Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Woman Shares Citizenship Number With Two Others

Recently (26th January), the Daily Express reported that the National Registration Department (NRD) had made a slip-up which caused a lady to have MyKad numbers that are identical to two other Malaysians.

The MyKad which is officially known as the National Registration Identification Card is a citizenship card issued to all Malaysians. The NRD director Jainisah Mohd Noor has since apologised and assured that the woman in question will get her replacement MyKad.

The woman Tiangor Lensau, 73 of Kota Belud had initially brought her case to Kadamaian state assemblyman, Datuk Herbert Timbon Lagadan. Herbert of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has sinced hailed NRD's promptness in rectifying the matter.

But what is worrying here is the existence of two other so-called "Malaysians" with the same MyKad numbers as Tiangor. How did this happen? Are they truly Malaysians, or are they actually illegal immigrants who were issued dubious MyKads through the infamous IC Project*?

The North Borneo Herald foresees more such scenarios in future since neither the NRD nor the Home Ministry has acted on police reports against the illegal issuance of citizenship cards through the IC Project.

The Kadamaian assemblyman might have praised the NRD for their quick action in rectifying the mistake, but did he ask what are they going to do about the two other "Malaysians"? PBS during its heyday was the frontrunner when it came to raising the illegal immigrant issue, but of late have become muted to the point of one anti-illegal immigrant activist within its ranks ditching the party. The activist is none other than Dr. Chong Eng Leong who has written numerous books and articles regarding the IC Project menace.

It is hoped that PBS would continue its efforst of ridding Sabah of the illegal citizens. It is not yet too late.

*an illegal project in which foreigners were issued citizenship cards between 1980 and 1999.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1Malaysia or 2Malaysia?

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz, has made an announcement that the use of the word "Allah" among Christians would be allowed in the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Surely Sabahans and Sarawakians would be glad to hear this announcement as it would prevent any unnecessary communal tension in these two states. Christians too would be very glad that their way of practising Christianity would be unhindered by the Federal government.

However this begs the question, what has happened to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia? It seems we have two standards here, one for Malaya, and another for Sabah and Sarawak.

It would also be awkward that Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians working and studying in Malaya would have to temporarily discard the use of "Allah" as it would confuse Malayan Muslims, in case Malayan Muslims happen to be in church during services! Or Malayan Muslims would be confused when a Sabahan or Sarawakian Christian is reading the Bible, in case the Malayan Muslims happen to be in a Bible Class and "accidentally" look into the Bible!

It is very preposterous. Christians from Sabah and Sarawak are denied their right as soon as they land in Malaya. But here in Sabah we even have a public holiday for the celebration of a religion where the adherents number less than 0.5% of the state population.

We should be wondering now what has happened to the 1Malaysia espoused by our Prime Minister? All this money spent on 1Malaysia campaigns should better be used elsewhere. To create a truly 1Malaysia, what we need is acceptance.

If all Malaysians can accept each other, then we would have a truly united Malaysia. Acceptance is better than tolerance. Some of those in the ruling coalition too should practise acceptance.

If we can accept other people's differences, there would greater harmony. And it does not even cost a cent.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How Many National Languages Do We Need?

The whole controversy on the use of "Allah" has unearthed an important question for us. Is the Malay language for Muslims only?

It seems that those who are against Christians using the term are suggesting that the Malay language are not for non-Muslims. In some Malayan states, laws have been enacted to bar non-Muslims from using "Allah" and other religious terms while in Sabah a fatwa* has been issued banning Muslims from using "Allah" and many other religious terms.

When even a word like "iman" (faith) is barred from being used by non-Muslims, what does this say about the position of non-Muslims with regard to the Malay language?

It seems that those who are against Christian use of the word "Allah" would prefer another national language for non-Muslims. If this is true, then we would have one national language for the Muslims, which is Malay, and another national language for the non-Muslims which could be English.

Then we would need to have English stream schools, where non-Muslim students must attend, and Malay-medium schools where Muslims must attend.

Is this what we want? It seems as though there are those out there who would want this. If true, then why not make their voices be heard now, so that the Government can give in to their demands.

