Month: November 2014

Perkasa’s New Direction?

national unity convention

Perkasa seems to be getting more and more dissatisfied with UMNO’s performance in defending malay rights. A coalition of Malay rights groups (including Perkasa) plans to submit a memorandum to the Government, touching on issues like the abolition of vernacular schools and the limitation of PTPTN loan exemptions to only bumiputeras

As of 2013, Perkasa claims to have a membership of around 500,000 (an impressive feat considering it has only been around since 2008). If the numbers prove to be true, perhaps instead of supplementing UMNO, Perkasa should become a political party and give UMNO a run for their money

I know many of us would balk at the idea of seeing a Perkasa candidate on our ballot paper. However, a hallmark of a democratic society is the presence of competitive and unique political parties (ethnic supremacist groups included)

Case in point, the United Kingdom. The UK has the British National Party (BNP), which is their very own version of Perkasa. The reason I liken BNP to Perkasa is because amongst other things, the former advocates white nasionalism

In regards to legal immigrants settled in UK, the BNP “recognises the right of legally settled and law-abiding minorities to remain in the UK and enjoy the full protection of the law, on the understanding that the indigenous population of Britain has the right to remain the majority population of our nation”.

It offers however voluntary repatriation where “generous grants to those of foreign descent resident here who wish to leave permanently”

It is important to note that BNP has no representative in the House of Commons or the European Parliament. This could possibly mean that the people of UK generally do not subscribe to BNP’s principles

Only by running for elections will Perkasa know if the people truly supports its ideologies. Perhaps Perkasa could outdo UMNO as its far-right stance may appeal to certain segments of society more than UMNO’s new centrist direction under the command of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

It wouldn’t be fair to gauge Perkasa’s wealth of potential just by looking at its president’s failure to recapture Pasir Mas in the 13th General Election.

After all, just because Ibrahim Ali lost his beloved parliamentary seat (which he has been contesting in without fail since 1986) to a political novice doesn’t mean the people dont want him right?

Futhermore, considering Perkasa supposedly has 500,000 members, it shouldn’t be too difficult to field a candidate for every parliamentary seat up for grabs in the next general election

Even IF 60% of Perkasa members happen to also be UMNO members, in the event of a mass exodus to UMNO, Perkasa would still have 200,000 members give or take a few

In the hypothetical situation whereby Perkasa fields 222 candidates for election to be members of Parliament, the malay supremacist group would still have plenty of manpower to go around campaigning and garnering for support. Talk about strength in numbers!

Instead of complaining and whining that UMNO does a dreadful job in upholding the Bumiputera agenda, Perkasa should play a more active role in the 14th general election and not shy away from the challenge. I’d honestly love to see the reception of the rakyat (people) towards Perkasa.

*Check it out also at The Malaysian Insider , Free Malaysia Today, Malaysia Today, and Malaysia Chronicle

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Kiki vs Khoo

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(Source: Free Malaysia Today)

I believe Kiki Kamaruddin needs no further introduction. She is famous (or infamous) enough because of her actions four months ago

Khoo, however, is the new “Kiki Kamaruddin” if you will. He damaged another driver’s wiper and side mirror, as well as spat on her windscreen because she honked at him for changing lanes recklessly.

How he felt he is in the right is beyond my comprehension. On top of that absurdity, he is 58 years old, and one would reasonably expect him to have been more skilled when it comes to driving.

Anyway, the reason I am writing this is because there are netizens accusing a certain group of Malaysians of practicing double standards. They say that mainly because that group of people were more vocal in Kiki’s case

Prima facie, both situations have a material difference. Kiki was being a racist road bully towards Uncle Sim. Just a recap of some of the things she said:

“you think you are Chinese that you are bigger and better than us!”

“tak, dia cina, saya tahu dia punya intention” (no, he’s Chinese, I know his intention)

Khoo is obviously a road bully too, but he did not racially abuse Alisa. Perhaps if he uttered derogatory/racist words to Alisa, the backlash would have likely been bigger

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that what Khoo did was justified and should not be objurgated because he did not racially abuse the other party. I believe both Khoo and Kiki were legally wrong, and as such, should be punished heavily as a deterrent for themselves and others

All I’m saying is that we should not turn everything into a racial issue. Regardless of the race of the road bully or the victim, the perpetrator must face the legal consequences of his/her actions.

