Archive for category Religion

Multi-religious society: Destructive or constructive?

Dyana Sofya
The Malay Mail Online
May 15, 2015

MAY 15 — Last month, I had the honour of being selected to participate in the Australia-Malaysia Institute (AMI) Muslim Exchange Programme Visit.

The purpose of the programme was for us, the participants, to discover different perspectives on current cultural issues in an increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-religious migrant society such as Australia.

Through the programme, we were also able to exchange ideas and experiences with various communities there.

As the main objective of the programme was to broaden our understanding of inter-community relations, the state of Victoria was an obvious place to visit. Victorians originated from more than 200 countries, speak more than 230 languages and dialects, and follow more than 130 religious faiths. While their origins couldn’t be anymore diverse, they all migrated with one aspiration in mind – to find a better life for themselves and their children.

A memorable highlight of the visit was when we had afternoon tea and lamingtons (a traditional Australian treat of sponge cake squares coated in chocolate and grated coconut) at a kosher café in Balaclava.

As interesting as the lamingtons were, we were more enthralled by the conversation we had with Abraham, a rabbi and Mohsin, an imam. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Your faith may be weak, but mine isn’t

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
24 April 2015

I am a Muslim and a Malaysian who has no problem with other religions displaying their religious symbols. As a matter of fact, I have no problem sitting down and having a cup of coffee with my non-Muslim friends in a “kedai kopi Cina”, or having them eat in front of me during Ramadhan because my faith will not shatter into pieces, by the temptations of such petty things.

I know I am not the only one, and that there are countless other Malaysian Muslims who were repulsed by the idiocy displayed, in Taman Medan a few days ago. Malaysians aren’t stupid – even if the powers that be are adamant about keeping us dim-witted and daft.

We don’t need to be reminded of how gullible, some of our fellow Malaysians have become because of our inept system, favours the illogic and reward random acts of violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Strengthen the foundational structure of our nation – G40

The Malaysian Insider
19 April 2015

We are a group of Malaysians deeply concerned about the state of our nation. Never before in this country’s history have such stresses and strains been made to bear upon the foundational principles of nationhood which now threaten to subvert the bonds that have held all Malaysians together and kept the nation comprising the territorial components of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak intact.

Constructed when Malaya achieved independence in 1957 under the Merdeka Constitution, the basic structure was re-examined and re-established when the federation of Malaysia came into being in 1963 with the concerns of the Borneo states taken into consideration.

Malaysia’s constitutional history records the fact that this country is a secular nation with Islam as the religion of the federation. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


I would accept a copy of the Quran

By Kuo Yong Kooi
Mar 3, 2015

COMMENT If someone handed me a copy of the Quran, I am happy to accept it with no ill will in my heart. I have concluded long ago that all religious texts in this world are guidelines to improve human behaviours.

The unfortunate part is many people misinterpreted religious text all the time. If someone has got it right, then it does not matter what religion you are from, their action shows.

In my opinion, the rules that the fundamentalists Muslims want every Muslim to follow are not that much different from the monastic rules for the Buddhist monks and nuns. The only big difference is their approach.

Buddhists see the rules as a path for their followers to practice if and only if they want to attain Nibanna (enlightenment). The themes that Buddhism carried all through a person’s religious life are basically an invitation to explore and the gradual training. It is a personal inward journey. No amount of compulsion can facilitate a personal journey.

If a Buddhist decides to go to the beer festivals and have vice activities, that is his or her Karma. It is as simple as that. That is their business. If you want Nibanna, the monastic codes are much stricter than the rules imposed by the Taliban or IS.

A Buddhist monastic cannot have sex, drugs/intoxicants or entertainment. The Taliban can have up to four wives. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly

1 Comment

50 shades of religious harmony

by Emmanuel Joseph
The Malaysian Insider
3 March 2015

Somehow, over the years, ‘harmony’ in Malaysia, much like ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’, has been reduced to more of a buzzword than an accepted social norm.

