Archive for category Religion

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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Going the Taliban way to keep grip on Malaysia

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
8 November 2014

It is no longer a question of what else will certain groups of Malay Muslims take offence to in Malaysia.

Anything from a) places of worship of other religions must not be built in Malay-majority areas and b) alcohol cannot be sold in shops in Malay-majority areas, and even pictures of idols cannot be placed alongside Halal signs – has raised hackles among Muslim groups.

For them, it is not ridiculous to say that such things can shake their faith or affect their image. No detail is too small or trivial for them to assert their dominance or flex their muscles to get their way.

But the so-called guardians are also the same guys who won’t think twice of about plundering the nation or visiting an entertainment outlet and then insisting on a halal meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Indonesia has to raise its voice to speak out for moderate Islam

– Rizvi Shihab
The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014

One of the many challenges facing the current government is re-establishing Indonesia’s unique geographical, cultural and ideological identities.

Presently, there is a concerted governmental effort to augment Indonesia’s power by introducing its “maritime-axis” foreign policy to fully take advantage of its strategic geographical position.

But in addition to this maritime emphasis, I believe Indonesia needs to start disseminating its ideological character globally as a world ambassador of religious moderation. Members of the international community often wonder about the silence exhibited by the majority of moderate Muslim countries. This provides opportunity for Indonesia to step up and become the leader of this quiet group.

If the United States is known as the ethnic melting pot, Indonesia should strive to be acknowledged as the religious melting pot where members of all faiths live in tranquil harmony. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s road to perdition

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
3 November 2014

There is no delicate way to put this: Malaysia is on a downward spiral, led down the dangerous path by overzealous religious authorities, misguided or plain stupid individuals and groups.

And perhaps more alarmingly, the government of the day is either allowing this implosion of a blessed country or has become a clueless bystander to the dismantling of multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia.

Not a day seems to go by without some new group seeking to change the complexion of Malaysia.

Not a day goes by without a reminder that stray words and ignorance are far more dangerous than sticks or stones.

Just another day in Malaysia:

Brouhaha over church site in Petaling Jaya Read the rest of this entry »

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Attorney General should reconsider the decision not to charge Ibrahim Ali

— Catholic Lawyers’ Society
Malay Mail Online
October 31, 2014

OCTOBER 31 — The Catholic Lawyers’ Society, Kuala Lumpur (CLS) is deeply disappointed that the Attorney General (AG) will not prosecute Datuk Ibrahim Ali for his calls to the Muslims to seize and bum the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Holy Bibles on the basis that the latter was only defending the sanctity of Islam.

The Federal Government has echoed similar statements through Nancy Shukri, de facto Minister of Law in parliament on October 7, 2014. With respect, both the AG and the Federal Government has done a disservice to the people of Malaysia. By condoning the AG’s decision not to prosecute Datuk Ibrahim Ali, the Federal Government has failed in its responsibility to defend the minorities in the country.

The Christian communities have lived under the threat of constant aggression by some who are bent on creating religious intolerance. However, prosecution of such insidious acts have been few and far between. Some of these examples as reported in the media include: Read the rest of this entry »

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Again, Putrajaya shows its bark is worse than its bite

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
31 October 2014

In most countries, civil servants who do not obey cabinet directives are disciplined. But in Malaysia, cabinet ministers have to appeal or cajole civil servants to follow government directives or the law.

The latest is the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s move to seize some 300 Christian CDs and books containing the word Allah from Sabahan pastor Maklin Masiau in klia2 last week.

Masiau’s case is not the first, and is most likely not the last despite assurances from Putrajaya that it respects the religious rights of all Malaysians under the Federal Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dr. Mahathir’s latest gaffe on Bible burning

— Koon Yew Yin
The Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014

OCTOBER 30 — As the former Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mahathir — as with former heads of state all over the world — has been accorded much respect. Not only that, he is given liberties as befitting a leader who has served the country for over two decades, and whose experience and advice is thought of as being given with the best interests of the nation in mind.

