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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sensitivities of the races

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:52 AM | | Best Blogger Tips

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Bernama highlighted in an article, entitled “The Star asked to do more to soothe hurt feelings” that Malaysia’s Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is still dissatisfied with the newspaper’s response to the mistake of publishing a photograph of a pork dish in the ‘Dining Out’ supplement of the paper.
Being a Supplement pullout section of the newspaper, the article is basically a paid advertorial. While it may be courteous of The Star editor in charge of Supplements to alert the advertiser of the oversight, I think the Home Minister’s arrogance in dealing with the issue has gone a little bit too far – which reflects nothing less than an ungracious attitude.
As a cabinet minister, Hishammuddin has failed to realise that there are other races and religions in this country, and for any race relation to exist, whether it is in Malaysia or elsewhere, there must be mutual respect.

Although I agree that the picture of pork in a section of the paper which promotes dining out during the Ramadan month was out of place, Hishammuddin cannot act as if the whole world revolves around him, and his religion, and nothing else matters.
We have often heard the saying that displaying pork or even publishing a picture of wild boar is being inconsiderate to the feelings of the Muslims. For the sake of argument, I like to turn the table around and ask our Muslim friends, “Do you regard the feelings and sensitivities of people from other races and religions?”
Turn the mirror around
When the decision was made by the religious council of Penang not to broadcast Quran recital in a mosque before the call to morning prayers, the State Government was being dragged into the issue. I thought the decision, which was subsequently followed by Perlis religious council and PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, is laudable because the Prophet Mohammad had never advocated or created disturbance to the community.
I would go as far as saying that Hishammuddin’s game of politics no longer hold water, as people can now see through what was done to Teresa Kok, the Member of Parliament of Seputeh, over the issue of a loud hailer. Later, the mosque committee came forward to speak the truth: that the loud hailer was indeed not functioning, not because they were pressured to tune down the hailer.
Allow me to quote Hishammuddin’s statement at a press conference in Putrajaya: “If a mistake has been made, a very clear apology must be made to Muslims in the country.” What is obvious to me is that Hishammuddin should instead apologise to Teresa Kok, and the people of Malaysia, for raising a sensitive issue without prior investigations – and causing her to be held under ISA for nearly a month, during which the people of Malaysia rallied behind her.
I wish to ask our fellow Malaysians to just stop for a moment to ponder over a number of issues:
- Raid of Dream Centre owned by Damansara Utama Methodist Church by JAIS during a charity fundraising event organized by Malaysian AIDS Council. How do you think the church leaders felt when a function in their holy sanctuary was raided by JAIS officials and the police?
- It reminds me about a raid by JAKIM on a British married, old couple who were making Malaysia as their Second Home, on suspicion that they were having khalwat. How do you think they felt? They are a loving old couple who have been married for many years, but the snoops said it was khalwat?
- While the British old couple finally decided that they would just drop the court case against the Malaysian Government, and return to the United Kingdom, it makes me wonder why the Datuk T involved in a highly-sensitive video did not in the first place call the whole contingent of police, FRU and JAKIM to just raid the hotel room to arrest the actor in the sex scandal? In the first place, don’t you think such a video posted by certain bloggers to discredit Anwar Ibrahim, breaches the sensitivities of most Malaysians, if not Anwar’s own family alone?
- Desecration of the holy sacraments in a Catholic Church by two journalists from a Malay magazine. True to their religious tenets, the Catholics did not shout, “Kill them!” What if someone did the same to a Muslim’s holy sacrament in a mosque? Where are the 95% peace-loving Muslims, when the 5% would do anything, including shedding of blood in the name of the religion, which in the first place believes and promotes peace amongst communities?
- The use of the kalimah Allah by people of other religions. Both the Sikhs and the Christians have for centuries used the name Allah to refer to the One God Almighty, but it is only in Malaysia, Hishammuddin and his likes are banning the use of the Name that cannot, in the first place, be copyrighted. This, despite Nik Aziz (PAS), Anwar Ibrahim (PKR) and the international Muslim ulama, saying that there is no issue about non-Muslims using the name Allah in their religions. This clearly differentiates the ruling party’s stand from the majority of Muslims throughout the world.
- The banning and subsequently the stamping on the Holy Bibles by the Customs, which raised ire amongst the Christian community. This, in my opinion, is the most insensitive and inconsiderate thing that you can do to the Holy Bible, a book revered by some one billion people around the world.
- Serving beef during government-sponsored functions, which had caused a number of journalists to stage a walk-out. I wonder, come the Raya Open House by the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers, will they still serve rendang beef the way how non-Muslims treat their Muslim guests respectfully by choosing to serve only halal food during social functions when they know there are Muslims amongst their guests?
- The spitting and stomping of a cow head by a group of Malay demonstrators in front of the Selangor State Government. Until today, Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein has never been able to produce the names of some PAS members who were allegedly involved, despite Khalid Samad challenging him to produce the names.
- A failed attempt by a trader to hand over a set of the underwear to Ng Wei Aik, political secretary to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Another attempt by the same trader to hand over a coffin, another taboo to the Chinese, previously to Ng. What does Hishammuddin have to say to such a behavior
- Accusation by UMNO-linked Utusan Malaysia that Christians were in collusion with Guan Eng to set up a Christian state. This, in my opinion, is the most absurd of all accusations because the Bible clearly forbids the taking of oaths.
- Firebombing of churches at a time when the Allah issue was hot. Despite the High Court having ruled to lift up the ban, the Home Ministry and the BN Government chose to continue on with the controversy. How do you think the Christian community in East and West Malaysia felt during this period of crisis?
- During the same time, two mosques in Taman Sri Sentosa were desecrated when wild boar heads, wrapped in plastics, were thrown into the compounds. There seems to be no outcome from the police investigation, but at the back of my mind, I always wonder why the wild boar heads had to be plastic wrapped, if the dirty job was done by a non-Muslim in the first place!
    I am not surprised that Islam has been abused by some politicians to a point, that my Muslim friends would agree that it touches the sensitivities of the Muslim community as well. Why is it that their religion is being used by some corrupted politicians in the political war game?
    In Malaysia, we have always talked about the social contract, which in my opinion can only exist when there is mutual respect between the races, not when some arrogant politicians use religion to pit one race against another, and take advantage of the outcome in order to remain in power.
    With all due respect, I have a lot more respect for PAS these days. Never mind about Dr Hassan Ali, the former PAS Selangor Chief, I would vote for PAS out of respect for their religion. As for Hassan, he has been voted out by his own party for going against the aspirations of his party. He tries to project himself in the name of protecting his religion, as if it is never in the interest of PAS leaders like Nik Aziz or Mat Sabu to protect Islam!

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