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High time to bin the race card

Posted: 11 Aug 2013 04:18 PM PDT

If the government is sincere in wanting to pursue its national reconciliation agenda, it should strive to promote a true Malaysian identity.

Respect must be earned and not imposed especially on a weaker party. It must be on civil and socially accepted mutual grounds with ample negotiating boundaries.

FMT Editorial

In the past month, we have witnessed two hyper charged incidents that have touched every Malaysian one way or another. Both revolved around the issues of religion and race. The first incident that sparked an outrage among non-Muslim parents was when their children were made to have meals in shower rooms during breaks in school. Apparently the headmaster had instructed them to do so in respect to the fasting students. This was not a move expected from a school headmaster in the manner young minds are treated. It not only instills the thought of "separation on racial lines" but demeans and castigates those not fasting.

The second incident also occurred in a school. This time the principal in anger had asked the non-Malay students to either go back to India or China, igniting another round of anger, disgust and apprehension among parents and society. The principal was clearly unjustified in making such remark in public. As an entrusted individual, she should have been more sensitive and thoughtful before hurling such verbal abuse in the open. No amount of apology can repair the damage done, especially to her.

Respect must be earned and not imposed especially on a weaker party. It must be on civil and socially accepted mutual grounds with ample negotiating boundaries. It is unfortunate that after more than 50 years of independence, we as a society are growing apart rather than converging into a more homogeneous entity. We boast to the world of having highly diversified cultures, traditions and foods but sadly we have lost our sense of being truly tolerant to one another.

In the 70s to late 90s, the spirit of friendship and neighbourliness was based on sharing and respecting each other regardless of social, economic and religious leanings. It was the way of life. We played, studied, camped and visited each other with no worries and qualms of hurting with our actions. Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali were celebrations for all. Truly Malaysian in every sense.

What has happened to us?

Islam is a beautiful religion and so is Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Baha'ism and many other religions of the world. All encourage their followers to do good, be courteous, humble, honest, respectful, and above all not to hurt another even unintentionally. Unfortunately we have deviated far from these virtues. Every event is being skewed along the lines of race or religion.



Lying to God for political survival

Posted: 11 Aug 2013 03:46 PM PDT

Why do Umno leaders consistently bring up the issue of threats to Islam close to Umno party elections?


There is greed in every one of us. Arrogance too surfaces every now and then as we go about the business of life. At times we speak half-truths at times we tell lies.

We try to live life as true to our convictions as we can but few can do so without the occasional lapse in ethics and morality. Whatever the truth, each and every one of us has erred – some more than others.

It would also be true to say that the majority of us are mindful of our collective responsibility to others and we try to live our life accordingly. Rare are those amongst us that will breach that responsibility on pain of censure from our peers – which for some, is a fate worse than death.

But the curse of leadership failure amongst our politicians now brings our nation perilously close to a place we do not wish to go – that of racial and religious strife.

The truth is that our political leaders, by the time they leave office and after their leadership has been weighed in the balance, have been found wanting! Embezzlement of public funds is endemic. The curse of corruption is systematic in a government that has lost its way.

Economic mismanagement is a common curse of selfish leadership and bad governance is now a fact of life. All this now burdens not only our people but also our country and our future.

The stench that reeks within the corridors of power is overpowering. The inability for these leaders to understand their own failings compounds the stench.

In their pursuit of personal wealth and political power, Umno leaders have exhausted almost all avenues available to them. They have served the rakyat, our nation and our king but not too well.

They have created vast economic opportunities, built massive infrastructures that our nation need and embarked on a multitude of economic initiatives that should serve the needs of our nation well into the next century, but corruption and inept management of our nation's resources and wealth have resulted in the proliferation of this odious practice of rent seeking and national debts of astronomical proportions that will burden our nation to the tune of RM 1 trillion by 2020.

The education of our youth has been a priority – not in making ready our youth for multi-racial future but in serving the needs of a government that wants to divide and rule this multi racial nation of ours through race and religion.

What else ails our nation today?

After the 13th general election, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government rules without a popular mandate from the people.

Our Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin feels it is his duty to warn the non-Muslims to not insult Islam – this in a country where even Muslims fear to make any comment for or against Islam on pain of being labeled a heretic or be 'fatwaed" against.