We are, now, in effect, at best, an occasionally harmonious country. When it suits tourism and business interests, we put on this façade of a melting pot of culture, race and religion.

But the once-very-real concept of accepting each other as brothers and sisters of different faiths and cultures appear to have been replaced with a more practical, clinical version of harmony. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly

No Comments

From Sodomy I to Sodomy II – Malaysia regressing to the darkness and repression 17 years ago when the country should be moving forward to greater freedom, justice, prosperity and confidence after the passage of almost two decades

Wishing all Malaysian Chinese as well as Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, a Happy Chinese New Year as it is now a festivity celebrated by all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

Chinese New Year, which begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice, has been described as the most important holiday for Chinese people worldwide.

In China, it is marked by the world’s largest annual human migrations with 2.8 billion trips made across the country in the mass exodus of students, migrant labourers, factory workers and office employees making their long journeys home to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year in Malaysia has become a very Malaysian affair, despite its ethnic origins and associations.

In Malaysia, the Chinese New Year is also marked by major human migrations, but not confined to the Chinese as it affects other ethnic groups as well.

Many issues will jostle for top attention among Malaysians during the Chinese New Year. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Which Minister is prepared to bell the cat and move a motion in Cabinet on Wednesday to demand that Ismail Sabri should apologise for his racist call on Malay consumers to boycott Chinese business or be sacked from the Cabinet

The Cabinet is meeting on February 11, its sixth meeting in the new year of 2015, after playing truant for three weeks from Dec. 18, 2014 to 6th January 2015 with Ministers going all over the world on holidays in the midst of the worst floods catastrophe in living memory in Malaysia – and even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who had to cut short his golf holidays in Hawaii, could not recall all his Ministers to return home which was why the Cabinet could not meet on Dec. 31, after missing an earlier Wednesday Cabinet meeting of Dec. 24, 2014.

The February 11 meeting in two days’ time is shaping up to be a very important Cabinet meeting – the last opportunity for the 35-Minister Cabinet to redeem itself and salvage whatever is left of its credibility by righting a terrible wrong it committed at its last Cabinet meeting in sanctioning, condoning and defending the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s racist call to Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses.

What is deplorable and unforgivable is for the 35-Minister Cabinet to do something which all religions and all sound education systems in the world would deplore – to claim and demand that a rabid racist call on Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses which is clearly wrong and threatening the very fabric of Malaysia’s plural society is not only right, but must be accepted as right by all Malaysians.

It is a stand that no religion or education system can accept. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Pastoral letter in reference to Herald case

– Julian Leow
The Malaysian Insider
27 January 2015

My Dear People of God,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

We have come to the end of a long journey which began in 2008 when we were told that we cannot call God in the way the majority of our Catholics in Malaysia have been used to for centuries.

We mounted a challenge in the court to exercise our constitutional right to manage our own religious affairs. The Church took the position that the minister’s restriction went against the spirit as well as the letter of our Federal Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly

1 Comment

So what’s your freedom worth?

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
23 January 2015

As the world experiences the worrying expansion of global radicalism, reports of violence and killings committed in the name of religion evoke all sorts of emotions – it propels humanity into extreme ends: you either strongly disagree or strongly agree with the atrocities committed in the name of God, religion and faith.

Many of us are still trying to make sense of the recent attacks in Paris, the battles fought by Isis and the massacres carried out by Boko Haram. These aggressions aren’t just about a series of offensive cartoons or the overzealousness of installing an Islamic caliphate or even the evil of Western education, but it is a declaration of war against freedom of expression and human rights. Most of all, it signals the breakdown of logic – the raison d’être of religious wisdom and prudence; it indicates an abrupt shift to feverish radicalism.

Every heinous attack committed by religious extremists leaves many of us wondering: what is it about religion that makes one more inclined to embrace violence and lose one’s sense of humour or common sense? Where do you draw the line between jest and insolence? Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Church fails to get 9-man bench to hear ‘Allah’ review

by V. Anbalagan
The Malaysian Insider
11 January 2015

The chief justice of Malaysia has turned down a request by the Catholic Church to convene a minimum nine-man panel to deliberate its review application against the ban on the word Allah when the case comes up on January 21.

