Saturday, March 12, 2011

Four things Christians can do in the face of represssion

Four things Christians can do in the face of repression

By Thomas Lee [Uppercaise]

The latest seizure of 30,000 Malay Bibles from the Kuching Port in Sarawak [and] several such incidents in the past few years are nothing less than an assault on the God-given right to worship, and to practice and propagate their faith in their own national language, without oppression.

There should no place for such evil bigotry and discrimination towards any religious belief in our country which is founded on the fundamental human right of freedom of worship.

What then should the Christians in Malaysia do in the face of such an oppressive political tyranny?

  1. Unite in unceasing prayer. A nationwide non-stop prayer vigil should be organized by the various churches. Individual Christians should set aside a day each week to fast and pray.
  2. Christians must be united to defend their rights and to curb and prevent any breach or dilution. Give steadfast support to church leaders in their negotiations with the authorities. CFM and its leadership should be resolute and unwavering in their stand.
  3. Christians must emerge from their spiritual slumber to be more vocal and visible as citizens. Mobilize themselves to campaign and vote for those [politicians] who are righteous, just, honest, fair, humble, competent, and incorruptible.
  4. Christians who are qualified and willing to serve the nation should offer themselves as candidates for election to Parliament and the various state assemblies.

Is UMNO acting in bad faith?

The renewed act of Bible confiscation is happening all over again. Christians in this country can only feel a sense of hopelessness, anger and disillusion and are wondering what is next on the UMNO agenda. After confiscating the Bibles, will they make it a law to say it is illegal for churches to have crosses or crucifixes. The Christmas party hosted by the Archbishop last year was a sign of things to come, when the church was "requested" not to display crosses, crucifixes nor the singing of hymns when the prime minister arrives. With the latest episode on the Bible confiscation, I can only surmise that UMNO is a no-brainer especially when the Sarawak state election is around the corner and where majority of people in the State are Christians. So by confiscating the Bibles, is UMNO acting in good faith? Allow me to apply two analogies here.

Everyone knows that there is a law prohibiting motor bike speeding on a busy street a'la mat rempit. Sensing that this is insufficient, the authorities decide to confiscate all the motor bikes in town, including those sold in shops, to ensure such an act does not take place. Thus two questions arise. Firstly, if the youths are caught breaking the law by engaging in motor bike racing, why not just book them? Secondly, by confiscating the bikes, would not the authorities be acting in bad faith when nothing has happened yet. The "reason" given was - for the sake of public safety.

Another interesting analogy is - it is an offence to drive without a proper licence. Every citizen understood this. But what the authorities will do is - they will impound your car before you even thought of driving the car around without a licence. So, the same principle applies. Since there is already a law, why not charge the culprit for committing such an unlawful act. Secondly by impounding the vehicle, does that not constitute an act of bad faith, when it is merely an assumption that the person would drive a car without a valid driving licence? The reason, public safety.

So coming back to the confiscation of the Bibles. By law, it is illegal for non-Muslim to propagate their faith to a Muslim. So anyone caught doing it, legal actions can be taken against him. But what UMNO has done is they decided to act in bad faith by confiscating the Bibles when no unlawful act has been committed yet. Reason? National Security. So is the rakyat safe when UMNO acts on whims and fancies without adhering to the law itself?

Finally, I believe strongly that no devout Muslim will ever want to read a Bible, unless UMNO is insulting the intelligence of my Malay Muslim friends and acting in bad faith believing that Muslims in this country are weak in their faith.

The tsunami strikes Japan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

RPK speaking at ANU [Australian National University]

Police questioned students because they wanted to return the Interlok book to the school?

Three Form Five students were yesterday taken to the Kuala Kubu Baru district police headquarters and traumatised by being questioned for 10 hours - all for wanting to return the novel 'Interlok' to their principal last Friday.

Initially, seven SMK Kuala Kubu Baru students, who wanted to return the book because they were not happy with its contents, were stopped by a discipline teacher who allegedly abused them verbally.