A video made three years ago by a Muslim preparing kuih raya for her dogs becomes a video that insults Islam.

Headmasters and headmistresses are also now co-opted into the frontline of these racial and religious skirmishes.

The police are powerless to prevent the killing of our people on our streets and of suspects in their custody by their own men.

And 'kongsi' is no longer a noun but a verb – and a very critical verb if our Tun Mahathir is to be believed. A verb that he tells us the Chinese have failed to do to his satisfaction.

In the world that we live in today people sometimes lie to avoid shame, safeguard honor and status. At times to exploit opportunities for personal and financial gains.

The Chinese hawker that short-weight you at the markets and the mamak that serves you three quarters of an egg when charging you for one for your rojak are merely being human – taking what he can for himself.

Even subjectively claiming that Islam is a 'religion of peace' is permitted if it protects and furthers the interests of Islam as long as one remains faithful to Islam in one's heart.

But what is behind Umno leaders preoccupation of playing the role of being the protectors of Islam when no threat to Islam and Muslims exists in Malaysia?

Why do Umno leaders consistently bring up the issue of threats to Islam close to Umno party elections?

Is it to confuse, confound and to divide the enemies of Islam, or is it to rev up their credentials as defenders of the faith in the eyes of Umno members for their own political gains?



I am insulted

Posted: 11 Aug 2013 12:37 PM PDT

I feel insulted because the statement shows a deep insensitivity, as if a program about the life of the head of my Church is something on par with pornography or material of dubious ethical and moral value.

Patricia Anne Martinez, TMI

As an ordinary Malaysian Christian, specifically a Catholic, I want to place on record that I am deeply INSULTED.

I just watched the program "Pope from the end of the world" on the Astro History channel. It is a biography (and nothing else) of Pope Francis. Perhaps it was featured before, but it was the first time I watched it.


The disclaimer - if it can be called that, was shown FOUR TIMES throughout the program.

I feel insulted because the statement shows a deep insensitivity, as if a program about the life of the head of my Church is something on par with pornography or material of dubious ethical and moral value.

There is no such cautionary statement before the repeated showing of programs such as the Victoria's Secret Lingerie collection, or for that matter Miss Universe or Miss World (and there is a fatwa against beauty pageants in Malaysia!), to advise Muslims that 'views' other than their own are being aired, and 'discretion' is advised.

The statement advising Muslims about exposing them to views other than their own and that viewer discretion is advised, intimates therefore that aspects of the program COULD BE OFFENSIVE to Muslims' point of view.

Since when is Pope Francis, who on August 7 2013, offered Eid greetings to Muslims, offensive to Muslims?

I would like to point out that it was the first time a Pope himself was greeting Muslims for Eid or Hari Raya Aidul Fitr, because in the past, the greetings from the Vatican came from the Pontifical Institute for Interreligious Dialogue.

Pope Francis' statement included:  "I wish to emphasise the importance of dialogue and cooperation"; "I reiterate my hope that Christians and Muslims may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship in particular through education" and concluded with, "I send you prayerful good wishes that your lives may glorify the Almighty and give joy to those around you. Happy feast to all."

Just how threatening or offensive to Muslims' views could a  BIOGRAPHY of such a Pope's short tenure be?

Apart from what I have quoted above, early into his papacy before Easter this year, Pope Francis performed the ritual of washing the feet of human beings – a replication of what Jesus Christ did, and which is a symbolic ritual of profound humility by the clerics in the Catholic Church. This Pope chose to go and wash and kiss the feet of men and women in a Juvenile Detention Centre, INCLUDING WASHING AND KISSING THE FEET OF AT LEAST ONE MUSLIM.

Frankly, there is much an ordinary person – Muslim or otherwise -  could learn from such a human being, just as I am willing to learn from the Dalai Lama, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and others.

Pope Francis espouses and LIVES humility. The program showed many examples of it from the early hours of his papacy when he appeared without the expensive accoutrements of his office.  The program showed Pope Francis BEFORE the traditional blessing of the ecstatic crowd below his balcony, bowing before them and ASKING FIRST FOR THEIR BLESSING INSTEAD. This was one of his first actions as the new head of millions of Catholics around the world.




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