The church was instead informed that only a five-man bench would be constituted to hear the matter.

The decision by Tun Arifin Zakaria was conveyed to the Catholic Church by the special officer to the chief justice, Dr Alwi Abdul Wahab, in a letter dated December 31.

The letter which was sighted by The Malaysian Insider, said that the request for a full bench could not be entertained. There were no reasons given on why the request was dismissed.

On December 23, a lawyer for the church had sent a letter to Arifin, urging for at least nine Muslim and non-Muslim judges to hear its arguments on fundamental constitutional provisions relating to religion.

The letter, which was also sighted by The Malaysian Insider, had said the church wanted a quorum that reflected the multi-cultural and multi-religious diversity of Malaysian society, given the nature of the issues raised. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Court ruling affirms religious authorities are limited by law

30 December 2014

There is the law and no one, including religious authorities, can overstep the limits of the law even if they invoke religion as a right.

For too long now, some state religious authorities in Malaysia have issued fatwas (opinions) and treated them as immutable regulations that can be imposed at will and without recourse.

Today, the Court of Appeal affirmed that these state religious authorities have no such power when it upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) was wrong in raiding and seizing copies of a controversial book from a Borders bookstore in Kuala Lumpur.

The book, “Allah, Liberty and Love” by Irshad Manji, was seized before a fatwa banning it was issued and, as such, Jawi’s actions were deemed illegal and unconstitutional. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly

1 Comment

Let Malaysian Christians and all patriotic Malaysians reaffirm on Christmas 2014 to provide greater support to policies and politics of inclusion where all Malaysians, regardless of politics, race, religion, gender or age can stand as one to promote tolerance, harmony and unity

Christmas 2014 Message

I had hoped that the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals meant for Orang Asli parishioners to Catholic priest Father Cyril Mannayagam in Tangkok, Johore on December 18 would start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance of Malaysia as a plural nation to end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry which had recently hounded, haunted and disgraced Malaysia.

But this was not to be, and there had been no surcease or let-up in the rhetoric and politics of extremism, intolerance and bigotry, as evidenced by the ISMA demand that Muslims should not wish “Merry Christmas” to Christians, the warning that Christmas celebrations were only a ploy by the Christian community to proselytize among the Muslims, and the tearing up by a Perkasa protestor of a DAP banner wishing “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in front of the Perak DAP headquarters last Friday.

But Malaysian moderates of goodwill and reason must not despair by such setbacks but must persevere in their mission for harmony, tolerance and moderation in the country.

Let Malaysian Christians and all patriotic Malaysians reaffirm on Christmas 2014 to provide greater support to policies and politics of inclusion where all Malaysians, regardless of politics, race, religion, gender or age can stand as one to promote tolerance, harmony and unity.
Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


A Christmas message to my nation

— Charles Ganaprakasam
The Malay Mail Online
December 21, 2014

DECEMBER 21 — On this stunning, life-giving harmonious day, I would like to convey my Christmas wishes to my fellow brothers and sisters who are rejoicing this holy day as a birth of Jesus on earth to redeem us from our sin which we committed by God given free will.

We should not celebrate Christmas without knowing the proper mode of celebrating it. Some celebrate this pure delightful day solely with their friends and family gathering with gleaming smiles and once it’s done, then Christmas is over and they are glad of it.

The most wonderful and meaningful way of celebrating Christmas is through serving the deprived people with pure heart and remembering them as one of our brothers and sisters. We should serve them notwithstanding by where they belong racially, culturally and religiously.

Whether the underprivileged person is in someone’s own neighbourhood or in a distant area, we must not neglect our duty to serve them. Man’s responsibility to help his fellow beings is the central essence of teaching by Jesus Christ.

