Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malaysia’s PM establishes diplomatic relations with Vatican, despite religious turmoil


By John L. Esposito and John O. Voll

Pope Benedict XVI receives a gift by Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) during a meeting at the Pope's summer residence in Castelgandolfo July 18, 2011. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano/Handout (HO - Reuters)
Prime Minister Najib Razak met with Pope Benedict XVI on 18 July, and it was announced that the Vatican and Malaysia agreed to establish diplomatic relations.

Malaysia, where Muslims make up 60 percent of the population, has long been cited as an example and model of a progressive multiracial and multiracial Muslim country. However, its peaceful coexistence has been strained by interreligious tensions and conflicts between the Malay majority and the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities who are mostly Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. Decisions taken by the prime minister's Department Religious Affairs have exacerbated the situation. A leading example is the ruling that Christians stop using "Allah, the Malay term for God, despite the fact that this has been an accepted practice in Malaysia as it is in Indonesia and the Middle East. Malaysia's Home Ministry prohibited Catholics from using the word in their Malay-language publications since 2007. Customs officials seized 15,000 Bibles from Indonesia because they used the word "Allah" as a translation for God.

However, Malaysia's High Court overturned a government ban, ruling that the word Allah is not exclusive to Muslims and that others, including Catholics, who had been prohibited by the Home Ministry from using the word in the Malay-language edition of the Catholic monthly the Herald, can now use the term. Incensed by the decision, militants attacked several churches and pledged to prevent Christians from using the word "Allah." In the aftermath of the attacks, the Malaysian High Court in response to a government appeals granted a stay order on Jan. 7; the government appealed to the higher Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling.
News reports of the eeting between the Prime Minister and the pope have emphasized the importance of the visit in terms of domestic Malaysian politics.

The New York Times noted that analysts say the visit “is intended to signal a wish to mend ties with the country’s Christians” and BBC reported that it is “intended to reassure Christians in his country, who have long complained of discrimination.” Most reports also note some of the current tensions, giving as an example the attempt to prohibit Christians from using the word “Allah” when referring to God in the Malay language.

This example highlights one of the ironies of Prime Minister Najib’s meeting with the pope, because the ban on the use of the word “Allah” by Malaysian Christians is in fact an action initiated by the Najib government. As noted above, when the Kuala Lumpur High Court overturned the government ban, the Najib government appealed the decision. Currently the government is involved in a case dealing with the Home Ministry’s confiscation of Christian CDs using the word “Allah.” This government policy has been opposed by major opposition leaders including those leading Muslim organizations who are viewed as more explicitly Islamic in their policy orientation. Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister and a leader of the Malaysian opposition, for example, put it simply: “Muslims have no monopoly over ‘Allah’.” (Wall Street Journal, 15 January 2010).

If Prime Minister Najib wants to assure Malaysian Christians of his desire for a united Malaysia, the solution would seem simple. Rather than going all the way to Rome to talk with the pope, his government could bring to an end its support for policies like banning the use of the word “Allah.” The recent rough suppression of opposition demonstrations, which included Christian demonstrators, does not help to create a sense of security for Malaysian religious minorities.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Kota Kinabalu City Hall(DBKK) once again made a mockery of themselves today at 2,30pm,when a battalion of it's Enforcement Personals swamped the premises of PARTI MAJU SABAH (SAPP) Headquarters at Luyang,reasons- it's signage board bearing the wordings,BERSIH,BERANI,BENAR. Head of the Licensing Unit of DBKK,Sairullizam Bin Sukor,was in his element displaying arrogance,normally displayed by a person with instructions from "Higher Up's".

 If the present UMNO/BN Government were "Bersih" in their administration,"Berani" in fighting for the people and "Benar" in their promises and not only during election time,then UMNO/BN should not be fearing those sacred words.

Fear has reaped into the nervous system of UMNO/BN-hence anything with words such as Bersih is now taboo to them.Perhaps DBKK should mirror themselves if they are Bersih at all.In the fiasco that lasted for almost 2 hours,the Fire Department were also called in to assist to demolish the signage board placed on the 2nd floor of the Party's office.Onlookers were seen running,in an apparent move to see if their shop lots were on fire,with the presence of the Fire Engine.In the end it was a hoax,only to know that DBKK had wasted taxpayers money by summoning the Fire Department to assist them in an illegal mission.

DBKK had apparently issued a notice to SAPP at 2.30pm(11th.July.2011),demanding them to remove the signage board with immediate effect(DBKK No/BPL:1100-23/0/1 Kit.30(23) for violating-UUK 3(1) & 13(1)(2)(3) Undang-Undang Kecil (IKLAN) 1983,which was sign by the Director General,Datuk Yeo Boon Hai and copied to the Mayor,Datuk Abidin Madingkir,City Police Chief ACP Sofi and DBKK's Enforcement Director.

Meanwhile SAPP's lawyers had faxed a letter to the Director General of DBKK threatening to take legal action against them if they continue to harass SAPP of their Constitutional rights.The letter also mentioned violation of the principles of natural justice.