NONE“All seven of us were walking calmly towards the headmaster's room when our discipline teacher stopped us and started making comments which hurt our feelings,” said one of the students, who was with four others at the Human Rights Party headquarters today.

According to the student, the discipline teacher said the students were purposely creating problems because of their race.

The teacher reportedly said, “Kenapa orang India garang? India memang suka rosakkan nama sekolah. Keling memang dasar pariah sejak sejarah lagi” (Why are the Indians so fierce? Indians really like to tarnish the school's name. The keling have been pariahs since historical times).

The 17-year-old students were not able to return the novel as the teacher told them to disperse immediately.

Yesterday, while the students were in school, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) head Baktiar Md Rashid, who is a police officer, took three of the teens to the police station for questioning, without the consent of their parents.

NONEA parent, P Gomathi, 42 (left), said she was angry that her son had been taken to the station without her presence or permission.

“My son did not commit any crime. He just wanted to return a book that he didn't enjoy reading.

"Instead he was humiliated and taken to the balai like some kind of hardcore criminal, in a patrol car,” she said, adding that the school authorities did not inform her about this.

Gomathi was informed of her son's whereabouts at 10.30am by a classmate. When she reached the station, she said, she was told that her elder son A Sanjeevkumar, 19, had also been called in for questioning as the discipline teacher had made a police report against him.

“She (the discipline teacher) said in her police report that my elder son had brought 100 Indians from Kuala Lumpur, from the Gang 36, to threaten her and her family,” Gomathi added.

NONEShe sees this as a desperate move by the teacher because Sanjeevkumar was away in Kuala Lumpur the whole week when this issue started.

Sanjeevkumar said: “I was a student in this school two years ago, and I have never been involved in any problem. No problem with the teachers or other students.

“Therefore, it is not fair for the teacher to pin it on me on the ground that I was a former student who 'turned' into a gangster to influence my younger brother.”

Gomathi yesterday lodged police reports against Baktiar and the teacher.

“I am not happy with what has happened. It was a school drama that should have ended there. Baktiar was misusing his authority.

"He should have had his PTA hat on, as the matter concerned school children in the school compound... not putting on his 'DSP police hat' and arresting the children and taking them to the balaifor questioning. After all it's just (about) a book."

'A night in jail' threat

Asked what took place at the police station, the teary-eyed student said the police threatened that he and older brother Sanjeevkumar would be spending a night in jail.

“I asked for permission to call my parents but they (the police) wouldn't let me, saying I was in only there for questioning, and that they were not going to arrest me. The other two of my friends were also not able to call their parents.”

Asked what he wants from the authorities, he said: “I want to go back to school macam biasa (as usual). Jumpa semua kawan (see all my friends).

Sebab hari Jumaat, banyak cikgu lain yang dengar cerita ini, semuanya cakap sorry dekat kita. (Last Friday, most of the other teachers who heard of this issue, came and said sorry to us).

NONE“So, all I want is the discipline teacher to apologise to us. That's it.”

HRP president W Sambulingam (left), who was present at the press conference, said it was unfair to put the students through such an ordeal at a tender age.

“This is what I say, harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi. The police are supposed to educate and keep the people from harm. Instead, they lock up students. And for what? For trying to return the novel.

“As we have been saying since the beginning, 'Interlok' must be removed immediately. Look at it today, see for yourself what it has done to this particular school.

“Malaysia is a beautiful country, with beautiful people, so please do not make it ugly with hidden racial agendas. Don't ever victimise the nation.”

'Interlok', written by national laureate Abdullah Hussein, made headlines recently as critics have argued that it portrays the Indian and Chinese communities in a negative light.

There have been protests since the Education Ministry's decision to use it as a literature textbook in secondary schools. This is the first case of students being taken to a police station and questioned over the book.

Statements taken

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Hulu Selangor district police chief Norel-Azmi Yahya Affendi confirmed the incident.

"Since last night, we have been taking statements from all parties, including our police officer, Baktiar," Norel said.

Norel also noted that the three students were taken from school to the police station solely for questioning and they were not being charged.

