Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Archive for the ‘Freedom of Speech’ Category

The Ban on Christians Reading Allah

When I was growing up I had a number of bad experiences with Christian friends trying to convert me. I’ll leave the details for another article but most of the time they would use deception by tricking me into joining their social outings that included prayers, chanting, singing hymns etc. Once the religious nature of the activity was revealed there would be an awkward situation as I excused myself. They did not respect my right to refuse, insisting that my faith was ‘wrong’ and I ‘needed to be saved’. Sometimes we would be friends for years and suddenly they would pressure me to join their faith. I have even seen Christians enter relationships with non-believers for the purpose of converting the other. I’m not making this up.

I don’t care what religion you come from but if the person you are trying to convert is not interested in listening to your preaching then you should just leave him be. Don’t force them to listen or use deception. You can’t expect people to respect your faith if you don’t respect theirs.

I initially found myself conflicted when the Roman Catholic Archbishop as publisher of The Herald went to court to get the right to use Allah to refer to God in the publication. I haven’t met a religious Christian in this country who accepts that we both worship the same God but in different ways. I have also met religious Christians who find the idea of using Allah in that context to be insulting. Obviously Christians themselves are divided on this issue.

What is the issue really? What problems could it cause? I think back to my own bad experiences. If I did not have a strong grounding in my faith, and a group of friends came up to me asking for me to join them in prayer to Allah – I would say yes. If everyone spoke in Malay and someone preached teachings from God I would listen and take it to heart. I would be happily learning about Christianity, all the while thinking it was Islam. At some point my friends would lift the veil and reveal that all that the activities that had been giving me comfort and joy were Christian activities, and Islam isn’t providing me with any of this so I should become a Christian.

So I will admit that I felt a bit uneasy because I wasn’t sure why The Herald publisher wanted to use Allah instead of Tuhan (a generic Malay word for God, used in a monotheistic context).

I soon learned that this use of Allah issue is mainly for the benefit of Sabah and Sarawak where Malaysians have been practicing Christianity in Malay for a long time, where they do use Allah instead of Tuhan. It should be a non-issue then as there is a pre-existing use of the word Allah by the church.

So why is the BN-led Federal Government playing up this issue? Why file a stay of execution on the court ruling? The Home Ministry banned the use of the word by the publisher; the publisher went to court; court ruled in favour of the publisher – it should have ended there. Dragging it out further just continues to reinforce the message that the current government suppresses the rights of Christians, Sabahans and Sarawakians.

I know that Allah is merely Arabic for God. I do support the right of Christians to print Malay bibles and related publications for their followers. Religion should not be constrained by language because it’s easier to understand if it is written in your native language. I myself have an English Al-Quran because I understand English better than any other language, and a trusted fellow Muslim recommended the translation that I have. It should be alright to use Allah in a Malay-medium Christian publication whether in Peninsular or East Malaysia.

But I can’t completely shake off the fear that young Muslims will undergo more subversive conversion tactics such as the one I described. I don’t know if you, the reader, have experienced what I have but I’m glad I did because it helps me understand why many Malay Muslims are riled up about the court ruling and plan to protest today. Without my bad experiences I too would join the many bloggers out there condemning these protestors.

If I had not been exposed to foreign culture, not learned about other religions, and stayed in one town for most of my life then I would be quite narrow minded. It is easy to criticise the mentality of the poorly educated. What I feel the government should do is accept the ruling and allow The Herald to use Allah, and focus on improving religious education at school. Better yet have a Proposition for people to vote on so each state can have its own ruling on this issue. If that is not possible then let the State Assemblies vote on it for their respective states.

Remember, there are many Muslims in this country that don’t use Internet and have a poor command of English which limits their access to television shows and newspapers. Mention of Christians using Allah in their publications is very offensive to them – even PAS is internally divided on this issue.

I have more to say, but I have not been watching this issue very closely and I’m still playing catch-up. I’ll write further on this issue soon.

Advertisements

Written by ak57

January 8, 2010 at 8:06 am

Bersih’s Memorandum Delivery

Police today stopped polls reform group Bersih from holding a press conference in front of Istana Negara and in the process arrested PKR’s Information Chief Tian Chua. Also arrested was a PAS member identified as Jalaluddin Abdul Manap.The police had maintained a close watch on the group and moved in as soon as Bersih called for a press conference after submitting their memorandum at about 3pm.Tian Chua was arrested when he tried to prevent the police from confiscating a Bersih banner while Jalaluddin was arrested after he ignored a police warning to stop distributing leaflets calling the EC chairperson ‘a liar’.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 15th February 2008 (link)

Three members from the poll reform group Coalition For Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) were released unconditionally today.

When contacted, their lawyer Amer Hamzah said no reasons were given for their unconditional release.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 18th February 2008 (link)

Bersih went to the palace on 16th February 2008 to hand over a memorandum/protest note (link) to the King, and as expected some token arrests were made. What bothers me is how well everything seemed to progress at first.

