Month: June 2014

An Act Of Barbarism

On the 28th of June, it was reported that a cow’s head was dumped outside RSN Rayer’s house. “The cow is deemed sacred in Hinduism, and Rayer and his family are Hindus.” Isn’t it clearly an act of barbarism?

The perpetrator desecrated a cow’s head in an attempt to offend RSN Rayer. However, the insensitive act earned the ire of all Malaysians

To many, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this was payback because of RSN Rayer’s “UMNO Celaka” remark and his refusal to apologise. Nevertheless, what was done was beyond acceptable!

Even if the cow head culprit was offended by what RSN Rayer said in the Penang state legislative assembly, he/she should not have stooped so low! Such an abominable act is akin to a hit below the belt!

What is worse is that when Malaysians looked to our Home Minister for assurance that action will be taken, he said he sympathized with Rayer but added that Rayer had it coming because he is a loose cannon

To me the double whammy was completely uncalled for. It was bad enough that someone belittles your religion. On top of that, the appointed custodian of your rights says you deserve it

I mentioned in one of my previous articles that. s.298 of the Penal Code makes “uttering any word or making any sound in the hearing, or making any gesture or placing any object in the sight of any person with intention to wound his religious feeling” a criminal offence. The maximum punishment would be imprisonment for one year, or fine, or both

Furthermore, “causing, etc., disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing, etc., the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion” is also an offence as per s.298A of the Penal Code. The punishment is imprisonment between 2 (min) to 5 years (max).

Seems to me like Datuk Zahid Hamidi is taking the law into his own hands. He refuses to be impartial and even adds his own unnecessary comments

Wouldn’t it amount to another act of barbarism? Failure to act on such heinous occasions would leave us in a state of lawlessness and Archie Lee Moore once wisely said, “If we resort to lawlessness , the only thing we can hope for is civil war, untold bloodshed, and the end of our dreams”

Let us just hope that our Inspector General of Police will be a good example by refusing to be indifferent in this matter!

*Read this also at The Malay Mail Online and The Malaysian Insider

The Aftermath Of The Federal Court’s Decision

The 23rd of June 2014 will go down as one of the darkest days in Malaysia’s history. On that very day, the Federal Court (Malaysia’s apex court) decided not to grant the Catholic church leave for appeal on the use of the word “Allah” for its weekly newsletter publication called ‘The Herald’

The whole saga began in 2007 when the Home Ministry of Malaysia decided to issue a ban prohibiting The Herald from using the word “Allah” in its newsletter. The Herald had been peacefully doing so since 1995

The Catholic church was in a state of shock as the weekly publication was meant for internal circulation, thus dispelling any fears that it would be used to propagate to Muslims

The High Court in 2009 ruled in favor of the Catholic church and quashed the prohibition. Subsequently the government appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the High Court

The Catholic church exercised their legal right to further pursue the matter up the hierarchy of courts but was turned down by the Federal Court. 4 out of the 7-man bench decided against allowing the leave for appeal

The leave for appeal is basically a permission to appeal a previous judgement/ruling. Without the leave for appeal, one is stuck with the decision of the earlier court

So what is the aftermath of the decision? It can’t all be that bad because Putrajaya has assured that the decision is only applicable to The Herald and would have no effect whatsoever on Christians that practice their faith in the national language

Putrajaya’s assurance counts for nothing as even their 10 point solution is not legally binding whereas the Court of Appeal’s decision is binding precedent and has to be followed by courts of equal and lower status

The Federal Court’s refusal to grant The Herald leave for appeal means that the Court of Appeal’s decision is good law. The obiter dicta (persuasive precedent) is that the word “Allah” is not an integral part of the Christian faith

Obiter dicta can crystallize into ratio decidendi (binding precedent). For example, if a court in a future case (e.g. the 321 Bibles seized by JAIS) decides to use that “mere observation” made by the Court of Appeal as the basis for its decision, the mere observation becomes a binding precedent.

Tell me again how that legal principle will only be bound to The Herald? From then onwards, whenever a case appears before the courts regarding the use of “Allah” in any Christian publication, all lower courts will be bound by the decision of the court which based its decision on the Court of Appeal’s obiter dicta

This has major ramifications on the rights of Christians to practice and profess their religion as per Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. Christians that practice their faith in Bahasa Malaysia will be unable to read the Bible in the language they have used all this while

That is only the beginning of the aftermath. Before we know it, the holy book of the Sikhs will also be seized and prohibited because of the use of the word “Allah”

What is most saddening is that the highest court of the land (i.e. the Federal Court) which has the ability to remedy this wrong refused to get involved. May we never forget this dark moment!