As Malaysians, let us unite to condemn road bullying. Let this be a future lesson to all existing road-bullies and road-bullies-to-be that their behaviour is not tolerable and WHEN they are caught, they WILL face the full brunt of the law

*Check it out at The Malaysian Insider, Malaysian Chronicle, and Free Malaysia Today

The Future Of PR

It has now become more and more apparent that PAS and DAP don’t play well together. Ever since the Selangor Menteri Besar imbroglio, blows have been traded repeatedly ad nauseam

Over the past few weeks, the issue on the table has been PAS President, Dato Seri Haji Hadi Awang (HA)’s absence from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) presidential council meetings

In all fairness, HA is an elderly man and is thus more prone to sicknesses. For the sake of the betterment of PR, shouldn’t HA temporarily delegate his ultimate decision-making power to a trusted right hand man? Or at least step down in order that a physically fit person may take the helm

Yes, PAS does send its representatives (namely deputy president Mohamad Sabu and vice-president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man) for PR presidential council meetings. However, if you have been following the recent criticisms by DAP, it centers around HA having veto power and yet being absent from the meetings

Basically, whatever is agreed upon by the PAS representatives in the presidential council meetings may be overruled by HA at the end of the day. Thus, DAP has a valid point when it says that a PR presidential council meeting without HA is akin to PAS being absent

It is clearly undemocratic for a political party leader to have veto power in every matter considering other leaders are also elected by the members of the party. As cliche as it sounds, there is a lot of truth to the saying “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton)

If PAS refuses to sort out the aforementioned issues, PR’s effectiveness as a coalition would undeniably be adversely affected, and PR may need to reconsider its composition. After all, you can’t join the school but refuse to wear the uniform!

Just like when Britain entered the European Union (then known as the European Community) in 1973, it had to subject itself to EU treaties, regulations, directives, and European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions despite having done things its own way for centuries

A good example of PR’s effectiveness being hindered would be when the PR presidential council accepted the proposal for Datuk Seri Wan Azizah to be nominated as the new Selangor MB, and HA ended up vetoing the decision and nominating candidates of his liking

Another problematic issue is PAS’ continuous insistence on implementing hudud. Prior to the 13th General Election, PAS seemed to have abandoned its hudud agenda by pursuing a benevolent state concept.

Needless to say, the whole “Pas For All” election slogan, gained PAS the votes of many non-muslims who were unsure of PAS yet wanted a regime change. However, after GE 13, PAS reverted back to advocating hudud

Since PAS is seriously considering implementing hudud in Kelantan and has taken many steps to realise it (e.g. a federal-level hudud technical committee, finalising that “trained professionals” will be carrying out the amputations), it is high time for PKR and DAP to consider whether to move on without PAS

PAS’ move may gain support from the more hard line Islamists, but it is sure to cause loss of votes for PR because DAP and PKR will be seen as being inable to influence PAS to abandon its wishes for hudud.

A PR without PAS would most definitely appeal to the more progressive Malaysians. Will we see a PR coalition without PAS/DAP? Or will we see PR end up just like Barisan Alternatif? Or will PR learn how to sort out its differences and work together? Only time will tell

On a side note, if UMNO Kelantan supports PAS’ efforts (which is has in the past), it is time for MCA, MIC, and Gerakan to reconsider its partnership in BN. After all, what’s the point of being in a coalition if your view doesn’t matter?

*This awesome article appeared in The Malay Mail Online, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, and Free Malaysia Today

Bibles and Selangor

Many of us would like to express our gratitude to Selangor MB, Azmin Ali for orchestrating the return of the Malay and Iban language bibles which were seized by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) in January 2014

Under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution (which contains the legislative lists), religion is under the purview of the state

As per Frank Murphy (former US Supreme Court judge), “religious freedom is too sacred a right to be restricted or prohibited in any degree without convincing proof that a legitimate interest of the state is in grave danger”

Although religious issues are under the scope of the state, it is trite law that state enactments cannot contradict the Federal Constitution which is the ultimate law of the land.

