THE Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) notes with deep concern that the cow-head incident in Shah Alam is not an isolated case. Another recent example of this kind of insensitivity was when the holy eucharist was desecrated when certain persons went to a church, took the consecrated bread, and spewed it out.
Such irreverent and sacrilegious conduct should not be condoned and allowed to be repeated with impunity. In seating the organisers of the recent demonstration in Shah Alam to his right and left during his press conference, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein seemed to have bestowed honour to the perpetrators of a gravely offensive and dangerous event. This was an incident where seditious speeches accompanied by the stepping on the severed head of the cow were made. What signal would this send to the people?
Not surprisingly, the same disrespectful and unruly behaviour by certain quarters rendered the 5 Sept 2009 town hall meeting between Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Section 23 residents unmanageable and unproductive.
MCCBCHST is concerned that the police acted strongly against would-be candlelight vigilers in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka on 5 Sept; yet in the Shah Alam incident, they stood by while the demonstrators desecrated the cow head and made seditious speeches.
Also, Malaysiakini has now been warned by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission not to make the video showing the terrible acts in the Shah Alam incident available for viewing. Thinking Malaysians will rightly raise the question: which comes first — the act, or the video exposing the act?
Stopping the video will not unmake the act. Surely we should have firstly prevented the act, without which the video would not have existed.
For the good of all Malaysians, and for peace and order in Malaysia, consistent, fair, just and rational measures should be applied. There must be one rule for all Malaysians, regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, gender or political connection.
All who incite ill feelings among religious communities, denigrate any religion, desecrate the religious symbols of any religion, or threaten to commit violence against others must be promptly deterred and held accountable. They must face charges and be given a fair trial in a court of law.
Sacrilegious acts committed by adherents of any one religion upon another religion must never be condoned. We hold to the principle that all human beings and communities have a sacred right of freedom of choice as far as their religious beliefs and practices are concerned.
We stand with Malaysians of all religious and political persuasions who were outraged by the flagrant disregard for the sensitivities of others shown by the Shah Alam demonstrators.
We welcome the partnership of all Malaysians of goodwill. Together we can weather the mischief and bigotry of those who seek to drive a wedge between us, and divide rather than unite the people of this land.
We live in a pluralistic society, and accordingly we must respect our neighbours and endeavour to learn about their beliefs, customs and sentiments. It is upon such understanding of others that our nation can be firmly rooted and grow strong and united. The way to manage our differences is not by creating enclaves whereby Malaysians will be segregated and separated from one another, but through understanding and respect.
The site chosen in Section 23 of Shah Alam for the relocation of the Hindu temple complies with local government conditions. It is over 300m away from any housing area, six times more than the 50m requirement. If the authorities accepted the objection to it by certain quarters, the social dynamics of Malaysian life would be affected, and the repercussions on national integration would be very serious indeed.
We must not subscribe to the view of thinking about Malaysians as majorities and minorities, and majorities versus minorities. MCCBCHST therefore calls upon all Malaysians to be in earnest prayer for the peaceful and just resolution of the issue. Those in authority at the community, religious and governmental levels must be firm to unequivocally reject unreasonable, unfair and anti-social behaviour and demands.
Rev. Dr Thomas Philips
7 Sept 2009