by KJ John
Jan 28, 2014
First there was the assertion that there exists an attempt by Christians to make Penang a Christian state; simply because the chief minister is reputed to be a Christian. No evidence was ever found or elicited for these unfounded rumours. The perpetrators of the crime were not charged. I believe they were Umno-linked bloggers.
Now there are ‘Jesus the son of Allah’ banners which, frankly, no Christian would ever make. The reason is simple: If we do, the whole sentence would be in Malay; never in English with the Arabic ‘Allah’ word. What will come next? Maybe a ‘Melayu balik kampung’ banner which then sparks another round of racial riot rumours, or pig-heads into mosques?
These were standard tactics since 1969 in Penang but it was stopped in good time because of the then chief police officer’s (CPO) quick response and actions?
But he was an outstanding Special Branch (SB) officer well-trained in the matters of psychological warfare, but there are no such people any more, since our communist threat is no more. Our current CPOs are only of one race and religion.
Today, police officers appear to pursue their partisan agenda against both citizens and foreigners alike. People are losing faith in the so-called ‘not-so-royal police force’, but which however does not act against Umno extremists. Selective persecution and prosecution seems the order of the day today.
All these rumours when printed and taken up by both mainstream and even the sidestream media, become almost facts, and then the truth of matters. I would have thought there is a law against such rumour mongering. We also witnessed such abuse of print media before the 13th general election (GE13).
Consequently, and because of our lack of faith in both the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, some of us with the Media Group @ MiDAS took the initiative to make a formal and written complaint to Suhakam about mainstream media distorting truth and promoting lies through advertorials; basically distorting truths and reporting untruths.
To Suhakam’s credit, I believe that they called a formal meeting with all media to address the issue last week. We await the follow up action from Suhakam.
But, why are the media lying instead of telling and promoting truths and facts? What do I mean? On the ‘Allah’ issue; do Malaysians not really know that the first and original version of the Bahasa Melayu version of the Matthew’s Gospel was translated in 1621 by a Dutch scholar named AC Ruyl?
The originals are still available at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Cambridge. By 1733, the first Malay Bible was complete and the word ‘Allah’ was consistently used.
Are these newspaper editors really ignorant and condone their journalists to choose to spread lies and not state the facts. Do they not know that Sabahans and Sarawakians had Malay Bibles well before Malaysia was formed in 1963? Furthermore, do not the same idiocratic editors not know that under the 18 and 20 point demands before the Malaysia Agreement was voted upon, these states had clearly clarified that Islam is not the religion of these states?
Dr Tajuddin’s proposal and Dr Patricia’s response
In a recent article submitted by Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, he sought to argue that Christians as a community should apply their love in action and learn to “turn the other cheek on this matter!” In reply, Dr Patricia Martinez has responded well on this issue. While his is a very noble and commendable effort, I think it is flawed both theologically and rationally.
Let me try and explain to my good friend and academic colleague why this is not feasible for the same factual reasons of misinformation:
The ‘Allah’ issue is a bigger issue for bumiputra Christians of Sabah and Sarawak worshipping in Malay. Most peninsular Christians worshipping in English have no issue about this word and its non-usage. We would ordinarily not use the ‘Allah’ word unless when singing Malay songs or hymns;
The East Malaysian brothers and sisters, on the other hand, whose mother tongue is Malay, make up about 65 percent of all Malaysian Christians of about 3 million citizens. Their language of heart worship is Bahasa Melayu. Nonetheless, peninsular Christians cannot speak for them;
They voted and elected, as moderated by the UN, to support the formation of Malaysia but under certain explicit conditions, which cannot be violated now;
The peninsular Malays have to instead be educated about the root of the ‘Allah’ word, and that the de-sacralisation of the name of Jesus, as ‘son of Allah’, is totally in bad taste and does not even make for good theology; and
The Christians worshipping in Malay use only the Malay Bible and have been using it since their days of the grandparents. They hardly even mix Malay and English and no English Bible would ever carry the word Arabic word ‘Allah.’
Conclusion and way forward
Bumiputra Christians, whether from Sabah or Sarawak, have and will always use their heart language to worship in Malay. It is their heart language and mother tongue, and cannot be changed or imposed even through theologically sound teaching, like turning the other cheek, even if it is well-communicated and well reflects Christian-type unconditional love.
Frankly, all this seems to reflect a clear and focussed agenda by some unscrupulous groups to create trouble through fear and uncertainty, but have we not learned that citizens in cities and towns today are more rational and cannot be so easily misled. There is another danger though, that all the ordinary and good hearted citizens may all get upset and decide to turn against the groups that are spreading such evil ideas and antics.
Let us not however respond to fire with fire, because once fire begets more fire and once a wildfire starts, we will all have some serious issue to deal with. I am not sure the security forces are really prepared to deal with these issues. It is better to deal with these issues before the real problems start.
Let us nip these symptoms in the bud; but that requires a police force that is indeed called to serve the public interest, not partisan interests. Let us all make March a month for prayer for good sense in this nation. May God bless Malaysia.
KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at [email protected] with any feedback or views.