Prima facie, the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988 is constitutional as it is made as per Article 11(4) Federal Constitution which allows for laws to be made to control or restrict the propogation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam

Under section 9(1)(a) of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988,

a person commits an offence if he in any published writing uses any of the words listed in Part I of the Schedule, or any of its derivatives or variations, to express or describe any fact, belief, idea, concept, act, activity, matter, or thing of or pertaining to any non-Islamic religion

At first glance it appears as though as the Malay and Iban bibles breached s. 9(1)(a) by virtue of containing “Allah.” However, there shouldn’t be an offence under the enactment for the following reasons

Firstly, there is no proof of propogation because the bibles were taken from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM)’s premises. At most, JAIS can say they acted under suspicion, but whether their suspicion is reasonable is a different story

Then BSM president, Lee Min Choon, pointed out that all its Malay bibles were imprinted with a picture of the cross and the words ‘Penerbitan Kristian’ on the cover and noted that the Home Ministry regularly inspects its bible shipment imports .

This is a huge sacrifice on the part of BSM to abide by the law in order to ensure that its customers may have access to Malay bibles

As to why the bibles are in our national language, “more than 60 per cent of Malaysian Christians only speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the word used for God in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Al-Kitab) since its translation in 1731, is “Allah.”

“The word is used by Bumiputera Christians who only have Bahasa Malaysia as their common language in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, and by the Baba community in Malacca” (Christian Federation of Malaysia)

Regarding why the Bibles are in Selangor and not in Sabah and Sarawak, it is important to note that BSM is the one that imports, prints and distributes Malay bibles to Sarawak and Sabah (as per Nic Ng, BSM’s executive council member). Perhaps the bibles were in storage awaiting importation?

Even if some of the bibles were not to be imported, it shouldn’t be an issue that the bibles are in Selangor because there are Malay speaking Christians in peninsula Malaysia (e.g. sabahans and sarawakians who come over looking for jobs)

If Malay language bibles aren’t allowed in Selangor, it would most definitely infringe on the right of the Malay speaking Christians to freely practice their religion (enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution)

In June, after much investigation and deliberation, the Attorney-General (AG) accurately concluded that JAIS erred in seizing the bibles and ordered for the case to be closed.

US Politician, Mike Quigley once wisely said that the “protection of religious freedom means considering the faiths and beliefs of everyone involved.”

In future, JAIS and other religious enforcement agencies should not be so overzealous, especially when dealing with holy books of other religions. Perhaps a more thorough investigation (which would have made the raid unnecessary) could have prevented this dark dent in our history

Even if the roles were reversed and Qur’ans were superfluously seized, right thinking Malaysians would stand up and speak out against the blatant infringement of the freedom of religion!

*This awesome article featured in The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, Malaysia Chronicle, and The Malay Mail Online

The Use Of “Allah”

The whole “Allah” issue has somewhat been a thorn in our flesh. Just recently, Selangor MB, Azmin Ali exclaimed that the siezed Bibles belongs to the Christians and should thus be returned to them.

Abu Bakar Yahya (Selangor Perkasa chief) then expressed his concern that Azmin’s action of returning the Bibles with the word “Allah” in them would “…threaten the future of Malay Muslim youth. This means Islam is under threat”

Despite the fact that the Christian Federation of Malaysia wrote an article explaining when, why, and how the word “Allah” is used in the Al-Kitabs, there is still a general lack of understanding amongst Malaysians.

Let me now clarify that I’m not a religious scholar or even remotely trained in the field of comparative religions. I am just a Malaysian who is trying to be objective about the use of the word “Allah” by Christians

Let us consider the following propositions:

Proposition 1: “Allah” is an arabic word

Many academics hold the view that the word “Allah” is derived from the arabic words “al” (the) and “ilah” (god/deity).