*Read it also at The Malay Mail Online

UiTM Seminar – Switching Shoes

Malaysia’s very own Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education was of the opinion that the seminar on Allah and Christology at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) was just a form of “intellectual brainstorming which should be viewed positively”

Let’s do a simple recap. The seminar was an academic programme to explain problems related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat) general-secretary Abdul Karim Omar as well as Indonesians Masyud SM, Irena Handono, Menachem Ali dan Insan LS Mokoginta were amongst the speakers at the event

Insan LS Mokoginta claims to be a former priest but the Bishops Conference of Indonesia said it had no information or data on him.

Furthermore, Irena Handano did not complete her “education.” She was only briefly with the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters as a novice

Isn’t it amazing how individuals with such questionable backgrounds were invited to speak at an academic seminar? One would at least expect a public university of UiTM’s prestige to have vetted its guest speakers

After all, the topic is about the problems related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Shouldn’t only the qualified be allowed to speak on such a sensitive matter?

Funny enough, it was Insan LS Mokoginta and Irene Handano who came up with statements completely unrelated to the topic of discussion and contrary to the claim that the event was not aimed at ‘belittling other religions or attacking the faith of other races’

The former said, “Every Jesus follower should enter Islam. If not, it would be a betrayal to Jesus” while the latter’s input was that, “We shouldn’t wish Merry Christmas because it means that Jesus is reborn.”

Masyud SM (another speaker at the seminar) went on to say that the “Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” Mind boggling huh? What is mind boggling is how our Minister of Education considers that brainstorming!

That is an outright attack on the Christian faith! There was nothing intellectual about it, and there was definitely nothing positive to be taken from it

In order to fully understand how the Christians feel after such a distasteful event, let us switch shoes. Let us envisage a hypothetical situation where a private university conducts a seminar about the “Persecution of Non-Muslims” but ends up talking about the “threat of Islamisation”

As if that wasnt bad enough, a few half past six ulamas and former muslims were invited to openly criticise Islam and its beliefs. On top of that, the seminar was labelled a form of “intellectual  brainstorming which should be viewed positively”

As a non-muslim, even I would be offended that such an abominable event took place! In a multi-religious country such as Malaysia, there’s no room for religion-bashing

Daniel H. Pink once said, “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

Our politicians need more empathy instead of opening their mouths to defend or support such revolting events!

*Read it also at The Malay Mail Online , The Malaysian Insider and at Malaysia Today

What DAP Truly Fights For

Considering the never ending remarks about DAP being anti-islam and anti-malays, I decided to assess whether it is true or not. My assessment is based on DAP’s objectives, policies, and declarations which can be found on its website

1. DAP’s objectives are as follows:

1. a Malaysian Malaysia concept by forging Malaysian race with universal moral values,
2. offering equal access and opportunity;
3. democratic governance and rule of law;
4. creating wealth and distributing wealth equitably; and
5. fighting against corruption

2. DAP’s policies relevant to the topic at hand are stated below

(i) “On nation building

Abolition of the division of “bumiputra” and “non-bumiputra” and the implementation of ethnic equality”

(ii) “On economic development

replacement of the ethnic quota system with a policy of “merits and needs”

(iii) “On Youth

abolition of ethnic quota system in education, the Universities and University Colleges Act and all other laws and regulations that retard the full development of the potential of Malaysia citizens.”

Their first and second objective can be contentious. I elaborated on the concept of Malaysian Malaysia in a much earlier post. Basically, Malaysian Malaysia is about equal rights between all citizens

One can allege that DAP is anti-malay because if the concept of Malaysian Malaysia is implemented, it would mean the removal of all special privileges given to bumiputeras (e.g. positions in public service, scholarships).

Furthermore,  does ‘equal access and opportunity’ mean the support for a non-malay Prime Minister in the future? If it does, those uncomfortable with the idea would definitely see this is an anti-malay propaganda

Chief Justice Brian in Brogden v Metropolitan Railway Co once said “for even the devil does not know what the thought of man is.” Likewise, no one can know DAP’s true intention for advocating the Malaysian Malaysia concept.

