Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Freedom of Religion in Malaysia - A Fallacy

It's our constitutional right to enjoy our freedom to practice our and worship as we like. But yet, there are people in our government and authorities who by their abuse of authority and narrow minded-ness , do their earnest best to prevent the proliferation of any other religion but Islam.

The following articles extracted from The Star are examples and of such injustice. One may read them and feel, well, they are going to sort out their problems. There are parties that seem to want to resolve this amicably. True. By saying resolve, they mean; stalling the project and insisting on their way forward for the perceived benefit of their religion and narrow beliefs.

In this case, I would ultimately like to see the project continue and the authorities see the value of it, as well as educating the objecting parties that we live in a multiracial and multireligious country and this is part of learning to live together.

What does a mosque and a Taoist statue, in "close proximity" symbolise? It symbolises the hormony between religions, races and the people. That at least 2 religions can co-exist without conflict. It symbolises to the Chinese and Buddhists that the government is also sincere in their attempts to break the segregating barriers between races and that the will of our Malay Ministers and Muslim countrymen will not be imposed upon us. In doing this, other people of other religious faiths will also take this as a beacon of hope.

But you see, the issue is not really the proximity of mosque and statue, it's the height of the statue. Apparently, in the attempt to build the Catholic Church in Shah Alam (which was later retracted by the Selangor State Government), the architechts were told that the highest part of the Church should be no taller than the tallest mosque in the area. Though no explanation is given, the perception is that certain people feel that Islam's superiority over other religions is denoted by the lower rooftops of the other religious buildings.

Malaysia, in its early days did not have such issues and the government didn't impose such things until the 80s or thereabouts. Taking this matter to another level, Churches are not allowed to be built even if the parish has money to do so. However, mosques are built everywhere on the basis that there should be 1 mosque per every 3-400 muslims. Better still, the public thru taxes pay for the building of these mosques, regardless if they are non-Muslim. How unfair is that? Further to that, based on the mosque quota above, the time has arrived where there are so many, that the "location is important" said by Tan Sri Hamid will no longer be possible for other religious sites. This is evident today where there are so many mosques around, many which are marble clad and gigantic, paid for by ALL Malaysian Citizens, while Christians and Buddhists have to resort to preaching and worshipping in little shophouses.

Many people whom I have spoken to say that we shouldn't rock the boat and should be thankful that this government even allows us to practice our faiths in a small way. We are thankful for the leeway we are given.

But I ask why?

Why should I pay for a mosque and not even get a temple or church in exchange? Isn't this a violoation of my religious rights, my constutional rights and my human rights?

It is the job of the government to ensure that quarters that object in such situations are put to rest and managed. Instead, they are supporting them.

Clearly if this is the case, then perhaps this is another reason why I should take my chances with the opposition.

Malaysia in its early days, was a place where

‘Leave Ma Tzu out of politics’

KOTA KINABALU:The Buddhist Foundation said the issue arising from the construction of the Ma Tzu Goddess of the Sea statue in Kudat should not be turned into a political issue.

Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat resigned as deputy chief minister. The foundation’s Sabah and Labuan chairman Tsen Nyuk Vun hoped the state government and the Kudat Ma Tzu Foundation would arrive at an amicable solution.

Work on the 27-metre statue was stopped following objections from several organisations that it was located too close to the district mosque.

The decision prompted Tanjung Kapor assemblyman Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat, who mooted its construction, to resign as deputy chief minister and tourism, culture and environment minister.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had on Monday revealed that the state government had offered an alternative site for the statue and agreed to compensate the costs incurred so far.

Tsen was among 50 religious leaders who met with Musa at his office on Monday.

During the meeting, Musa explained that he had never objected to the project and that the stop-work order had nothing to do with curtailing religious freedom.

"We sincerely hope the state government and the Kudat Ma Tzu Foundation will seek an amicable solution on the matter," Tsen said in a statement on behalf of 10 Buddhist bodies in Sabah and Labuan.

He said they were happy with the chief minister’s reassurance of freedom of religion as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

"We should encourage the peaceful coexistence of different religions to promote mutual respect, understanding and harmony to build a better society in Sabah and in Malaysia as a whole," he added.

Be more sensitive to religious issues, leaders told

PUTRAJAYA: Political leaders, regardless of the parties they represent, must remain sensitive to religious issues, no matter how trivial.

Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman, religious adviser to the prime minister, said such issues must never be politicised as this could disrupt peace and stability."There must be alternatives and solutions to every problem. "As political party leaders, they must refrain from making statements that can lead to provocation or anger. "They must be tolerant of each other and seek solutions that will ensure the continued religious and ethnic coexistence among all the races," he added. Hamid was referring to the controversy over the Ma Tzu Goddess of the Sea statue in Kudat, which had resulted in the resignation of Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat as the Sabah deputy chief minister.

Chong wanted the 27-metre statue to be built, but Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had ordered the work to be stopped. Musa said the decision to stop the construction followed objections from other quarters.

During a meeting with 50 Christian, Buddhist and Taoist leaders, Musa said the United Sabah Islamic Association, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, Persatuan Belia Intelek Kudat, Kudat As-Syakirin mosque committee and Umno Kudat were unhappy with the site for the statue. They objected because the statue was being built too close to the district mosque. Musa said the state government had offered an alternative site for the statue and agreed to pay compensation for the cost incurred. He accused Chong of trying to politicise the issue, adding that the original site of the statue had been given to a shipping company to put up a building.

Hamid said constructing places of worship for all races had never been a problem. "It is not an issue at all, but the location matters."So, it becomes the responsibility of all quarters and the leaders to find a suitable site that will not create problems for someone else. "Sensitivity of the location must never be overlooked," he said.


Faizal said...

dont be damn stupid, freedom to religion in Malaysia is not a fallacy, because beside Federal Constitution as supreme law, we have Syariah Law to secure the position of Islam in Malaysia. Read Article 3 and Article 11 carefully with wide open eyes. As Islam as religion of Federation, government is giving enough to freedom of religion, dont be over speak in this issue.

Nik Mohd Zain said...

I feel sorry for you faizal. Firstly, you obviously can't articulate yourself properly, and secondly, you have a very miopic view of what freedom of religion is. If I read it correctly, you seem to think that just because the position of Islam is secure, that everyone else's religion doesn't matter. Islam didn't form this nation and bring about independence (Neither did Tunku see it that way), Malaysians (Chinese, Indians and Malays) did - remember that before you decide to go on talking about religion with little regard for other people's religions.

But I guess since you can't write properly, you probably cannot read properly, so you don't see the point of what has been said nor the evidence presented... all of which from mainstream media.

Articles of law and the constitution? So what? What the book says and what happens on the ground are 2 different things.

Nuff said, the articles speak for themselves - and eventually, so will the voters.

It's because of people like you that this nation is going down the drain. You think that just because you are part of a majority population that you can do as you wish and tell people what they can talk about... sorry buddy, get your head out of your ass and smell the roses - we live in the real world, not in the depths of some people's religious and racial miopia.