This way we would have two national languages, one for Muslims and another for non-Muslims, and those bigots out there would be very pleased that non-Muslims no longer speak Malay and therefore the possibility of them uttering certain words is eliminated.

*religious decree issued by clerics

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Home Ministry Can Make Wise Decision

For those of you who might have missed the entire story, you may read the following article which appeared in the Star, a Malayan daily last year and this other one from Associated Press, also from last year. As you may see, the Home Ministry had allowed Herald to use the word Allah, only to change its position due to demands made by certain ignorant groups. It is hoped that the Home Ministry would go back to its earlier wise decision. All hope is not yet lost.

Friday February 27, 2009
By Lourdes Charles and Loong Meng Yee

KUALA LUMPUR: The Catholic Herald magazine is permitted to use the word Allah provided the publication clearly states the words “For Christians only” in its masthead.

Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said this was stated in the recently gazetted Internal Security Act signed by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar on Feb 16.

“The next edition of the Herald will contain the word Allah, and we will print the words “For Christians only” on the masthead so as not to contravene the Act,” he said.

It is learnt the Act also forbids the use of the words Kaabah, solat and baitullah.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry’s Quran Publication Control and Text Division secretary Che Din Yusoh confirmed the content of the gazetted Act.

The High Court will today hear the mention of the case about the use of the word Allah in the Herald.

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, who is the plaintiff, had applied for a judicial review of a Home Ministry directive last year forbidding the Herald publisher from using the word Allah as a synonym for “God.”

The plaintiff’s counsel Porres Royan had argued that the directive was unlawful and that the word was not exclusive to Islam.

On Dec 5, the publisher filed a writ of summons in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek a declaration on the use of the word.

The other respondents were the Home Ministry, the Government and the state Islamic Councils of the Federal Territory, Terengganu, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Malacca and the Malaysia Chinese Muslim Association.

February 28, 2009
By Eileen Ng

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Malaysian government will issue a new decree restoring a ban on Christian publications using the word “Allah” to refer to God, officials said Sunday.

Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar said a Feb. 16 decree that let Christian publications use the word as long as they specified the material was not for Muslims was a mistake, the national Bernama news agency reported.

The about-turn came after Islamic groups slammed the government and warned that even conditional use of the word by Christians would anger Muslims in the largely Islamic country.

A senior ministry official confirmed Syed Hamid’s comments, saying there were “interpretation mistakes” in the Feb. 16 decree that led to the confusion.

“‘Allah’ cannot be used for other religions except Islam because it might confuse Muslims. This is the ministry’s stand and it hasn’t changed,” the official, who declined to be named citing protocol, told The Associated Press.

The dispute has become symbolic of increasing religious tensions in Malaysia, where 60 percent of the 27 million people are Muslim Malays. A third of the population is ethnic Chinese and Indian, and many of them practice Christianity.
Malaysia’s minorities have often complained that their constitutional right to practice their religions freely has come under threat from the Malay Muslim-dominated government. They cite destruction of Hindu temples and conversion disputes as examples. The government denies any discrimination.

The Herald, the Roman Catholic Church’s main newspaper in the country, had filed a legal suit to challenge the government ban on the word.The Herald argued that the Arabic word is a common reference for God that predates Islam and has been used for centuries as a translation in Malay.

Officials from the Herald could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Many Compromises?

The President of the Council of Justices of the Peace, Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun has urged Christians in Sabah to make a compromise for the sake of national peace.

He is urging Christians to drop the word "Allah" in Malay-language services and Malay-language Bibles. He said that though this has been the practise for so long in Sabah, for the sake of peace, Sabahan Christians should abandon it, as this has caused anger to a cerain section of extremist Muslims in Malaya.

It is so easy to call for compromise. Sabahans have compromised on far too many things since the country was merged with Malaya to form Malaysia. We had to compromise on language, education, natural resources. Finally we have someone who is asking us to compromise on the way our Christians practise the religion.

Why is that Sabahans are the one who have to compromise all the time? When was the last time Malayans had to make a compromise? We had to compromise on petroleum,letting Petronas dig the oil here and giving us back only 5% of the earnings.

We had to compromise on government departments like the Fire Department and Road Transport Department, giving them to Federal control, only to see many Malayans filling the posts there, while many Sabahan youths remained jobless.