“Allah is formed by joining the definite article al meaning ‘the’ with Ilah (God). Literally, Allah means ‘The God’.” [Huston Smith, The World’s Religions, p.222]

“Etymologically, Allah is probably a contraction of the Arabic al-ilahh, “the God,” although the Aramaic Alaha has also been proposed. The origin of the name can be traced to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for god was Il or El, the latter bring in the Old Testament synonym for Yahweh. Known to Arabs even in pre-Islamic times, Allah is standard Arabic for God and is used by Arab Christians as well as Muslims.” [Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia (Vol. 1; p. 250)]

Renowned Iranian-American scholar of religious studies, Reza Aslan also supports this proposition

[d] (k) r ‘l’-’lh bn’mt Mnfw w-Tlh’ bn Mr’ l-Qys w-Srgw bn S’dw w-Strw w-Syl [.] thw.

The apparent scribblings above is actually a pre-Islamic archaeological inscription (dated ca. 512AD) found in Zabad (60km south-east of Aleppo) that shows the word al-ilah was already used by Christians then

Operating on the assumption that “Allah” was derived from “al” and “ilah,” the only apparent requirement to the use of the Arabic word would be monotheism. As we all know, words must be used according to its meaning, and in the proper context

A huge misconception is that Christians believe and worship three gods, hence their usage of the “Allah” word is erroneous. That could not be further from the truth!

The doctrine of the Trinity refers to ONE God who exists as THREE distinct persons. The fact that Christians believe in and worship only ONE God would render their usage of the word “Allah” according to its meaning and in the proper context

If “Allah” is truly an Arabic word, it’s definition would be based on its meaning and not what the Qur’an says in Surah Al-Ikhlas (112th Sura of the Qur’an) or what other sources say are the prerequisite to the use of the word

Many scholars have also brought forward the idea that the use of “Allah” predates Islam

The word ‘Allah’ was a term used for the supreme God in a pantheon of gods, before the revelation of Islam. (The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam ed., H.A.R. Gibb & J.H.Kramer and The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito)

“The name Allah is also evident in archaeological and literary remains of pre Islamic Arabia” (Dr Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret , New York:OUP, 1956, p. 31)

“Allah is found . . . in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam” ( Encyclopedia Britannica, I:643)

The translation of the Al-Kitab is not from the English translation but based on the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible. In the Hebrew language, the word ‘God’ has the same root form as the Arabic language. So, when the word ‘God’ was first translated into Bahasa Malaysia, the translators merely followed the Arabic Christian usage and retained the word ‘Allah’

Historically, Malay-speaking Christians in South-East Asia have used ‘Allah’ to refer to God. The proofs are as follows:

• The Kitab salat as-sawai or Christian catechisms in Malay written in 1514 and published around 1545,

• The printed version of the Gospel of Matthew in Malay by A.C. Ruyl in 1629,

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• Malay-Latin Dictionary was printed in Rome in 1631 (The Dictionarium Malaicum-Latinum and Latinum – Malaicum)

• The translation of Genesis by D. Brouwerius (1662),

• M. Leijdecker’s translation (1733),

• H.C. Klinkert’s translation (1879),

• W.A. Bode’s translation (1938), and

• The complete Malay Bible of 1731-1733 containing the word ‘Allah’ for God.

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There is also a book from the 19th century titled “Porkara Terakhir” (The Final Matter). It is a book of prayers for Catholics in native Malay. A text in the book goes, “Ia, Maha Penebus ku, tiap kali beita sudah buat dosa, sudahlah beita mengalau angkau deri hati ku, sambel choba membunoh Allah sabuleh nha…” It is a day-to-day language of the ancient or olden Malay Language; sentences like that do not exist in the Indonesian language

Furthermore, there is a Catholic prayer book titled “Worship Daily”, published in 1890, which also used ancient Malay. An example of a text in the book is “Sapuloh Penhurohan Allah”, which is the 10 Pillars of Biblical Commandments (Ten Commandments). Note how both of those books use the word “Allah” to mean God

Not many of us are aware by this but even the Sikh holy book mentions “Allah” quite a number of times. Surprisingly we don’t hear the likes of Perkasa and ISMA creating a ruckus over this fact.

