PETALING JAYA - The group of 25 (G25) prominent Malays calling for rational dialogue on the position of Islam in Malaysia are unperturbed by the withdrawal of one of its signatories, saying more people have shown interest in joining the cause.
G25 organiser Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin (pic) told a news portal that Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Din's decision to pull out was "no loss" as at least 10 other distinguished Malays have expressed an interest to join the group since the publication of its open letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Dec 9.
"No, it's not a loss. I think he (Abdul Rahim) has been influenced by certain people who mistakenly see this as a threat to Islam when all we called for is a discourse and dialogue to stop hate speeches," said Noor Farida, who is former Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands.
Abdul Rahim, who is former Home Ministry secretary-general, had on Wednesday indicated that he was opting out of the group as he did not wish to be involved in debating the issue outside the panel of experts that the group wants the Prime Minister to form.
His son-in-law Azmi Arshad posted details of his conversation with Abdul Rahim, where the former civil servant is reported to have said that G25 had strayed from its original objectives.
Azmi said his father-in-law only agreed to offer support for a letter to be sent to Najib requesting for a panel of experts to resolve the contentious issues concerning Islamic laws and the Federal Constitution.
Azmi claimed that his father-in-law never agreed for a debate to be held and was "disappointed and stunned" when he found out that the letter contained this request.
"I wish therefore to have my name deleted and withdraw myself from the Group and its deliberations. I sincerely wish you all well in your endeavour," said Abdul Rahim in a letter, which Azmi posted on his Facebook page.
Noor Farida disputed Abdul Rahim's claims, saying that all the group wanted was for a panel of Islamic scholars and constitutional experts to review the application of Islamic laws in Malaysia.
She too is against the idea of a public debate on the matter. "It's pointless, we do not want to engage in any debate, we just hoped that the Prime Minister will respond, take up our proposals and then our work is done," she told the online news portal.