We had to compromise on having our time changed, going back one hour behind, only to have our civil servants work the same hours as those in Malaya. We had to compromise on having religious education being taught during school hours despite our founding fathers objecting to it, only to have other religions sidelined in school.

We had to compromise on religious freedom, even though the founding fathers of Malaysia guaranteed it for us. We had to compromise on having to surrender education matters to Federal authorities, only to have many Malayans filling posts in education here, while many of our qualified youths fail to get a teaching job.

There have been just too many compromises. The problem is that Sabahans make the compromise, but the Malayans demand more and more. When does it ever stop? Today, Christians in Sabah might have to drop the usage of Allah because they burned churches. What about tomorrow? What if they demand Sabahan Christians to stop displaying crucifixes outside churches?

What if they demand that churches stop ringing bells? What if they demand more and more things which would altogether wipe out Christian faith and identity? Are we going to compromise?

During the times of Moses and Jesus in the Bibles, persecuted peoples could always migrate as borders were less controlled. Those who faced persecution in Egypt went to Israel and started a new country. Those who ran from Palestine ran away to Rome and Syria.

But where would Christians today run away to? Where could they start their own country? Perhaps Clarence Bongkos Malakun can answer this for us?

The North Borneo Herald strongly believes that dropping the word "Allah" would not be the last demand to be made by extremist groups who also seem to have found their way to Sabah. They would demand more and more as history has shown us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Church is Burned!

A fire bomb was hurled at an Assembly of God church in Desa Melawati, Selangor according to a Reuters report. The incident caused the ground floor of the church to be gutted. No one was hurt in the incident.

It seems that certain people in power have managed to fan the evil sentiments among the people which has caused this incident. This arose out of the controversy to use the word "Allah" among Christians.

Christians however are expected to react peacefully as violent reactions are not part of the Christian culture. But it leaves us wondering, what about the culture of those who perpetrated this action. Perhaps they have gods who use little of their brains. The North Borneo Herald therefore asks readers to pray for the perpetrators so that God shall touch their hearts.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Allah Issue Could Be Resolved If Opportunities Given to Sabahans/Sarawakians

As expected, the Home Ministry has decided to appeal against the decision by the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur which allowed Christians to use the word "Allah" in their religious publication.

This episode is also showing us some of the zealots in the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO). One of them is the Ministry of Defence, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who has said that Muslims might be confused by Christian usage of the word "Allah". There is an imagined fear among certain groups that this could lead Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Then there is also former Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad who said something that made little sense.

Dr.Mahathir said that though Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have used the word "Allah" since before independence, it was something new in the Peninsula (Malaya). What this forgetful ex-prime minister forgot was that many Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians are now working and studying in "his" Peninsula.

Well, if Dr.Mahathir is unhappy that there are non-Muslims in Malaya using the word "Allah", then why not suggest all Federal-government posts in Sabah and Sarawak be filled with the natives of these two states. And he should also suggest that places in all public universities in the two states also be filled with Sabahans and Sarawakians only!

That way there would be no need for Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians to go to Malaya and "influence" Muslims with their version of Allah! It seems that this old ex-prime minister is very much forgetful or "mudah lupa" in Malay! He was the one after all who refused to even allow the Sabah government to reinstate the TV Sabah broadcast back in 1990. Did many Sabahsns get to head Federal departments during his time? He even refused to accede to Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan's demand to establish a university in Sabah, only to do it after Pairin left the Mahathir government.

And Malayan Muslims too should not be allowed to work and study in Sabah and Sarawak as they might be "confused" with Allah!

This "Allah" issue has shown us some of the extremists and zealots within the ruling UMNO! It is high time that our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak got rid of them in line with his 1Malaysia policy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

High Pass Rate for Kadazandusun Subject

The Kadazandusun language paper which was offered for the first time in the 2009 Lower Secondary Assessment (PMR) recorded a 94% pass rate.

This augurs well for the subject. In 2011, the Kadazandusun language would for the first time be offered in the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) examination.

It is also heartening to note that the Federal government has decided to allow Bible Knowledge and Kadazandusun grades to count in the SPM examinations!