Friday, January 28, 2011

Time Non-Muslim Ministers Stand Up

Recently, Sabah Progressive Party(SAPP)'s vice-presidednt, Amde Sidek voiced concern over the building of the Faith Rehabilitation Centre in Kinarut.

It is indeed very courageous of him as a Muslim to speak out against it. Unfortunately Kadazandusun and Murut politicians who are not Muslims including those who sit in the state cabinet choose to be mum over the issue.

Perhaps they do not wish to interfere in issues which they may consider an Islamic problem. The fact is, when people are detained for converting to another religion, then it is no longer an Islamic issue. What if a person converts from Islam to Christianity? Then the authorities would be detaining a person who belongs to the Christian faith.

And when non-Muslim politicians say they are doing something about it, but not wanting their efforts to be published, we should also be wondering. Why is it that those who trample on non-Muslim rights can freely have their intentions published, but those wish to defend the non-Muslims cannot do so? Is it cowardice? Or is it because these politicians are afraid of losing their positions if they speak out.

There have been many issues affecting non-Muslims in recent years but the number of non-Muslim politicians speaking out is few and at times non-existent. In the case of the "Allah" issue not a single one spoke out save for Tan Sri Bernard Dompok of the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun-Murut Organization (UPKO). But that was not enough.

When the Federal Court denied Lina Joy, a Christian the right to be called a Christian, still the leaders kept quiet.

But see what happened when the High Court ruled that Christians had the right to use the word "Allah". Many Muslims including ministers spoke out against the decision.

It is time the non-Muslim leaders in Sabah and Sarawak woke up and rally together as one voice to speak out against all these injustices. If only they spoke out as one voice, even the government-owned media will not be able to ignore them. This is because several ministers speaking out against injustices at the same time and together will surely attract foreign media, both print and electronic.

This should not be seen as going against the government, but should be seen as protecting the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 from irresponsibe people.

The question is: for the sake of the non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak, will the leaders of these communities willing to come together and speak against the current injustices? And do they have the guts to stand up for their people?

Saying they are already doing something about it is not enough. It proves nothing. We need to see press statements coming from this leaders, not one leader but all these leaders.

1. Ban on the word "Allah" for Christians
2. Restrictions on the Malay-language Bible and Malay-language Christian literature.
3. Edicts against building of non-Muslim statues in public places.
4. Mazu statue.
5. Building of Faith Rehabilitation Centre and enforcement of anti-apostasy laws.

Friday, January 21, 2011

PM Says Religious Freedom Shows Fairness

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today that the religious freedom practised in the country shows that the government is fair to all. Najib said that the government's stand in maintaining racial and religious harmony could be seen through the One Malaysia concept which is based on unity. He said this when addressing a crowd at a Hindu celebration in the northern Malayan state of Kedah.

It seems that the our Prime Minister is finally serious in upholding religious freedom in the country. This means now, Muslims who want to convert to other religiouns may be free to do so. It also means the government will no longer object to Malay-speaking Christians using the word "Allah". It will also mean that senior posts in the government will no longer be reserved for Muslims.

People like Revathi Masoosai and Lina Joy who have previously failed in their attempts to convert out of Islam will now be free to do so. Non-Muslim school principals with excellent track records may now be able to head state education departments. Non-Muslim religious programmes may also now be broadcast on radio and television. Subjects like Bible Knowledge will now be allowed to be taught within school hours. Non-Muslim places of worship will no longer be mercilessly demolished.

The Prime Minister should be commended for his commitment to religious freedom. From his speech it is clear that Malaysia is finally stepping through the door to true religious freedom. Kudos to the Prime Minister.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Irrational Reaction by Extremist Minority

Hundreds of protesters burned efigies and demonstrated against a person who complained against a mosque in Kampung Kerinchi, Kuala Lumpur. The man had apparently complained that the loudspeakers used by the mosque was too loud.

It was alleged that some of the demonstrators even called for the complainant's housed to be burned down. Thankfully this complainant was reported to be alligned to a member of the ruling coalition, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). Or else, the issue would have been politicised. But then again, there is no guarantee that this issue would not be politicised as some politicians are extremely sly.

Looking at this news report, we should be thankful that the Christian community was mature and calm when certain extremists called for the ban on the use of the word "Allah" in Christian worship. Even when terrorists burned down a church in Kualau Lumpur, the Christian community exercised calm and maturity.

And recently, when news went around that a Christian church was asked to take off crucifixes from walls during the visit of a very senior politician, the Christians still remained calm.

This shows that the Christian community in Malaysia are extremely rational and calm. In fact, when a Malayan-based newspaper published an insulting cartoon of Jesus holding a beer bottle, the Christian church was willing to forgive the newspaper.

Let us hope that the narrow-minded and adrenalin-driven immature demonstrators in Kuala Lumpur could also be more mature and forgiving. The North Borneo Herald believes this group of demonstrators do not represent all Muslims. The Lembah Pantai Member of Parliament (MP) Nurul Izzah Anwar was a reflection of a true Muslim when she urged Muslims to be calm in the incident.