  1. First group arrives, police and press present
  2. Second group arrives (including Tian Chua and Irene Fernandez) but police refused to allow them to proceed to the gate where the others were
  3. Police limited 4 Bersih members to p2roceed to the gate to hand over their memorandum
  4. Some Bersih members held up a Bersih banner
  5. Immediately after the memorandum was handed over, Bersih decides to hold a press conference despite warnings by the police not to
  6. Police arrest Tian Chua after he tried to prevent police from confiscating a Bersih banner
  7. Police arrest Jalaluddin Abdul Manap after he refused to stop distributing leaflets

The moment Bersih held up a protest banner, it stopped being a ‘hand over of memorandum’ and became a protest/demonstration. The moment they called for a press conference outside the Istana gate, the message heard by the police was, “Lets have an illegal gathering to answer questions”. It makes me wonder whether Bersih members purposely give the police an excuse to arrest them solely to generate more publicity. They must realise that the police are watching their every move, waiting to find a legal basis for arrest.

Since you can’t hold press conferences wherever you feel like it, what is wrong with walking back to your car/bus stop/LRT and answering questions asked by the reporters hounding you? That’s not an illegal gathering. In fact after being foiled by the police, Bersih held a press conference at PAS headquarters in town, which went perfectly well. I take that as proof that a press conference outside the palace gates was wholly unnecessary.

Why was the banner needed if all that was planned was merely a memorandum handover? Sigh.

It got worse at the Brickfields police station that night. Ginie Lim (part of PKR’s Information Bureau) was arrested for taking photos of the arresting officer. I have heard that it is illegal to take photos inside a police station, for obvious security reasons(sorry I don’t know the relevant Act offhand), so its not unexpected.

However it goes to show the mindset of our people now, where the police are viewed as criminals whose name, badge number and photograph need to be taken and kept on record. So that in the event that something happens to Tian Chua, at least Ginie would have that information. I’m pointing this out because its easy to just label Ginie a ‘crazy rebel’ instead of taking the time to understand.

The problem that I see here is that persons like Tian Chua and Ginie Lim are too important to the inner workings of their party to take part in such events especially when elections are literally 3 weeks away. This is when the Information Bureau should be busiest (unless PKR has a different group of people handling information distribution *shrugs*).

So I sincerely hope they do not participate in such events and leave themselves open to arrest in future. I do not agree with the actions police took, but getting arrested so close to elections really does no good.

The three of them were held in remand until 18th February, whereupon they were released unconditionally. A clear case of abuse of power by the police, that (unsurprisingly) merely got a footnote in the papers. I wonder whether the police will start arresting more Opposition people in the weeks to come 

Written by ak57

February 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm

ISA Sooner Than Expected

DepressedI can’t believe its Thursday night already – been sleeping more than usual due to feeling depressed. Why? Because there’s just too much news to follow and digest, none of which is pleasant to read. Why did the police repeatedly detain and free Uthayakumar? To collect more bail from the poor fellow? Now he and the others have been put under ISA (not Waythamoorthy though, not sure where he is – overseas perhaps?). Sixty days of isolation followed by at least two years of prison. It is a shame I never bothered to go and meet the man and offer help, I am uncertain now who will take over HINDRAF’s struggle or maintain their website, www.policewatchmalaysia.com.

Written by ak57

December 13, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Depressing chain of events

Very SadI am so sad and tired – events this past one and a half months has left little time for me to juggle work and keeping up to date on the ongoing demonisation of the Opposition, NGOs – anyone that questions the status quo basically. It has been quite a while since my last post and comic, but here are the things I plan on writing on hopefully by Christmas:

  1. The November Bersih Rally
  2. The Hindraf Rally
  3. The mockery of Human Right’s Day by the government
  4. The crackdown after that

Written by ak57

December 12, 2007 at 11:25 am

Incoming Horde Not A Challenge

Bersih gathering an act of defiance: PM

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 9, 2007): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today condemned the Coalition for Free and Fair Election (Bersih) for its defiance of authority in deciding to carry on with its illegal assembly tomorrow.

“I’ve heard from the police that they will not be given a permit (for the assembly) but I’ve seen from reports and I’ve heard from sources that the organisation wants to continue.

“This shows their stubbornness. I’m very disappointed with this act as this will cause a lot of problems,” he said in his winding-up speech at the Umno General Assembly which ended on schedule.

“Are they challenging the government and the leadership? They are challenging and ignoring the law. That’s what they’re challenging, not me. But I will not be challenged!” he said, to cheers from the congregation.

Abdullah said Malaysia enjoyed peace and stability because she upholds the rule of law.

He said the demonstration was not the way to bring change.

“This is not our way; this is not the way of Malaysia. Ours is democracy and this (the gathering) is not acceptable.

“The police have asked them to stop and when untoward incidents happen, they blame the police, when in fact, it is their doing,” he said.

In addressing Bersih’s concern for change, he said: “What changes do they want? Wait for the election!”

The Election Commission – often the target of the Coalition’s criticism – is putting up transparent boxes, and had approved the use of indelible ink, Abdullah said, adding that the country’s practice of democracy had allowed opposition wins in every election.

“I hope the people will understand that this wayside democracy is not the way to effect change and will not accept this move. People are willing change in a peaceful way. Not this way.