"This is all just a big misunderstanding and a miscommunication between the teacher and students. My understanding is, the teacher was just explaining the meaning and history of that word (pariah). There was no name calling whatsoever," Norel added.

He gave assurance that the police are taking this case seriously, as the students' parents are not happy with the teacher and Baktiar, adding that the 10-hour questioning the minors underwent was standard procedure.

"The students were at the police station for about 10 hours because we spent about three hours on each student questioning and getting clarification from them on what had happen.

"Apart from the parents, the teacher also lodged a report against one of the students elder brother for threatening her," he said adding that if found guilty, Sanjeevkumar would be charged under Section 506 of the Penal Code, which includes a maximum jail sentence of seven years or pay a fine or both.

Norel said those involved in this matter had tackled this issue wrongly.

Any form of questioning regarding 'Interlok' should be done by school authorities, in the school compound and not elsewhere, he said.

Norel also hoped that no third parties who make this issue into a racial matter.

[Source: Mkini]

By the way, where is that newly elected hand-kissing MIC fella?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Will GE13 be held this year?

Now that the Merlimau and Kerdau by-elections are over, the confidence level in the BN, especially UMNO, must have gone up a few notches higher as a result of them winning these two seats including the one in the previous-held Tenang by-election. Basing on this "feel good" feeling, much has been reported in the various news portal and blogs that there is a good chance Najib may call for the 13GE within months to take advantage of the current situation. However, I beg to differ.

My hunch is that he will not. Basing on the current scenario, the GE in most likelihood, will be held next year as Najib still needs time to consolidate his position within UMNO and the various component parties of the BN. While many UMNO leaders are experiencing the good feeling right now as a result of recent wins, but it must be remembered that these, and the ones before, were all UMNO strongholds. Furthermore, being by-elections UMNO was able to focus all the resources on one spot. The good feeling should only be felt when they managed to win over a Pakatan held constituency. So right now, it is almost like the status quo. It is very much different if it is a GE as they may not have too much resources stretched over too many areas in too short time. Since March 2008, UMNO have created much ill-feelings among the non-Malays. Instead of improving relationships with the various races, they have aggravated the situation further with their high and mighty attitude. The Chinese, Christians and Indians will not forget the treatment they received and come GE13, it will be pay-back time again. Furthermore, the Teoh Beng Hock case, Anwar's sodomy case and PKFZ scandal will haunt the BN no end and I believe this is something Najib cannot afford to have them handing around his neck during a general election.. These three issues must be settled first. Therefore, my bet is that the 13GE will be held during the first term school holidays in 2012.

Looking at my crystal ball, I could see the following outcome of GE13: Please feel free to disagree as I stand corrected.
1. Pakatan will continue to administer Penang, and so will Kelantan.
2. Selangor will still be under Pakatan, although the margin of votes especially in predominantly Malay areas will be reduced. Constituencies won by non-Malay Pakatan candidates in 2008 will continue to hold, some with an increased majority.
3. Kedah will experience a 50/50 chance of being retained by Pakatan unless something is done now to step up activities just like Penang, those that will benefit the rakyat of the state. One slight agitation and it's bye bye. The people may not vote for the BN, but they prefer to abstain.
4. Perak will return to Pakatan.
5. Pakatan will not take over the Federal government but will continue to deny the BN the critical 2/3. Pakatan may even gain a few more seats at the courtesy of some allies in East Malaysia.
6. Negri Sembilan may fall to Pakatan.

Right now, I just can't wait to get my hands on the ballot paper so I can start voting these fellas out, once and for all..

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nostalgic Weekend - Anita Sarawak

One evening, after a dinner with some friends in Petaling Street. we stopped by at a nondescript record shop just to browse through some of the new 'arrivals'. One album that caught my eye was a picture of Anita Sarawak on its sleeve with tracks recorded in English. Anita Sarawak was then well known in the Malay musical industry but a recording in English, this I must hear. I pulled out the vinyl from the rack and have the shop owner to play a couple of tracks for me. The song that I heard that came out from the speakers was "Feelings", a cover version by Morris Albert. That was 1975.

Anita as we see her today.