The notion of serving others not only mentioned in Christianity by Jesus, but also in the teaching of Buddhism and Islam. In Islam it’s compulsory for every Muslim to pay a certain amount of money from their earning as “zakat” for the poor people. Additionally, the Hindu religion traditionally believes that act of serving the needy is for repentance for their sin in this or their previous lifetime to discharge them from cycle of death and rebirth. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry

The Police deserves commendation for the return of the 31 Christian hymnals to Catholic priest Father Cyril Mannayagam in Tangkak last night and an amicable settlement of the latest religious standoff in the country over the police seizure of the books which were meant for Orang Asli parishioners.

The police and various government agencies should learn from such an uncalled-for spat and be aware of their role and duty to be extra-sensitive to promote and not to undermine inter-racial and inter-religious understanding and relations.

I fully share the sentiments of the Sabah Speaker and former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, who expressed dismay at the “never-ending problem” of religious controversies over the Allah word issue, hudud and the confiscation of Bibles, hymns and other Christian literature published in Bahasa Malaysia and that “Just as one incident is solved, another one cropped up”.

Let all Malaysians hope and pray that the Sabah Speaker is not correct when he blogged that “it is beginning to look like this is going to be part of the Malaysian ‘culture’ for a long time to come”, urging that Sabah and Sarawak should not “slide down the slippery slope that some states in West Malaysia appear to be heading for” but should continue to take the lead in “maintaining the solidarity between those of different religious faiths”.

Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals in Johor start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry which had dominated and poisoned inter-racial and inter-religious relations in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Endorse call on Police to end the year of police harassment of Christians by apologizing and returning the 31 hymn books so that Christmas this year could mark a new beginning for all Malaysians regardless of faith for inter-religious tolerance, understanding and harmony in Malaysia

All Malaysians of goodwill will endorse the call by the former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan on the authorities to stop harassing Christians.

The police and other enforcement officers must be educated on the 10-point agreement so that they become exemplars in promoting inter-racial and inter-religious tolerance, understanding and harmony instead of being the vanguard of insensitivity and disrespect for the diverse religions and cultures in Malaysia.

Why has Malaysia, which until recent years have been an oasis in the world for inter-religious tolerance, understanding and harmony, become an outpost for extremism, intolerance, immoderation, hatred and bigotry both on matters of race and religion?

Christmas is only a week away. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


The seized hymn books should be returned to Catholic priest Cyril Mannayagam without any delay and police personnel sent for “sensitization” courses to respect multi-religious rights and sensitivities as well as keep up with legal developments

It is sad, shocking and outrageous that 20 days before Christmas, a religious festival which is accorded recognition as a national public holiday, like Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji, Deepavali and Vesak Day, Malaysia is marred by another insensitive incident – the police action in Tangkak on December 5 detaining a Catholic priest Cyril Mannayagam and seizing 31 copies of a hymn book intended for Orang Asli Christians.

Cyril posed no threat to national security and was not doing anything which could by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as subversive or subterfuge as all he did was to ask a bookshop to photocopy 31 copies of a hymn book, titled “Mari Kita Memuji Allah Kita” meant for the Orang Asli parishioners in his congregation at the Church of St Andrew in Muar.

Adding insult to injury, the Tangkak police action was unlawful – an instance of the police breaking the law when they should be upholding the law.

This is because the law the police was using against Cyril, Section 298A of the Penal Code on causing disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will on grounds of religion, had been struck down as invalid by the then Supreme Court in 1988 in the case of Mamat bin Daud v Government of Malaysia.

The Supreme Court held that Section 298A of the Penal Code was unconstitutional as it was a provision in the Penal Code and as such had no power to legislate over Islamic matters.

Christmas festivities have started and the 31 hymn books unlawfully seized from Cyril should be returned immediately to the Catholic priest for Christmas celebrations by the Orang Asli Christians.

Let us all spread Christmas joy instead of Christmas grief! Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Will UMNO General Assembly next week send out a clear and unmistakable message that UMNO will be the vanguard and not be the major obstacle to a movement of moderates against extremism in Malaysia?

I applaud the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s call to the majority of Malaysians to be united and speak up against extremism as the country cannot afford to have extremists given its diversity in terms of race, culture and religion.

