Archive for the 'religious freedom' Category

18
Dec
07

Very difficult meh?

Kuala Lumpur, (PTI): A day after ethnic Indian activists sought setting up of a Non-Muslim Affairs department, Malaysia on Monday said it was “difficult” to meet the demand as Islam is the country’s only official religion.

Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, however, said that absence of such a dedicated department did not mean that the government had forsaken other religious communities in this predominantly Islamic country.

Link: The Hindu News Update service 

Accepting momentarily, for the sake of argument, that a non-Muslim affairs department is a good way to address the grievances that Non-Muslims face in a multi-religious society, I don’t see Najib’s reasoning here.

As he has said it, I think it is precisely because-rather than in spite of-Islam being Malaysia’s official religion  that such a department needs to be set, if it even ought to be set up. Even more so, if we observe that an overwhelming majority of the country religious faithful are Muslims.

Any casual observer will note that the Hindu community wants an assurance that the government is looking out for them. Thus the call for such a dedicated government department. If that is the wish of those activists, then why is Malaysia’s official religion a barrier to setting up  such a department? Is it un-Islamic to have a government that looks out for all its peoples?

But I think the more subtle point is that already the Hindu community views itself and cornered in by four walls, such that they begin to compare themselves with the Orang Asli community. A very dangerous and unhealthy view, IMHO.
Obviously this is not a political answer to give, and for better or worse, Najib is right to discourage such views.

Certainly he (Najib) is correct to point out that the government doesn’t need a dedicated department to look after every Malaysian’s rights. That should be the first thing on every MPs agenda, more so on every minister’s actions. And when necessary, protecting the minority rights must be every judges priority. However, as we know, reality is not so rosy.

So why then-this is something I must ask those who want a extra department (and another layer of human incompetence)- is a Jabatan Hal-Ehwal Bukan Islam going to solve all the injustice and grievances that has been perpetrated so far?

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08
Sep
07

Funny isn’t it, how one man is idolized

No, I really not against appealing to God for a little hand in a speedy recovery.

Ex-PM Tun Mahathir is recovering from a heart bypass op. He is 82 years old but it seems that he will make it. The man is made of tougher guts than many of us.

Which is why I find this rather unsettling.

Is it needful? Does it need to be public? And as I looked down the comments, it is as though this event is designed to provoke the consternation of some members of the blogging public.

I give you one thing though, the Malaysian’s blogosphere is as far away from Singaporean blogging in one respect- religiosity.

05
Sep
07

Terrorism

As I came back from work university, CNN is on the TV and they are blaring on the recent terror plots busted in Germany, Denmark etc…

Only a few days ago, tragedy shook Islamabad when bombs exploded killing 27 people in Pakistan.

Is this media bias?

It may not be so, but the temptation is that the news networks cannot resist is to associate Islam with terrorism. This is perhaps unfortunate.

This is perhaps one period in my life since 9/11 that both Islam and terrorism have been juxtaposed so much until tempers are raised and countries divided. In New York, a recent controversy erupted over the opening of an Arabic school.

One wonders how much of this is fear is justified,  or how much of it is an excuse just feel superior. Even in Malaysia, things are not going so well with regards to the relationship Islam has with non-Muslims. This needn’t be so. Farish A Noor tells us why.

14
Aug
07

So what if Gandalf is Gay?

Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf the Gay Gray in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings visited Singapore recently to play King Lear in Shakespeare’s King Lear. CNA interviewed him and over Singapore national television announced that,

It’s not exactly okay to sodomize your male partner in Singapore too, much less have oral sex. It’s a criminal offense. So what do you do when an actor as magnetic as Ian comes to do theater in Singapore? You shut up and let him do what he does best: wow Singaporean audiences.

Singapore’s tourism strategy is to promote itself as an epicenter for arts and culture in this region.

Seems that Malaysia is not spared from embarrassing encounters with the rainbow league too. But this is much much more than a friendly trip down to the playhouse. Rev. Ouyang plans to open a church here in Malaysia and has held his first service in a hotel here.

The pastor is homosexual and open about it.

Of course, the mainstream tabloids newspapers did a story and he seems to be public enemy no. 1 after

Muslim-majority Malaysia will block a plan by the country’s first and only openly gay pastor to establish a church embracing homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals, a minister said on Monday.

Reverend Ouyang Wen Feng, an ethnic Chinese Malaysian ordained in the US, caused controversy after saying he wanted to set up the church by 2010.

The government would block the plan, Tourism Minister Adnan Tengku Mansor told AFP, adding the country had always sought to portray itself as a “family-oriented” holiday destination.

“We have no intention of being portrayed the same way like other cities such as Bangkok or those other cities in that league,” Mansor said, apparently referring to the Thai capital’s sex industry.

Whatever our views towards being gay, being a pastor and running churches, you must admit that what Mansor said is quite undiplomatic (towards Thailand).

That aside, what concerns me more however is highlighted in bold. Is it right for the government to intervene into an internal religious affair concerning Christians? Back off Mansor, opening a church has nothing to do with tourism.

Dangerous precedents in the making.

09
Jun
07

Defending the defenceless…

There is a village in Kelantan named Kampung Jias. It is an Orang Asli settlement. Orang Asli are the native inhabitants on the Malay peninsular.

