Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Protect our freedom of religion, prime minister

INSTEAD of beginning the New Year as a single, united Malaysian nation, churches have been attacked in a series of orchestrated acts of violence. Such acts render the 1Malaysia concept pure rhetoric. The police and the prime minister have promised swift action against the perpetrators. However, the government has made too many empty promises in the past for me to take their promises seriously.

When our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak came into power, he promised a vibrant and free media. Instead, the media was strapped in a tighter straitjacket than before, through such incidents as the arrest of press freedom advocate Wong Chin Huat, and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s attempted censorship of news portal Malaysiakini‘s videos on the cow-head protest.

Although freedom of religion is a basic human right of all Malaysians, as enshrined in the the Federal Constitution, that right has been violated time and time again. Bibles have been seized by customs arbitrarily; temples have been demolished without reason; bloody protests parading a cow’s head, a sacred animal to Hindus, were organised when a Hindu temple was relocated.

So, pray tell, how can I take any comfort in the government’s paper-thin reassurances to protect my rights, or even my very life as a Christian Malaysian citizen?

We have put up with continuous attacks that have eroded our freedom of religion long enough. The latest acts of terrorism against the Christian houses of God, designed to engineer fear and cow Malaysians into submission, cannot be tolerated. Calling racial and religious issues as “sensitive” is nothing but a despicable ploy to intensify fear and mass hysteria, so that giving up one’s right to freedom of religion seems like a better alternative to a nebulous threat of chaos and anarchy.

If Najib sincerely desires to craft a 1Malaysia that will last for generations, I challenge him to uphold the Federal Constitution and protect Christians’ and all Malaysians’ right to freely practise their own religion without fear.

I challenge him to promote open religious dialogue and discourse, instead of allowing incendiary demonstrations that favour the majority, so that religion can be discussed in a peaceful and civil manner.

I challenge him to practise transparency by exposing the political villains behind the orchestrated church bombings, and to bring them to justice.

Dare the prime minister take up these challenges to substantiate his promises with action?

Boo Su-Lyn
11 Jan 2010

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9 Responses to “Protect our freedom of religion, prime minister”

  1. Nicholas Aw says:

    I doubt that action will be taken. Remember the intrusion of First Communion at a church in Ipoh where a group of people created a ruckus? Then there was the desecration of the host by two journalists which nothing has come out of.

    To put it in a nutshell: The PM is only interested in pushing for his political agenda. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to our PM but his words supersede his actions.

  2. Aiman Abdullah G. says:

    There is but One God, and He is God, by any name in any language. Amen.

  3. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    What part of the constitution do you wish the prime minister of this country to uphold which you accuse him of not now upholding? Could you specify the particular area of the constitution and how it is not being upheld by government (or the PM more specifically) and I will happily answer it for you.

    Your letter is rhetoric and nothing more. Let me be part of your inquiring mind. I love matters of the law and the constitution as your editors will tell you. I love it to the point it hurts some.

    Gopal Raj Kumar

  4. Alison says:

    We can talk till he cows come home, unfortunately this country will not change, not in the next 50 years! Basic human rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution? What Federal Constitution? They will tweak it at their whims and fancies! Whatever soothes them. There is only one Almighty Allah! And may His grace and wisdom be showered upon the leaders of this country to do the rightful thing. Justice for all Malaysians.

  5. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    Dear Boo Su Lyn, I await with bated breath the relevant articles of the constitution you believe the PM has failed to uphold in your favour. Or is it Nut Graph policy to make tall claims then run?

    Gopal Raj Kumar

    Editor’s note: Boo Su Lyn wrote a letter to the editor – this is a space where any news outfit allows the public to express their opinions. And these opinions can differ greatly – that’s the purpose of a public forum. If you would like to counter Boo Su Lyn’s argument in your own letter to the editor, you are most welcome to submit one to us. Letters are edited according to our editorial policies. Keep the length below 1,000 words.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  6. Gopaal Raj Kumar says:

    What is your editorial policy? Where can it be found. Certainly not what you refer to each time when you choose to censor. Why have the other comments on the Malaysian Bar’s views not been passed for publication? Are they not of public interest or have you another agenda? I am happy to post and to bring sponsors to your dying effort. But clearly for that to happen you ought to grow up a bit more and cease this practice of taking your marbles home to mummy each time a point of view conflicts with your own.