Shortly later at about 3.15pm,City Police Chief ACP Mohd Sofi arrived with his personals. SAPP President,Datuk Yong Teck Lee was seen discussing with the Police Chief and Sairullizam Sukor,on the existing laws available and whither DBKK had the legal right to continue their illegal demolition exercise. Where is the natural justice that's found in our Constitution,isn't the law clear enough that we must be given 14 days notice?The City Police Chief who acted more as a mediator,looked rather mind boggled that DBKK was unaware of the existing  laws.Doesn't DBKK have a Legal Department with "Qualified Lawyers",or are they also ignorant of the law themselves?

Kota Kinabalu residents must now take serious view of the incompetency of DBKK,we may have been hoodwinked or perhaps even "conned"by them in the past,because of our ignorance.The Business Community should also now re-examine their payments made for licenses,fees and compounds in the past,and not be intimidated by them again.

Back to the BERSIH,BERANI,BENAR, signage board fiasco.After a 15 minute discussion on the existing laws,DBKK's Licensing Head,Sairullizam finally gave in and agreed to the 14 days notice,much to his displeasure,he must have thought that he was talking to morons and nincompoops who were ignorant of the law.At this point,Yong Teck Lee requested him for an official letter stating the 14 days notice,much to the shock of many including the Police Chief,Sairullizam responded by saying,"my word is the notice".Where did this "clown" come from,is this the kind of Officers that DBKK employs?In GOD we trust,anyone else sorry lah.

Finally,I guess this Sairullizam came to his senses,with his conscience probably telling him,"punya bodoh aku"and he agreed to have a letter issued in writing on the 14 days notice and the crowd begun dispersing.Shockingly at 4.35pm DBKK all of a sudden became "efficient",a letter ( DBKK No/BPL:1100-23/0/1 Kit.30(24).by fax was received by SAPP and it's contents giving SAPP the 14 days notice in accordance with the law.If UMNO/BN was BERSIH,BERANI and BENAR,today's fiasco could have been avoided.

I ask Yong Teck Lee later while having coffee,in not to many words,how would you sum up today's fiasco,his respond was,"Abuse of power for political motives". 

Rich and Foamy Support For BERSIH 2.0

It was a proud day for all Malaysians, as they gathered all over the globe with sheer determination and send UMNO/BN a firm message.."Your arrogance and intimidation worries us no  more”. Courageously toiling ahead with their heads high, it would be outrageous to believe that the power of the people displayed on the 9th.July has not frighten the wits out of Najib Tun Razak and his bunch of scoundrels. If at all Najib and UMNO think that their "3 million" members can intimidate Malaysians with their threats, they had better think again.

With Najib boasting that UMNO is not at all concerned with Bersih and is not afraid to call for elections, I dare Najib to dissolve Parliament, if he has the balls to do so and call for elections. The people are ready - and make no mistake - the 13th General Elections will be UMNO/BN's last as the ruling government.

While the weak who preferred to stay at home, and the many who "advocate change" in Facebook, were very conveniently missing, tens of thousands of Malaysians bravely took the government to task with their strong presence demanding for free and clean elections. Many were also arrested and one had to die all in the name of justice. The world witnessed the most brutal attacks on Malaysians by the Police in what was only meant to be a peaceful rally by the people for reforms in the electoral roll. Even Anwar Ibrahim was not spared of the brutality displayed by the Police. What was UMNO/BN so afraid off?

The end result of the 9th July brutality will go down in history as the day UMNO/BN 'butchered" its people just to stay in power. World leaders are beginning to view the Malaysian Government as a "desperate government" ,prepared to go to any or all lengths - they couldn't care 2 hoods what the world leaders think or say. After all, it’s the very same government that has told Malaysians, “if you're not happy, you can get out of Malaysia".

Bersih 2.0 has fulfilled its objectives to the great admiration of Malaysians. Of course, casualties in any war is unavoidable, and Bersih's noble cause is no different. Thousands of supporters and activist were arrested, brutally injured and as sure as the sun rises from the east, these activists will continue their fight against the UMNO/BN government until it is shown the exit or better yet thrown out.

In Sabah, Sabahans, although small in numbers, came out with great determination knowing very well the circumstances that awaited them. Most Sabahans generally are passive, as their way of life is all about "cari makan" with no desire to disturb the hornest’s nest. The biggest disappointment was the convenient absence of Pakatan Rakyat (PKR,DAP and PAS) in organizing a rally, even though if it had to disguise itself under the name of Bersih. Where were its leaders or are there any? Pakatan Rakyat Sabah has boasted about REFORMS,UBAH and CHANGE, but where were they when it mattered most? Surely their calendars could have been readjusted to ensure that they stand for the people, and not only appear during elections. Unlike their counterparts in Kuala Lumpur, PR Sabah was a total shame.

The only consolation in addressing the Bersih issues was a gathering of brave Sabahans who gathered under the scorching heat at 1pm at the Bornion Centre, Luyang, Kota Kinabalu. Many bravely attired themselves in YELLOW, even with the strong presence of the Police. I was privileged to have been with them, standing steadfast, firm and not bothered with the Police presence who incidentally, were fully armed. But my utmost congratulations to the Police, who were not only professional but conducted themselves with high esteem.

Having said that, will Sabahans rise to the occasion and redeem their lost pride, or are they not bothered at all? If the participation of Malaysians in Bersih 2.0 in Malaysia and around the globe is of any indication, the political tsunami in 2008 will be transformed into a massive volcanic eruption - the mother of all earthquakes that will see Malaysians voting out UMNO/BN.

God Willing, may the 13th General Election be the decisive moment.