Something happened there that saddened me greatly.  But I am not a good storyteller as Bob Kee. He is perhaps more fitting to tell what happened there and is happening.

On June 4, 2007, a building erected by the Orang Asli on customary and traditional lands for use by their own community to serve as a place of worship was demolished by the Gua Musang District Land Office of Kelantan.

He has followed up with another more recent post detailing the whole incident and what is going to be done about it.

A police report has been filed on the matter and I pray that the police force will be impartial in investigating this case. The said place of worship was a Christian church to be built on the penghulu’s own orchard.

There is something to be said about a country where the local authorities are “free” to intimidate the less educated and less economically able. Although we have not seen the end of the whole incident yet, I can smell the rat already.

Will everybody entranced over the Altantuya Murder Trials, this incident won’t make even the 7th page on the news dailies. But honestly, as a concerned citizen, this is of more importance. Not only because I am with my Christian brothers in prayer, but because I cannot just sit back and watch someone get bullied right in front of me. Can you?

31
May
07

What the Federal court’s decision on apostasy means to me (and to all of us).

As you all have probably known, the Federal Court ruled yesterday that Lina Joy has to get the Sharia court to endorse her conversion out of Islam in order for her to remove the word ‘Islam’ on her I/C.

This is my opinion on the matter.  I am a Christian.
It is kinda ironic that I’m writing about Christian-Islam relations on a Wesak day. But I first knew about the Lina Joy case about 5 years back. My first impressions was that she was a very brave lady. Many Malay Christians have opted for a quieter life. Without trying to diminish the sacrifices other converts from Islam have made, but I have to say I admire her for what she did and believed.

To me she believed that every man and woman is responsible for their own choices. Lina Joy, born a Malay as Azlina Jailani must have believed that religion is a personal choice.  You do not inherit your religion from your parents.

Now this may be almost an axiom for most of us. Contemporary opinion has it that religion is a private matter.

Unfortunately, in Malaysia, the majority Malay population who happen to be Muslim do not think so. Islam is a way of life- a total way of life. One from which there is no turning away. It is the logical outcome of a faith convinced of its truth and a religion in which there is no separation between the private and public life.

Irregardless of Lina’s personal reasons for battling this case all the way to the highest court in Malaysia,  one thing is certain: Because of the majority Malay sentiment and the majority court decision, she has to continue to live in fear and in hiding. Her right to live freely has been curtailed whilst others live normally. Isn’t this injustice? How apt for a secular court to pronounce a ‘prison sentence’ of sorts for an apostate from Islam. 

Recent incidents, including Lina Joy’s case has made me realize there are two, perhaps three, parrallel societies happening to live in Malaysia. One is a sophisticated, liberal and almost secular people give and take a little religion here and there, another is the Islamic community-and the last, the poor. The classification is crude, but will serve my point nonetheless.

The point is identity. Who are you? The court thinks, and most Malays think that she (Lina) is a Malay and therefore a Muslim. She thinks she is no longer a part of the Islamic community by the simple virtue that she has made a choice based on conscience. The question is whose thinking will the court uphold? We have seen here that the judges think that the former is correct.

I believe that the 2-1 decision against Lina’s favour was the wrong one, as I have argued above. I think it was a cowardly decision. As it was not an unanimous decision I can see there is within the constitution a case for non-Muslim Malays. It is easy to hide behind technicalities to preserve the ‘peace’. Brawn and intimidation instead of reason and liberty has won the day, and it is a sad day it is.

I’m reminded of a Malay proverb: Diberi betis, nakkan peha. This is so true in Malaysian life, either overtly or subversively. 

11
May
07

I’m a Muslim. Period.

From Screenshots,

mahathir.jpg

I remember when I was still in secondary school, my awareness of how this country was being run was still rather shallow. Ok, so it was the Anwar episode and it sort of opened my eyes to the excesses of Yours Truly. But I was just out prove to my best friend that I was politically sophisticated…

That was in the past.

Nevertheless, there hasn’t been much to celebrate about in the past 10 years. First, the financial crisis, Reformasi crisis, Mahathir’s threat to stepping down, 9/11, Mahathir stepping down, Badawi’s sweeping victory, Badawi’s Islam Hadhari, Badawi’s loss of his wife, Mahathir’s barbed criticism, crisis in higher education, crisis in press freedom, inter racial and inter religious tensions…

Ever noticed that since Abdullah’s articulation of Islam Hadhari as the central core of his political beliefs,
Malaysian’s have been living in more fear and tension?

Seems that his version of ‘progressive and moderate’ Islam while looking nice on paper, doesn’t seem to have the desired effect in practice.

There is one other political system that has the same characteristics. It’s called Marxism.
Mahathir’s takes one more shot at AB in that interview with Malaysiakini. But the more pertinent question we ought to be asking ourselves even more is this:

Why is it that so many Muslim’s are becoming more and more backward in their outlook and interpretation to the Koran? Has it got anything to do with Mahathir’s “Islamic state” proclamation and AB’s “Islam Hadhari” combined?




About me

moogleBorn and bred in KL, Malaysia. Now studying for his Phd in Singapore. Learning to walk one fall at a time.
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