To the protesters of Article 11 & the cowardly politicians…
July 29, 2006 in Local Politics, Social Activism & Religious Matter
To quote my pet sister, Naoko:
“The Islamic law was given a preferred and not a Supreme status in this land. Get it through your thick skull, damn it!”
I couldn’t have elucidate it better…though I added the last two words for added “oomph” and frustration.😀
So much have been said of this issue regarding religion, the Inter-Faith Commission and the Article 11, both in the media and the blogosphere, that I wondered if I should add my two cents worth on this issue. I mean, so many people have expressed their distress on this matter and made known their points clearer and better than I could ever hope to do.
Whatismore, I have many Muslim friends and acquaintances, and while I respect them and treat them how I’d like to be treated, I did – for a moment – fear of backlash from them if I ever aired my voice on this most delicate of subjects.
But I thought, “Ah, what the hell, just do it!”
Besides, one more voice on the subject won’t gonna change things anyways but I’ll be comforted in knowing that I had bitched and made noise about it. Also, I know for a fact that the actions of some of you who purportedly defend Islam are actually the worst offenders of the sanctity of that religion…most of my Malay friends are better practitioners and believers of their religion than any of you who protested, ranted and throwing tantrums like schoolchildren outside the Article 11 forum in Johor.
It’s a delicate issue, this, I dont even know where to begin, but I guess I will start from this most worrying news of all >>> Our dear PM’s call for a gag order on Article 11 and its discussions on religion, specifically on Islam.
“…deemed to cause tension in our multi-religious society.”
I don’t know about you, but from my point of view, the only ones who are all tensed up are none other than the Muslims themselves…to be more specific, the so-called defenders of Islam such as PAS and a host of other UMNO politicians, a buncha liars…oops, i meant lawyers, ulamas and some Islamic NGOs. For these people to be so tensed about other people talking about their religion, it seems to imply that there’s something wrong with it, that there’s something they are so insecure about that they’re going to put a stop to all these “nonsense” and “disturbing” discussions about religion.
That itself is enough reason and enough justification for a long, honest and open discussion, doesn’t it?
If you’re so confident about your own religion, why are you all so upset about people talking about it and want them to stop? Shouldn’t you, in fact, welcome these talks and promote religious understanding and tolerance…which was what exactly the Inter-Faith Commission was suppose to do in the first place before Article 11 came into the picture. Because that didn’t materialise after all the lengthy talks and discussions, Article 11 has brought it upon themselves to do it.
And so, after just a couple of talks, the umbrella group of 13 NGOs in Malaysia are forced to cease their forums to promote racial and religious understanding and about what the Constitution of Malaysia actually says about the role of Islam in this country.
And what does the Constitution of Malaysia really say about the country’s religion? What has been promised us in this supreme law of the country? First of all, in article 3 of the Constitution of Malaysia, it has been stated:
“Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”
I take that to mean that Islam is the official religion because of the overwhelming number of Malays in the country that practised the religion. I can safely say that if Christianity or Buddhism was the religion of the majority, either one would’ve been the “religion of the Federation”. It just so happened that this country has more people practicing Islam. But do note that it only says “religion of the federation”, NOT the “supreme religion of the Federation” and by virtue of allowing other religions be practised in peace and harmony, it enforces the fact that Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state, otherwise, we would have all been either forced to convert or practise our religions in secret and go underground. Therefore… MALAYSIA IS A SECULAR STATE WITH ISLAM AS ITS OFFICIAL RELIGION!!
It’s simple enough to understand so it really beggars belief that so, so many stubborn and ignorant parties are still proclaiming and declaring that Malaysia is an Islamic state and therefore, the status of Islam in the country should not be questioned at all. Just because the religion is the official religion of the country, it certainly does not render it immune from inspections, closer scrutinies, debates and discussions. The religion is NOT superior than other religions, and no one has the right to claim one religion being of much more higher status and higher superiority than others. ALL religions are equal and fair, whether you like it or not…so live with it, damn it and shut the heck up!