DAP’s third, fourth and fifth objective is laudable, as it is in line with the principle of fairness

DAP’s policy in point (i) was affirmed in the 1967 Setapak Declaration. Clearly DAP opposes the distinction between bumiputera and non-bumiputera.

Bumiputeras who are pleased with the status quo would use this as a supporting point that DAP is anti-malay. After all, if DAP was not anti-malay, why remove the distinction?

The real reason behind the opposition to the distinction is that DAP believes it is a hindrance to the process of nation-building (as per the Setapak Declaration 1967)

Well, it doesn’t seem anti-malay or anti-islam. However, DAP should elaborate on how the distinction affects the process of nation-building in order to convince its critics 

Regarding point (ii), meritocracy is generally a widely accepted system as it stands for giving a benefit/benefits to all those who deserve it.

No favouritism is involved when it comes to meritocracy. Point (ii) was articulated in the 1981 Petaling Declaration

Prima facie, point (ii) erodes the rights of the bumiputeras. However, DAP is fighting for the ethnic quota system to be replaced by a policy of “merit and needs.” This cant be seen as anti-malay because the change would also benefit malays who are in need

It is important to note that point (i), (ii), and (iii) of DAP’s policies all touch on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which is about the special position of malays and the natives of Sabah & Sarawak.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that some of the things DAP truly fights for is unconstitutional.

Based on its objectives, policies, and declarations, DAP doesn’t come across as anti-islam. There is nothing stated about removing Islam as the religion of the federation or anything to that extent

However, as to whether DAP is anti-malays, it boils down to a matter of perspective. If you are in one accord with the likes of Perkasa, and ISMA, you would likely view DAP as anti-malays

What A Load Of Gibberish

Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah never fails to find himself in the limelight as a result of his statements. He reportedly said that Christians do not deserve big places of worship as they only make up 10% of Malaysia’s population 

Apparently he was perturbed by the size of the Calvary Convention Centre (CCC) in Bukit Jalil, as it is the largest church in Southeast Asia

It comes as no surprise that Dr Ridhuan Tee is popularly referred to as a ‘controversial columnist.’ Despite all the valuable education he has received (including a PhD in Politics and Government from Universiti Putra Malaysia), he continually succeeds in churning out gibberish

I fail to comprehend what Dr Ridhuan Tee’s problem is with mega churches. Article 11(3)(c) gives every religious group the right ‘to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law’

The construction and existence of mega churches in Malaysia are constitutional, provided everything is right in the eyes of the law

Furthermore, churches aren’t built using public funds. Most, if not all churches have building funds in which members have contributed/contribute money to.

Money from the building fund would then be utilised in the construction, purchase, and/or renovation of any land, building, or property. It would only seem logical that churches are allowed to spend their money as they see fit (provided it is done legally)

Ridhuan Tee went on to say that “Buddhists deserved bigger temples because they accounted for 20% of the population.” Well, instead of talking about it, why not urge the Government to set aside funds for the construction of more Buddhist temples?

In case Ridhuan Tee doesn’t realise, knowing what is right and doing what is right isnt the same. The latter requires initiative and effort while even a primary school kid would side with the former

On his point that “the comfortable conditions enjoyed by the non-Muslims here did not exist in neighbouring countries,” Ridhuan Tee has clearly not done his research about mega churches in Malaysia’s neighboring countries

Upon quick inspection, I came across the Messiah Cathedral in Indonesia which can house more than 4,500 people. Furthermore, City Harvest Church in Singapore has main hall with a capacity of 2,300 as well as 2 halls which can fit 250 people each

Isn’t it pretty evident that the comfortable conditions enjoyed by non-muslims in Malaysia does exist in neighboring countries? Unless of course Dr Ridhuan Tee decides to acknowledge that Indonesia and Singapore are not regarded as “neighboring countries”

If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It would end up joining the long list of things he said which doesn’t make any sense

A Good Example

Out of the blue, Sungai Air Tawar assemblyman Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik decided to table a motion to discuss hudud and its possible implementation in Selangor

What was more shocking was that Selangor Speaker, Hannah Yeoh decided to allow for the motion to be debated in the state legislative assembly

The Selangor Speaker set a good example by allowing hudud to be debated. After all, it is an issue which has been plaguing Malaysians.