Speaking at a Barisan Nasional youth retreat dinner in Kuching last night, Adenan said the country could become a worse place not because the minority did not do enough, but the majority did nothing.

The Sarawak Chief Minister warned that the danger of extremism is looming in the country and it is for the moderates to speak up for moderation, pointing out that the majority cannot be silenced for the fanatics and extremists do not speak for the country.

Adenan’s speech is like a breath of fresh air after the surfeit of suffocating statements, speeches and demands in recent weeks and months giving the world the impression that extremism has taken over the country and that Malaysia’s multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious diversity, tolerance, harmony and goodwill have suddenly become a liability instead of an asset – which seemed to be further reinforced by Malaysia’s shocking jump in the Global Terrorism Index 2014 to the Top 50 countries in the world to be watched for terrorism problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Let the Global Terrorism Index 2014 be a wake-up call to all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians that we jeopardize the future of Malaysians if we do not check the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism and hew closely to the path of moderation

Malaysia has climbed 42 places in an international terrorism indicator that has cited religious extremism as the primary cause of terror attacks worldwide.
In the 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute of Economic and Peace, Malaysia is now 48th in a ranking that has Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at the top, having risen from 91st spot in the 2012 issue of the report.

Malaysia’s score on the index measuring the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property has also risen steadily from 2012, going from 0.415 out of a possible 10 to the current 3.04. Ten signifies the highest impact of terrorism.

Regionally, the Philippines, (9th/7.29), Thailand (10th/7.19) and Indonesia (31st/4.67) scored worse than Malaysia. Singapore was 124th, with a score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism.

The Global Terrorism Index 2014 is bad news for Malaysia, for overnight, Malaysia has shot into the international radar of the top 50 countries under the world’s terrorism-watch, having overtaken 43 countries in a matter of two years as a country where terrorism is a bigger problem – overtaking countries like Uganda, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, France, Chile, Italy, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tajikistan, Spain, Jordan, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Germany, Canada and Serbia.

What has gone wrong as Malaysia has always prided itself as a model for the world for inter-racial and inter-religious understanding, tolerance and harmony that we are now in the top 50 countries in the world in the Global Terrorism Index on the negative impact of terrorism, when Malaysia should be one of the countries with score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Let the amicable resolution to the Selangor issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of ASEAN Chair usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation

Congratulations are in order to the Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali in resolving the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay language Bible with the return of the seized copies of the Bible to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).

The amicable resolution to the issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of the annual rotating ASEAN Chairmanship for 2015 are two welcome developments which should be the basis to usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in the handing-over ceremony of the annual rotating ASEAN Chair in Naypyitaw, Myanmar yesterday that Malaysia, as chairman of ASEAN, would promote moderation as a shared value in order to address conflict and find solutions to issues concerning regional peace and security.

He also called on ASEAN to avoid narrow nationalism which could go against the spirit of an ASEAN community. Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly


Malays and Islam are not under attack in Malaysia. It is multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which is under siege by intolerant and extremist forces which are trying to turn moderation into a dirty word in Malaysia

It is the supreme irony of ironies.

While the government continues to propagate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates, this time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit currently being held in Beijing, Najib had never been so weak and impotent at home to check the forces of hatred, intolerance and extremism rearing their ugly heads.

On the day that Bernama reported that the Prime Minister’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) proposal had received praise from the APEC foreign ministers meeting in Beijing before the 22nd APEC Summit, an ex-UMNO Minister had opened fire on Najib’s GMM initiative, claiming that Christian fanatics in Malaysia had seized on Najib’s concept of moderation and exploited it for their own interests.

Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maiddin claimed that the Malays and Islam were under pressure due to the concept of moderation, asserting that there were signs the concept was on the wrong track.

He cited with approval a recent statement by Johor Umno youth vice-chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who said that moderation was unsuitable for certain issues, claiming that it reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Umno grassroots.
Read the rest of this entry »

Print Friendly