Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our national monument is now history

When I read the following report in The Malaysian Insider, I just asked myself, "What in the world were these people thinking?" Eleven thousand soldiers died defending the country and they think the eleven thousand are all Malay Muslims. What about the non-Muslims? They cannot be remembered in Putra Jaya because they are not Muslims. So the question is, where are they going to be remembered now?

For those not in the know, the National Monument was the brainchild of the late Tunku which was commissioned in 1963. Felix de Weldon, the same guy who did the Iwo Jima Monument was assigned the task which was officially declared opened on February 8 1966 by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.

In my younger days when I was working as a tourist guide, I was always proud to show tourists our Malaysian monument to commemorate our fallen heroes because those who died fighting for our country were Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, etc. What a pity that it is now a Malay monument and no longer Malaysian. The DPM was right. It is Malay first. For the non-Malays who fought so gallantly and died, it was all for nothing, I guess.

And UMNO is still wondering why non-Malays are not joining the armed forces.

Muslim scholars welcome the decision to shift the Warrior’s Day celebrations from the National Monument to Putrajaya in line with Islamic teachings against idolatry.

Warrior’s Day is celebrated at the National Monument on July 31 with the laying of the wreath and a moment of silence in full military tradition by the King and senior military leaders.

“Saluting in front of the statue is against Islamic teachings,” said Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, former Perlis mufti.

Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria concurred with Asri, saying that the current practice is un-Islamic.

“Meditating in silence in front of a statue is not right,” he told The Malaysian Insider. “It is as if you are respecting the statue. Bowing in front of a statue looks as if you are worshiping the statue.”

While Harussani agreed that it is good to commemorate the slain soldiers, but the commemoration should not violate Islamic teachings.

When questioned on why the shift is only made now after years of celebration at the National Monument, Asri replied that the religious authorities had kept silent about this issue during Tun Abdullah Badawi’s administration. He added that they should have had the courage to speak up.

However, Harussani said that the religious authorities have always advised the Government against celebrating Warrior’s Day at the National Monument since independence.

Nonetheless, Harussani added that the advice was ignored for the most part, except during the reign of Johor Sultan Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1984-1989.

When the next Agong took over, celebrations of Warrior’s Day resumed at the National Monument.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi had said last week that Warrior’s Day this year would be celebrated at Putrajaya instead of the National Monument in line with the guidelines of the National Fatwa Council and Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim), which prohibited such celebrations in front of human statues.

He added that a Warriors Square about two to three acres large would be built in Putrajaya for future celebrations.

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