Monday, December 25, 2006

Much Ado About Turkeys

Christmas ends in a couple of minutes time. But I thought it's still worth squeezing in this quick post on Malaysia and turkeys, which epitomised how much the country has moved away from Islam as the official religion, and inching closer to Malaysia as an Islamic state. The New Straits Times reported on the ban on imported turkeys two days ago, an issue which has persisted for months prior to Christmas.

Here's Uncle Yap's thoughts on the matter and why he weeps for Malaysia. Uncle Yap by the way, runs the BeritaMalaysia mailing list on YahooGroups, and he's also an angel investor way back in 1999 in my humble company. ;)

"The way some non-Muslims like Uncle Yap sees the issue is not so much about choice of food but the thin end of the oppressive wedge that intrudes into the freedom and choice of non-Muslims.

There was a time when we, Malays and non-Malays, used to eat together at the same table and we would tell our Malay friends which dish had haram material. Our Malay friends would eat and partake of everything except the proscribed dishes.

Today, I no longer invite any of my many Malay friends to my house for meals. At my annual Chap Goh Meh open house, I used to have Malay friends tucking in with gusto everything (supplied by a halal caterer) except for the "siew chee" (roast pig) that I have at a corner (with its own styrofoam plates and disposable chopsticks)

But seeing the kind of ultra-religious movement going on in the country and not wishing to impose difficult choices on my Malay friends, I no longer invite them to my house for my CGM party. So much for muhibbah and inter-racial relationship.

The current move by the civil service started some weeks ago when we started hearing complaints from food importers that some civil servants are starting their own agenda of not permitting the entry into the country of non-halal meat and true enough, when Christmas beckoned, the supplier of my Christian friend's annual turkey could not promise my friend his annual bird, which, to him, is an important ingredient of his annual celebration linked to a religious event.

I alerted a few influential people like Blogger Jeff Ooi and Dato Wong Chun Wai, a top honcho in the MCA-controlled paper, The Star. Dato Wong was chosen because he is a staunch Christian who would understand the significance of the roast turkey to the Christians and whom I figured has the ears of the top echelon of decision-makers and would, in the normal course of things, warn his political masters that "something is rotten in the state of ....." (with apologies to Shakespeare)

Alas, the Malay civil servants had their way, unchecked and almost unnoticed. When pressed by harbour-masters with problems of ships lying expensively in port with unloaded consignment of frozen turkey, they took the initiative and labelled the meat "non-halal" ( a grey area between halal and haram) and now their fellow civil servants at Jakim has got into the act, warning all and sundry the perils of serving "non-halal" (read as HARAM) meat at their establishments. (and they have plenty of back-ups by way of health inspections by MoH officials, licensing checks by the local authorities, etc etc). No hotels would dare incur the wrath of the Malay Civil Servant.

The religion-orientated agenda of the Malay civil servants and their obsequious (and I think, maybe blind and deaf like the three monkeys "hear no evil, see no evil") political 'masters' mean a slow but steady erosion of the rights and privileges of others who are not Muslims. Today, I cannot have a "bacon and egg English breakfast" at Shangri-la or the Concorde; tomorrow, I fear I cannot order a beer at these places (not that I can easily afford drinks at such outrageous prices in these establishments).

This country belongs to all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Why, why, why must I (and millions like me) conform to all the religious requirements of the Muslims in more and more aspects of my life??? and I don't even believe that there is a God because my concept of a God is an omnipotent and omni-benevolent Being that would not support, condone nor nurture the oppression of others in the name of God.

When are we, ordinary Malaysian citizens, going to start getting worried that our society is getting more and more oppressive.

Malaysia, I weep for thee."

Thank you, Uncle Yap, for expressing the thoughts and concerns of many Malaysians like me.
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