Ramadhan Dialogue: “The Future of Freedom of Religion in Malaysia Post-GE 15”

🗓 Join us for our Ramadhan Dialogue!

Registration link: http://bit.ly/RamadhanDialogue


In January 2019, Southeast Asia Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (SEAPFoRB), a working group of parliamentarians set up under the joint FoRB project of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights – APHR and the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) undertook a fact-finding mission of international parliamentarians to Malaysia to assess the situation of the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), and how the political climate has changed since Pakatan Harapan government took office in 2018.

The findings of the mission corroborate SEAPFoRB’s initial assessment that as a Muslim majority country, the protection of FoRB especially for religious minorities in Malaysia remains a challenge despite a few recent positive developments.

In view of the above, SEAPForB, in collaboration with Komuniti Muslim Universal Malaysia – KMU (KMU) and Sisters In Islam (SIS) are motivated to organise a Ramadhan Dialogue aimed at fostering collaboration between parliamentarians, faith and CSO leaders to strengthen the protection of FoRB in Malaysia.


Panel of Speakers:

YB Charles Santiago | MP of Klang / ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)

YB Charles Santiago is a Malaysian member of parliament for Klang constituency in Selangor, for the Democratic Action Party (DAP). He was first elected to parliament in 2008, and is Chairman of the Select Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs. Prior to his election he was an economist, and worked for non-governmental organisations, including as chairman of the National Water Services Commission. He is the chairperson of APHR and a regular commentator on regional issues.


YB Hanipa Maidin | MP of Sepang

YB Hanipa Maidin is the current MP of Sepang since May 2013. He is a member of the National Trust Party (AMANAH). He was a former Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs during the Pakatan Harapan administration. He is an advocate and solicitor, called to the bar in 1994 and has opened his own firm Mohamed Hanipa & Associates since 1997. YB Hanipa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law (LL.B (Hons)) and Shariah (LL.B (SHA)(Hons)) from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.


Shareena Sheriff | Sisters in Islam (SIS)

Shareena Sheriff is a Programme Manager for Advocacy, Legal Services and Research in Sisters in Islam, Shareena is involved in work relating to injustices experienced by women as a result of biased laws, policies and institutional structures. Areas include critical analysis of Islamic Laws, political Islam, women’s rights in the family and in the public sphere and gender equality for women. Her team operates Telenisa, a helpline provided free of charge for Muslims requiring legal advise under Islamic Family Laws. Shareena is a lawyer by training with over 20 years of experience. Her career focus has centred on policy and law reform as well as strategic planning.


Aizat Shamsuddin | Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU Malaysia)

Aizat Shamsuddin is a project coordinator of Komuniti Muslim Universal since 2015. His research and experience are focused on the prevention of extremism, counterterrorism and human rights. He received an Australia Awards scholarship by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and ASEAN in 2018, and subsequently a master’s degree from the University of Melbourne specialising in counterterrorism, conflict studies and political Islam in 2020. Aizat also holds a bachelor’s degree in Sharia and Law from the Islamic Science University of Malaysia.


Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri | Christian Federation of Malaysia

Reverend Dr. Hermen Shastri is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church and currently serves as General Secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia. He also served as the Executive Secretary of the Christian Federation of Malaysia for 11 years. He serves on numerous committees in the country including the Malaysian Consultative Council of Bhuddism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism and Taoism and in the World Council of Churches as member of the Standing Commission of Faith and Order, Co-Moderator of WCC Faith and Order 2014-2022. A consultant to the Department of Interreligious Relations and Dialogue. Since 2010, as a Co-Chairman on Issues Among Religious Adherents of the Ministry of Unity of the Government of Malaysia.


Desi Hanara | ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)

Desi is the Regional Coordinator for a joint project of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and the International Panel of Parliamentarians on Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) on FoRB. She has led the establishment of a Southeast Asia Parliamentarians on FoRB (SEAPFoRB), comprising of 34 parliamentarians and politicians from Southeast Asia. She has coordinated the undertaking of fact-finding missions on FoRB to Indonesia and Malaysia; provided various resources and capacity building for parliamentarians on FoRB; and implemented policy dialogues related to mitigation of religious tensions, tackling online religious hate speech and legislating religious freedom in most countries in the region. In February 2019, the Project was selected to be featured at the UN Headquarter in New York, showcasing the successful works of the project in empowering parliamentarians to safeguard FoRB protection in Southeast Asia.


Moderated by: 

Dr. Azmil Tayeb | University Sains Malaysia (USM)

Dr. Azmil is a political scientist who has done extensive research on Islamic politics and social movements, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. Previously he was a Fulbright fellow based at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in South Kalimantan, Indonesia and an Erasmus Mundus fellow based at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. He was also a recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Graduate Assistantship and the Australian National University’s doctoral research scholarship. His book “Islamic Education in Indonesia and Malaysia: Shaping Minds, Saving Souls” was published by Routledge in 2018. The book won the Colleagues’ Choice Award for Social Science at the 2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) in Leiden, Netherlands. He is also the Secretary and Exco member of Aliran, a long-time peace and social justice organization.