Now, coming back to the Consitution of Malaysia, this is what the all-important Clause (1) of article 11 is stated:
“Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.”
It’s so darn clear and so darn simple to understand. We are free to profess, practise and spread our religion of choice, and yet, we are restricted by Clause (4) which then states:
“State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.”
What incredible biasness! Others may profess, practise and spread their religion as long as they influence those practising Islam, but Islam is free to spread and propagate their religion to others. This itself, in my opinion is already declaring that Islam is better than others, so it should be protected and championed at all costs. It totally reeks of religious superiority.
“Article 11 in the country’s constitution is supposed to safeguard the rights of the non-Muslims in the country and to allow the freedom of religion no matter what you were born into. It is also supposed to guarantee what I consider the most important issues with regards to our children’s future:
Parents (both mother and father) are equal guardians and have equal say in all respects of the upbringing of children. Children shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion and in all cases, the interests of children shall be paramount.“
The above was “borrowed” from Naoko who took it from Edrei who read about it on Lainie’s blog. I couldn’t have agreed more, which makes this hoo-ha and clampdown on Article 11’s forums and the gag order all the more distressing. In a country where those professing the religion of Islam, especially those in the government service, are “lording” over the minorities in cases where the person’s religion is questioned. The National Registration Department is the main culprit, we’ve always read of horror cases where one’s religion has been mistakenly classified as “Islam” because the officers saw it fit to do so out of carelessness.
And the Lina Joy case…oh yeah…what an incredible farce it is… The poor woman has reiterated the fact that she has left Islam over and over again and all that she wants now is for NRD to remove the word “Islam” from the front of her identity card! And yet, the NRD has made life hell for her by saying it is not their place to make such a ruling without the prior consent of the appropriate authorities, which in this case probably refers to the Syariah Court and the people from the Islamic Affairs Department. Where’s the freedom of religion as guaranteed in Article 11? No one propagate the religion to her, she embraced it on her own accord. Everyone could have a much easier life if only the NRD had just erase the darn word of the front of her ID card. It only goes to show how ruthless they can be when they’re facing the prospect of losing one of their own.
When has it become their choice? What happened to the individual rights of Lina Joy to choose to renounce and drop Islam? Why are some people denied choice? It’s so blatantly unfair and it definitely blatantly infringes the rights of that person. Even children were not given that choice! The moment a child is born, he/she belongs automatically to the religion of the parent who has embraced Islam. Where is the fairness to the other parent? What happened to choice? Does the word “choice” even exist in the vocabulary of Islam?
There’s still so much more I want to say, but I think I’ve made my point. The Prime Minister may order the discussions stopped, but it will not stop us from continuing our discussion, criticism and debates about this matter. We are matured citizens, and I would really appreciate it if the Government just stop mollycoddling us and treat us as if our mentality are made of fragile stuff like lalang that we can be easily swayed without much thinking. In fact, it would be the Government’s entire fault if the public turned out to be easily swayed because the Government’s education policy has only been producing puppet followers instead of independent thinkers!
However, we are not going to let some gag order or media blackout on the Article 11 group to stop us from promoting religious understanding, religious freedom and religious tolerance as the way it should be instead of being dictated by one set of religion that is NOT suppose to be high and mighty than the rest of the religions. And that’s why we will still keep on talking about it and educating our kids and the public about it in our own way.
You can’t stop us.
And I’d like to see you try. Remember, we Malaysians may be peacelovers in general, but when push comes to shove, who is to say we would not demonstrate a la Philippines’ “People Power”? Until that happens, we’ll keep writing, keep talking and keep airing our views.
Our country is a multi-ethnic country…there is no place and no room for Islamic supremacy and Islamic fundamentalists and conservatives in this country. We will see to it that it doesn’t, how could we not? Seeing what has happened in the Middle East is enough to get most of us worried about parties like PAS taking control. We love Malaysia too much to see it destroyed by religion of any kind.
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