Saturday, January 12, 2008

The End of Religious Freedom (?)

This post will sound somewhat apocalyptic, but I certainly do not think it's an exaggeration.

I wrote about the Christmas present for the Malaysian Catholic community earlier which never came. Well, it did actually, shortly after that when the Internal Security Ministry belatedly granted the Printing and Publications Permit for their in-house newsletter "The Herald". Better still, no specific conditions were apparently attached to the permit, for example, on the use of Bahasa Malaysia.

The renewal, despite the delay, led naturally to non-UMNO Barisan Nasional leaders praising the wisdom of the moderate prime minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The minister in the Prime Minister's department, purportedly in-charge of Christian affairs, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said he brought the matter to the attention of prime minister a few days before Christmas.
“I think the permit is good news and the Government has given the Christian community a wonderful Christmas present. The community will certainly be happy to know that the Government is looking into their welfare and that the Government is interested in all the races,” said Dompok.
The Star in one of its editorials, commented that
...our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is a fair man... Pak Lah must have listened to the views of both Muslims and Christians by now and certainly he serves as a good appellant.


It is good that the controversy has been handled in a rational and calm manner. Many Malaysians, in fact, do not see the need for it to crop up in the first place, and we sometimes need to remind ourselves that we should not see any agenda or shadow in every action or statement that we make.
Alas, those rejoicing spoke too soon and it was not to be. In less than a week after the permit was "approved", the Minister in the Prime Minister's office in-charge of Muslim affairs, Datuk Abdullah Zin issued a press statement stating that 'Allah' is off-limits to non-Muslims, and its use is exclusively Islam's.
The restrictions on the use of the word “Allah” was still enforceable and shall be upheld as decided by the Cabinet in two of its meetings – on Oct 18 and Nov 1, 2006, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdullah Mohd Zin said.

Abdullah, who said the Prime Minister had instructed him to clarify the matter so the public would not be confused...
Two critical issues stand out in the above statement.
  • Firstly, the Prime Minister has specifically instructed Abdullah Zin to make the clarification which means that unlike what was painted in the Star, he's not a "fair man", and neither is he "rational" or "calm".

  • Secondly, and more tellingly, the Cabinet, which comprises also of MCA, Gerakan and MIC non-Muslim members, have agreed with such discriminatory policies during the cabinet meetings in 2006. Are they not then clearly demonstrating that they are beholden to UMNO, and not instead, rightfully to the rakyat?
What is worse, is that the Barisan Nasional government isn't going to stop just there in the Islamisation process. You may have read from Sdr Lim Kit Siang's blog that the formerly prestigious English College (EC) in Johor Bahru now requires all its prefects to don the songkok on a daily basis. And as reported here in Malaysiakini, even children's books with cariacatures of prophets are seized by the Internal Security Ministry, headed none other than the Prime Minister himself, who is allegedly "serves as a good appellant".

There are countless of other examples on such exercises of (in)tolerance. The reasons given? Its the same tune that "the illustrations of prophets in the Christian children’s books are said to offend the sensitivities of Muslims".

Soon, the very presence of churches and temples in our midst will be deemed "to offend the sensitivities of Muslims". Or the fact that the mere mention of the existence of another religious belief which isn't in line with UMNO's version of Islam will be deemed a seditious offence, and hence outlawed.

Is it far fetched? Certainly not. Especially not if the rakyat continues to put on their blinkers and provide support to Barisan Nasional component parties who chooses to remain submissive to their lords and masters, the UMNOputeras.

There is certainly no other way of looking at it. I'm no apologist for PAS, but the way it is, the Barisan Nasional government led by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Ong Ka Ting, Koh Tsu Koon and Samy Vellu is certainly more fanatical in extinguishing religious freedom in Malaysia, under the guise of "tolerance and moderation".

This, ladies and gentlement, is the dawning of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Islamic State.


Jeffrey Chew said...

One of the most powerful and insightful article i have ever read from you, Tony. Hope you didn't sweat too much after finishing the article which I think you probably did. Good call and good comments. I wish you would run up North.

As I Was Saying... said...

The End Of Religious Freedom?

You bet! It's the beginning of the end of the Malaysian Constitution, Rule of Law, Separations of Power and Constitutionalism.

I wouldn't be surprise, if the next 50 years, the non-Malay and non-Muslims in Malaysia are force to wear songkoks and tudungs in public places whether they like it or not; have separate counters for men and women, banned all gamblings, selling of pork meat,liquors and beers; have all recite muslims' prayers in schools with the used of the word "ALLAH" and but banned others'faith holy books; demolished all churches and temples and statues of gods; if we rakyat continue to support and give the mandate to UMNO's brand of Islam and Islamic State.

The day where there's no more Civil Courts in Malaysia but Syariah Courts as the Supreme Court of Malaysia with Syariah and Hudud Laws as the Supreme Law of the Malaysian Constitution is the day where you and I HAVE TO change our religion to Islam, and called ourselves MALAY-sians or else.....WE ARE DOOMED.

Still dare to put the "x" to BN on the ballot paper this coming General Election?

Anonymous said...

Intolerance level has raised a few decibels since this suppossedly fair and religious man took centre stage. another excuse for him as a weak leader? or is it just a disguise for him to surreptiously take away religious freedom?

Anonymous said...

Pubs are closed and alcohol banned during awal muharram and some other Islamic holidays. We understand their sensitivities but do they understand ours on other occasions?

Anonymous said...

Did you watch AAB with his grandson in yesterday's Star?
If I am not mistaken the lady is quite "exposed" with her blouse?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when in Rome do as the Romans do. We must follow the majority. We were more American when we we are in US don't we?

Anonymous said...

Genting Casino, SportsToto, Magnum4d, Pan-Malaysian Pools, pubs, beers, wine, prostitutions etc etc....

Henceforth until further informed on the contrary, it would be a BIG slab on their faces to have declared Malaysia as an Islamic State!

Political Terrorist and Hypocrite!
That was all......

Anonymous said...

Inclusiveness and respect for the minority's rights have never been upheld here, as far as I am concerned. I remember my induction in a local university 10 years ago where I was forced to wear a 'tudung' to be part of the community. Being the minority, I was voiceless and had no other choice. Today, I work in a multinational where tudungs are a rarity. I definitely agree that things are going from bad to worse. This GE, my vote will go to the party that protects my constitutional rights.