Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Present

It's Christmas tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't feel very “Christmasy”.

Malaysia used to celebrate all religious festivals with zest. We were proud of the fact that we are indeed a multi-racial and multi-religious society both tolerant and respectful of each other.

Of late, you'll only hear such rhetoric in mainstream newspaper headlines as well as tourism promotion advertisements, which now not only rings hollow, it is hypocrisy at its worst.

You may have read the news in Malaysiakini a few days ago, as well as in The Sun today, “The Herald” which is an in-house Catholic newsletter application for the annual renewal of its printing and publications license has been unreasonably witheld.

And the basis provided by the Ministry of Internal Security for witholding its permit? Simply that the newsletter must stop publishing the The Herald in the national language. For those who are unaware, The Herald has 4 language sections within its paper, English, Chinese, Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia.

The pretext provided by the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Johari Baharom was that the word “Allah” can only be used by Muslims! How absolutely arrogant and preposterous!

For those who are not familiar, the word “Allah” originates from the Arabic word “al-Lah” and it was used even in pre-Islamic times in the Middle East. Even Arab Christians today (yes, they do exist) use the term “Allah” om their Arabic bible (and yes, unlike the Bahasa Malaysia bible which has been banned, there is no ban in the Middle East on bibles in Arabic language).

Even the Sikhs use the term “Allah” since the founding of their faith and the world is repeatedly used in their Holy Book. So will the Government ban the Sikh holy book next?

Of course, the fact that many Christian bumiputeras (Ibans, Kadazans etc.) in East Malaysia is educated only in Bahasa Malaysia due to the national language policy is irrelevant to the Government.

By taking the Ministry's logic in its argument further, soon other religions will not be able to make reference to the Supreme being or an omnipotent God because, the only one which exists is expounded in the Quran. Hence any reference elsewhere will not be respectful of the faith of the Muslim majority in this country.

Who, may I ask, is the Minister for this preposterous Ministry? Oh, it can't be! It is the wise and genial Prime Minister himself, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who preaches the virtues of a multi-racial, muti-cultural and multi-religious society – which I'm certain will be the headlines of all mainstream newspapers tomorrow.

We'd like to call upon the Prime Minister, who is also the Internal Security Minister to practise what he preaches and grant the Christian community a simple Christmas present, that is to approve immediately the renewal of the printing and publication license for “The Herald”.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!


Anonymous said...

After four years of Bodohwi's adminstration, UMNO is much much worse than PAS in its fanaticism and extremism.

All races regardless of religions are now so desperate to vote opposition for a change!!!

It's for sure that BN will suffer a major setback in the coming General Election!! The people have waken up!! For the first time all my family members, relatives, friends, neighbours, my students, etc, have expressed their intention to vote against BN, despite the fact that they voted for BN in 2004.

Anonymous said...

for Deepavali , Pak Lah demolished our temple.

you guys should be lucky that for christmas he just banned your newsletter and not demolish your church like he did last year at the orang asli settlement.

You tak suka you boleh keluar dari Malaysia

Anonymous said...

Talking about Iraq, a Iraqi friend once told me that during Saddam Hussein's regime, majority of the Iraqis were actually christians. They weren't multi racial like us in Malaysia but they do have a high tolerance towards the various religion practiced in the country......

NEO said...

Wah! It is our Deputy Internal Security Minister, Mr. J again.

Since when our Mr. J is appointed as spokesperson for the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference)?

But even OIC cannot change the fact that the word Al-lah is used by all Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others and this standard arabic word for God was probably known in pre-Islamic Arabia. []

Anonymous said...

Wishing Tony Pua and Family Yuletide Greetings and a very Happy New Year!

Life, As I See It, Live It said...

Happy Christmas, Tony.

Anonymous said...

Merry (belated) Christmas, TP!


Anonymous said...

Hi Tony, There must be a reason for it to be withheld. Any word from the publisher/editor at least?

Shaza G said...

Merry Christmas to you and your Family Tony.

Hope simple message like this would remind you that there are hundreds if not thousands of us that support you and your cause out here.

warrior2 said...

I dont know much about this Herald publication. Meant for Malaysian community only?

In the context of it being used for local consumption only (assuming that is true), some may argue that there is a merit in what the Ministry is requiring because it may create consfusion and complication as well as it being a sensitive thing.

In Malaysia and for Malaysian context, do the christians called thier god ALLAH? Is the Cristian god Allah?

Golf Afflicted said...

Hi Warrior 2,

Thanks for commenting on all my recent posts. For someone who claims to be not too bothered, you are certainly quite conscientious about leaving your thoughts behind. ;-)

Anyway, with regards to your comments above. May I ask if the Quran is also published in English? Can I also assume that "Allah" may just be translated in some versions as "God"?

By your argument, despite a country proclaiming freedom of religion e.g., United States which is dominated by Christians, does it mean that the Quran cannot use the word "God" or it'll "create confusing and complication as well as it being a sensitive thing"?

What about the Chinese version of the Quran - after all China has the largest population of Muslims in the world? The equivalent of 'God' in Chinese cannot be used because it may create confusion with other religions being practised in the country?

Are you so easily confused?


warrior2 said...

tony, hi. I hope there is nothing wrong in me leaving comments behind. The fact that you raised it seems queer to me.I cant recall when did I claim that I am one wh is not too bothered!

My comment/query for this particular post was just to better understand what is the christian teaching/belief on the issue. I asked what do the christian called thier (or the) god? is the word Allah contained in the Bible? To me, if that is what you called your god, there is no reason for the word not to be used to describe the god concern.

Let me try to answer your queries now.

First, the quran comes only in 1 language i.e arabic. There is no other languages. What you see are TRANLATIONS in many languages. In these translataions, depending on the SURAh (AYAT), the word god is written as GOD (in the language concern) and Allah is written Allah. There is no transation for Allah!

Now you understand that I am not confused?I hope you are not confused!

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

The real issue may not be semantic
But in reality the fear in politic
Just as in the case of statistic
Withhold by keeping things static

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Fri. 28th Dec. 2007.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we are the laughing stock of the world right now about this Allah(c) issue.

Outside of Malaysia, I don't think you can find a serious scholar in Islam who would lay claim the word Allah(c) as being exclusive to the religion.

Malaysia - sigh, what have we become after 50 years.

And yes, sadly I'm about to pack up my bags and go, if this is what the next 50 years is going to look like.