    Editor’s note: Our policies can be found right on the landing page for everyone to view. For your specific reference:

    We are experiencing a happy situation now – the number of our readers (and hence comments) has gone up dramatically. What this means is that the turnaround time for approving comments is slower – no conspiracies. But we will work out internally how we can find solutions to this very fortunate problem.

    Thanks so much for your offer to help us find sponsors. We appreciate your support.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  7. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    I am happy to contribute but not based on your fiction that the number of readers is the reason for the turnaround time. Your earlier emails on this issue betray the half truth on this subject.

    I am happy to contribute. But you ought to be less disingenuous when addressing your peers. Especially Shanon Shah. It’s very un-Gujarati like.

    If I repeated your real statistics online on your web page or mine it would bring your credibility down. That’s not something for Albert Einstein to work out how to do. You have been hacked before and that’s not news either and your stats are no private matter.

    Come on, we need robust debate. Let’s not show fear or favour. Your publication has tremendous potential only if the fear of the truth is jettisoned in your minds.

    I get a buzz from writing and being contrarian to your views or a thorn in your side (also because I believe in what I write and can substantiate what I say).

    I enjoy the fact that there is a group of youthful […] minds engaged in an intellectual pursuit that is a catalyst to change and positive change where it could matter.

    Don’t worship the Bar. They are a proverbial millstone around the necks of most progressive minds.

    Many of them are tied to a past that went by a long time ago and yearn for things that may not exist.

    I commend you and your readers to the latest Teoh Beng Hock inquiry (streaming on the AG’s website) and the exchanges of a […] lawyer.

    This is perhaps where the core of Malaysia’s social and legal problems lie.

    Gopal Raj Kumar

    Editor’s note: But how can we trust your statements when you can’t even get my racial background right? Gujarati? But yes, please repeat our real statistics if you have the figures. We’d be interested to know ourselves!

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  8. jeremiah says:

    There is a proverb in the Bible which says not to answer a fool lest you become one in doing so.

    Every human being has a conscience and an inner moral law that tells him where he has crossed the line of right and wrong.

    There is no need to debate whether the PM has crossed the line by allowing the suppression of freedom of religion in this country. Yes, we can worship in our churches and temples, but look at how much restrictions we face in building new ones and importing Bahasa Malaysia bibles.

    We all know there is a contradiction in the constitution that allows freedom of religious worship for every citizen except for Malays who must be defined as Muslims. Thus, a Malay Malaysian has no freedom to choose his/her religion. The consequence of renouncing Islam is apotasy.

    The main issue that has gripped the nation in January 2010 is the attack on 10 churches, something that is unprecedented in Malaysian history.

    Why did it happen? An act of terrorism or political protest over religious sensitivities? And most importantly, where will this violence end if the criminals are not caught and prosecuted ?

    We all know how it all started and every mature citizen knows full well who has crossed the line of morality. No need for intellectual debates because a burnt church is still a burnt church as much as we can call a spade a spade.

    So the question and challenge is put to the PM: What now, and how will this be resolved? Or will it be swept under the carpet and allowed to fester?

  9. Boo Su-Lyn says:

    To Gopal Raj Kumar: The article of the Federal Constitution that our PM Najib has not upheld is Article 11, which states that “every person has the right to profess and practice his own religion”. Clearly, legally prohibiting me from professing my God in the name that I wish is a gross violation of my constitutionally-guaranteed right. Allowing the terrorism of churches to go unpunished causes fear that indirectly suppresses my right of practicing my own religion. My right as guaranteed by Article 11 should be protected by the PM, instead of allowing that right to be arbitrarily threatened by violence, which is conveniently labeled as merely “vandalism”.

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