and expel the ambassador Archbishop Joseph Marino for interfering in domestic affairs.

Utusan Malaysia reported that a coalition of Malay non-governmental organisations said strong measures were needed against Marino for misusing his diplomatic immunity.

"Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic ties, Marino has clearly overstepped his authority as an ambassador by interfering in the domestic affairs of Malaysia," said Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin.

A spokesman for the coalition of NGOs, Nasharudin Mat Isa, a former PAS deputy president, said Marino's support for the local Catholic Church to use the word "Allah" was unacceptable.

"Archbishop Marino has intentionally made a statement which could create anxiety among the public and threaten unity among Malaysians," Nasharudin claimed.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has been urged to summon the envoy to Wisma Putra and demand an explanation for the remarks he made.

Nasharudin said Archbishop Marino's statement was at odds with the official stand of the Malaysian government and had been intentionally made, especially in light of the fasting month.

The coalition of NGOs includes Yayasan Nassar, Pertubuhan Jalur Tiga (Jati), Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat), Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

Also included are Gabungan Pertubuhan-Pertubuhan Pembela Islam (Pembela), Kelab Wartawan Muda Malaysia (KWMM) and Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM).

Marino, in his first interview as the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican equivalent to an ambassador, to Malaysia, had stirred controversy with his comments pertaining to the use of the word "Allah".

He stated his support for the stand of the Catholic Church in Malaysia and applauded the arguments made by the Christian Federation of Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Jati deputy president Datuk Aidit Ghazali said Archbishop Marino's actions could have serious repercussions on the country if the government did not take action against the ambassador.

"The issue of using the word 'Allah' is an extremely sensitive issue for Muslims in the country."

Muafakat president Ismail Mina Ahmad said the envoy was not a very smart person for discussing a domestic Malaysian subject, which was still under the purview of the courts.

"We understand that his presence here was supposed to strengthen the ties of understanding between Muslims and Christians, but it has turned out to be the opposite." - July 14, 2013.



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