But the public also knows that Dr. Mahathir is approaching — if not already reached — the stage of senility and dotage that is associated with old age. Threfore he is given some slack — in fact more than is due to any other political leader in Malaysia. His past controversial statements — many found in his blog and others made at public events — would fill up more than a book but they are mostly ignored as the ramblings of an old leader trying to remain in the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »

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Its not dotard but Mahathir’s classic perverse illogic believing the end justifies the means – whether lies, sedition or even treason – causing him to defend Ibrahim’s Bible-burning threat

Tun Dr. Mahathir is at it again – thumbing his nose at civil and rational society, declaring that he sees no harm in Perkasa President, Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning call.

Mahathir said it was not a problem calling for the Bible to be burned as long as there were good intentions.

He said Islam allowed for the Quran to be burned and not discarded all over the place, or to be stepped on, if it was no longer used.

“So, burning the Quran with good intention is not a problem”, he said.

This is not dotard but Mahathir’s classic perverse illogic believing the end justifies the means – whether lies, sedition or even treason. Read the rest of this entry »

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Of burning holy books and sparking chaos

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
29 October 2014

Leave it to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to figure out that burning a holy book is showing it the same respect as Muslims burning Qurans that are old and no longer used.

And of course, it must be done with good intentions, said the former Malaysian prime minister who defended his protege Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the Perkasa chief’s threat to burn Bahasa Malaysia Bibles last year.

“They (Perkasa) have to show respect to the Bible, burn it as how they burn the Quran.”

Dr Mahathir also defended Ibrahim’s statement, saying it was not seditious as claimed by critics, as his intention was not to provoke.

“In other words, he was giving an opinion that could be accepted by Muslims as it was not seditious,” he added.

The acerbic politician is not alone in thinking that Ibrahim’s words were no threat as even the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) have justified the Perkasa chief’s statement as defending the sanctity of Islam.

Both Dr Mahathir and the AGC see no wrong and wonder what the fuss is all about. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign

The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.

What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.

Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible? Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Dog Issue – A Petty Problem?

by MASTURAH ALATAS
CounterPunch
October 27, 2014

On Sunday, 19 October 2014, as I was scrolling through Facebook posts, one image struck me in a way no other has in a long time. I have several Malaysians on my friends list, so it is not unusual for me to see pictures of hijabed Malaysian women show up in my news feed.

But this one of a young Malay woman, her head covered with a yellow tudung, was completely different. It accompanied a Malaysian Insider report headlined ‘ ‘I want to touch a dog’ event an attempt to insult Malaysia’s clerics’. What was striking about the image was that it showed this woman actually holding a dog, a Pomeranian, its open mouth, tongue dangling, just inches from her smiling face.

The event was held in the middle class suburb of Bandar Utama just outside Kuala Lumpur, and drew hundreds of participants. It was aimed to break the taboo that many Malaysian Muslims have against dogs, remind participants that dogs are God’s creatures, too, and educate them about dog rescue and cleansing practices after handling a dog.

I instantly recognized the subversive value of the image. A Malay touching a dog? But we are told that Malays don’t touch dogs because they believe their religion, Islam,—in particular the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Malaysia—tells them that dogs are unclean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let all Malaysians be inspired by the Deepavali message of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair

Happy Deepavali to Malaysian Indians in particular and Malaysians in general.

The Deepavali Festival of Lights celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

Let all Malaysians be inspired by the Deepavali message to build a free, just, democratic, prosperous and competitive multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation which is a model of unity, harmony, moderation and tolerance to the world – instead of being a troubled and divided country.

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Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

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Alternative to Sedition Act is in Penal Code

– Adrian Lim
The Malaysian Insider
17 October 2014

I come from a Chinese Christian family. I have been labelled “pendatang” and “Cina Babi” all my life, but the Sedition Act is still irrelevant to me.

Well, many have said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali should be charged with sedition for threatening to burn the Christian Bible. There are also racists and even principals who have labelled the Chinese as “pendatang” or even “Cina Babi”.

Technically, these people have committed an offence under the Sedition Act for “promoting feelings of ill will and hostility between different races” – Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Yesterday, Khairy Jamaluddin claimed that the walk against sedition has not made an impact because most Malaysians want safeguards against racially or religiously offensive speech.

Is that so? Do we not have safeguards in place?

In fact, I do not need the Sedition Act to protect me. I do not need the Sedition Act to criminalise people like Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, Ridhuan Tee, Zulkifli Nordin or the infamous Ibrahim Ali. Read the rest of this entry »

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