“How can they be leaders (when they ignore the law)? The law must be upheld and respected,” he said.

– quoted from an article published in The Sun on 9th November 2007 (link)

Looking back at this earlier article I can say that i agree with the PM on one point – when bad things happen the organisers would (and did) blame the police. The fact is that the police denied the permit and warned against the march, anyone going should have expected to be arrested, tear gassed and sprayed by the FRU.

A vast majority of the people who did go were very, very lucky indeed, as only the unfortunate ones at Masjid Jamek bore the brunt of the standard FRU dispersal tactics. Anyone from the Reformasi 1999 days can tell you far worse stories.

Will talk about this more in a later post, still going thru a stack of articles sigh 😦

Ignoring BERSIH’s demands and saying to ‘wait for the election’ doesn’t make a lick of sense sir, all the changes they are demanding need to be made before elections. Oh no, I hope the PM doesn’t make more statements like this in the future, maybe Nazri Logic is contagious 😉

The part where the PM said he will not be challenged, or ‘saya pantang dicabar!’ was sad and funny at the same time – don’t talk like a dictator sir!

Dictator Talk #1

Written by ak57

November 15, 2007 at 10:04 pm

A Pleasant Surprise

I felt a bit lost today, desparately trying to find live news coverage of the protest. After searching the Internet high and low my main sources of news ended up being :

  1. www.harakahdaily.net
  2. www.suarakeadilan.com
  3. www.malaysiakini.com (especially this map)
  4. ntbn.wordpress.com

No bloggers blogging from their mobile phone? Updates on the sites I mentioned were sporadic and the network was awfully slow. Bersih.org seemed to be back up but I’m not sure about that since it was password protected so no luck there.

It rained heavily today, no doubt to the government’s advantage. The LRT station at Masjid Jamek was shutdown by 2 pm, even Central Market was closed. The pleasant surprise to me was that there was no violence. Yes there was tear gassing and water cannon spraying but nothing beyond that thank goodness. Despite Harakah Daily reporting that the police sent out swarms of men to arrest people at random after the memorandum was delivered, no such thing occurred according to my friends who attended the event.

Unfortunately there were some arrests, at least 20 people though at this moment the exact figure is still unknown. Also the police roadblocks all over town and on the Federal Highway created massive traffic jams having effect all the way to Petaling Jaya. I hope the people arrested today get out soon.

I was a bit disappointed that no Opposition leaders were reported marching with the crowd, especially Anwar Ibrahim despite saying this morning that he would. He did show up at the Istana just in time on a motorcycle though, very cool and very brave 🙂

50,000 people gathered today. No violence by police. Memorandum delivered to the King. So overall I would say it was an historic, awesome day 🙂

Written by ak57

November 10, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Posted in Freedom of Speech, Human Rights

Tagged with ,

Prelude to Bersih March

A rally is going to take place at Dataran Merdeka less than 12 hours from now. A rally that has been reported by the government as an illegal gathering, and as such you are 100% guilty of committing a crime if you attend. Should you go?

If you are physically able to and have no commitments tying you down in case you are arrested for an extended period then go, show your support for a non-corrupt election process, protest the evils of our present government. I have not attended such a large gathering since the Reformasi days, even then it was not organised on a scale as great as this one.

Even though the police have publicly announced they will detain those who attend, I imagine that it will be a difficult journey. The path from Dataran Merdeka to Istana Negara is not easy and it is impossible for a mob to travel it without disturbing traffic flow. Would a gathering alone not have sufficed?

Sigh..it is hard..I have been thinking about this problem of opposing the government for many years, and it is just too easy for the government to take advantage of lack of foresight on opposition entities’ part.

Despite the organisers stating that it is a peaceful protest, it has been well established that our government does not support the people’s right to assembly and protest. It is impossible for the organisers to maintain peace, there are bound to be agent provocateurs to incite violence 😦 Any gathering that is open to all people is also open to trouble makers, it is just an unfortunate reality to accept.

How do you react when some hothead starts spewing racial slurs and throwing things at police? Hit the hothead? Then police will arrest you for violent behaviour, your supporters will get angry, shoving starts – BAM! Riot starts!

Perhaps the organisers have a plan to form a chain of people locking hands, establishing a zone of peaceful protestors – any potential rioters can then be peacefully pushed out of the zone. That’s one idea of the top of my head. I just hope that there is no communications blackout to prevent people from posting news as it happens.

Don’t misunderstand, I do support peaceful protests. It is just that given the laws in place, government agent provocateurs and police brutality, that makes it nigh impossible to have one. This rally is a last resort, to show the government the massive support of the people for a just honourable government and election system.

More than 5,000 people from across the country..sigh, I wish I could go but disabilities prevent me. I truly hope this is not going to be a day of public tragedy. If you are going, be prepared for a hasty escape if the situation turns extremely violent – better to live to vote on election day and help foster opposition in the hearts of those who blindly support the government 🙂

Good luck supporters of justice!

BERSIH Solidarity

Written by ak57

November 10, 2007 at 4:19 am