Selangorians would definitely want to hear both sides of the political divide arguing their case

Many felt that the motion was to trap Pakatan Rakyat. If Hannah Yeoh were to disapprove of the motion, she would be labelled as anti-Islam, and afraid to deal with the sensitive issue

Despite being criticised for her decision to allow the motion to be debated, Hannah Yeoh stood firm on her principle of being a neutral and fair Speaker to all parties, and maintained her decision

When a motion was tabled to debate about hudud in Terengganu, the Speaker decided to not allow the matter to come to pass.  Barisan Nasional is capable of pushing for hudud in Terengganu as they form the state government by virtue of having the most seats in the state assembly

Isnt it ironic that UMNO decided to talk about hudud in Selangor when they discarded the very same issue in Terengganu?

Unfortunately, Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik decided to withdraw the motion in Selangor. This lead to the rakyat questioning the sincerity of UMNO regarding the issue

As Muslims believe hudud to be God’s law, it should not be manipulated for political gains. Such revolting acts only reflect poorly on spirituality of the perpetrator(s)

As if that wasnt enough, Selangor BN put the onus on PAS to push for hudud in Selangor. Talk about looking at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye but not paying attention to the plank in your eyes!

Moving on, it was reported today that 10 written questions submitted by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (ADUN for Kajang) was rejected by the Selangor state legislative assembly by virtue of exceeding the 40 word limit imposed on each question

Guess who was behind such a bold decision? If you guessed Hannah Yeoh, you are right!

Hannah Yeoh is doing a superb job as a Speaker and is setting a very good precedent for others in a similar position of authority. Her impartiality and strict obedience of the rules is nothing short of praiseworthy!

Ladies and gentlemen, in Hannah Yeoh we have a good example!

*Read it also at The Malaysian Insider and The Malay Mail Online

Practice What You Preach

It was reported on the 7th of June 2014 that our Prime Minister (PM), Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said ‘Putrajaya remains committed to carrying out its duty as a trustworthy and accountable government’

According to Pendidikan Moral, ‘amanah’ (trustworthiness) is defined as a “sikap bertanggungjawab yang boleh menimbulkan kepercayaan dan keyakinan orang lain.” (translated: responsible attitude that invokes the trust and confidence of others)

Even at a tender age, Malaysians are taught about trustworthiness. ‘Amanah’ is presented to schoolchildren as an important moral virtue that a person should have

It is then a good thing that our PM is championing accountability and trustworthiness. Accountability and trustworthiness are expected of the Government as they handle public funds!

However, past reports from the Auditor General have highlighted countless disingenuous activities. The 2012 report contained surprisingly unnecessary overspending. Items were overpayed by thousands of times beyond its actual cost

The Information, Communications and Culture Ministry then issued a statement to justify its expenditure in hopes of escaping the imbroglio. No matter what the explanation, overspending by thousands of times is untenable!

A budget is there for a reason. To limit the amount that can be spent by a particular ministry/department. An important questions is, who benefited from the transaction? And why weren’t the people responsible reprimanded?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the 2013 Auditor General’s report pointed out more malfeasances. The report showed that Malaysia was ‘bleeding itself to death’

Amongst others, the A-G’s report found that the RM343.55 million Paya
Peda Dam development project in Terengganu was 18.49% behind
schedule, the contractor had failed to adhere to contract clauses, inexperienced sub-contractors had been appointed and a sum of RM0.53 million had been paid out inappropriately

Furthermore, funds intended for a malnourished children’s rehabilitation programme being spent on the purchase of assets and equipment, the mismanagement of hospital in-house meals and the ineffective management of petroleum revenues

Clearly there is a lack of accountability and trustworthiness. The Public Accounts Committee may be hauling up ministries involved to explain themselves but no strict action seems to be taken on those who made the questionable decisions

If Putrajaya is truly serious about ‘carrying out its duty as a trustworthy and accountable government,’ come down hard on those wasting public funds! Hard earned taxpayers’ money are being flushed down the toilet or entering the pockets of unscrupulous individuals

With substantial amounts of money being mismanaged, it is no surprise that the general public is against the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Undeniably, GST is a good way to create revenue for the Government

However, if current funds are not handled properly, what’s to stop the revenue gained from GST from being misused? Or worst still, benefiting cronies

Such unethical practices are proof of a lack of a responsible attitude that invokes the trust and confidence of others. Putrajaya must walk the talk. Practice what you preach!

*Check it out at The Malay Mail Online and at Malaysiakini