Proposition 2: “Allah” is not an Arabic word

“Allah … is a proper name applied to the Being Who exists necessarily, by Himself, comprising all the attributes of perfection, a proper name denoting the true god … the al being inseparable from it, not derived…” (Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon)

If Allah is not an arabic word, is it only exclusive to muslims considering their worldwide usage? In January 2013, PAS’ Syura Council decreed that “Allah” is a specific and holy word used to refer to the Muslims’ god

However, former Perlis mufti, Dato’ Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said that Islam allows for followers of other faiths to call their gods “Allah” if they are referring to the Supreme Being

Swiss-Muslim theologian Dr Tariq Ramadan is also of the opinion that “Allah” is not exclusive to the Muslims

According to Francis Edwards Peters , “The Qur’ān insists, Muslims believe, and historians affirm that Muhammad and his followers worship the same God as the Jews (29:46)

If indeed no one but the muslims are allowed to use “Allah,” wouldn’t Saudi Arabia (where Islam came from) and Indonesia (the country with the largest population of muslims in the world) have said/did something about it a long time ago?

Instead, what we see is that the usage of “Allah” is tolerated and is not even a point of contention in those countries (unlike here in Malaysia)

Now let’s look at some frequently asked questions

FAQ 1: Why must the Christians use BM?

First and foremost, BM is the national language. On top of that, more than 60 per cent of Malaysian Christians only speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the word used for God in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Al-Kitab) since its translation in 1731, is ‘Allah’.

The word is used by Bumiputera Christians who only have Bahasa Malaysia as their common language in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, and by the Baba community in Malacca.

Nowehere in English, Tamil or Mandarin church services would you hear the word “Allah” being mentioned

FAQ 2: Why don’t Christians use “Tuhan” as the BM translation for “God”?

The current position in the Al-Kitab is that “Tuhan” is used as the BM translation for “Lord” while “Allah” is used for “God.” In Isaiah chapter 41 and verse 13; also 43:3 and 51:15. “For I am the LORD, your GOD…” is translated as “Akulah TUHAN, ALLAH kamu…”. (ALKITAB : Berita Baik. 2001. 2nd edition. Published by the Bible Society of Malaysia).

It creates an absurd situation if Christians have to translate the biblical phrase ‘Lord God’ as Tuhan Tuhan. The repeated words Tuhan Tuhan indicates plurality in Bahasa Malaysia, and creates the false impression that Christians believe in many gods, which is fundamentally incorrect theologically

FAQ 3: Why doesn’t the Vatican or Christians in the West use “Allah”?

The answer is pretty simple. If “Allah” is an arabic word for “God”, the Vatican and the Christians in the West wouldn’t need to use it because they have other word(s) in their language(s) to mean “God”

A basic analogy would be the word “makan” which is the BM word for “eat.” How come we never ask why the Vatican or Westerners don’t use the word “makan”? That’s because it’s common sense that in whatever language they speak, there would be a word/words that mean “eat,” hence there is no need for the word “makan”

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI used “Al-Rab” when giving a blessing in Arabic. Many Malaysians then got the idea that instead of using “Allah,” why not follow the Pope and use “Al-Rab”?

First of all, Al-Rab is arabic for “The Lord” and NOT “The God.” Therefore, even if the Christians in Malaysia were to use “Al-Rab,” it would only be replacing the word “Tuhan” and not the word “Allah” in the Al-Kitab

Besides that, the literal meaning of the word “Rab” is Sustainer , Master and/or “Nourisher” which bears more resemblance with the English word “Lord” than “God”

FAQ 4: Why not use “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” instead?

The answer is similar to that of FAQ 1. Jehovah is a Latinisation of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH). YHWH is in ancient Hebrew which has no vowels, thus its pronunciation is not agreed on.

However, most academics agree that “Yahweh” is the most accepted way to say it. In some English language Bibles, YHWH is written in all capital letters as “LORD,” as in Jewish tradition

Jehovah and Yahweh are in English. The issue is, how do we convert the original Hebrew word to BM in order that it may be used in the Al-Kitab? And even IF that’s possible, how do you change hundreds of years of using “Allah” to this new word?

Sources:
Christian Federation of Malaysia’s article
Project Dialogue’s interview of Father Andrew 
The Micah Mandate
Bible Believers
PLIM Report
Sikhi Wiki
The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement