Monday, June 04, 2007

Freedom of Religion - A View From Azmi Sharom


At the end of the day it is simply quite cruel to not allow someone to believe what they want to believe. It is not a decision made lightly and as can be seen in Lina Joy’s situation, one that can lead to misery and heartache.

Just as I am sure many converts into Islam face misery and heartache from their respective community. It’s hard enough to face being ostraciced from family and friends without having to face legal persecution as well. When faced with two contesting human opinions on the ‘precepts’ of Islam, one which is harsh and one which is merciful, I choose the latter.

Religion is one path towards personal peace and spiritual fulfilment. It is also something which depends entirely on faith. Even if the religion is a ‘way of life’, a term commonly used to describe Islam; it still needs belief and faith. How can one be forced to follow a ‘way of life’ if one simply does not believe in it? Once the element of force comes into the picture, be it in the form of fines, imprisonment or ‘rehabilitation’, then religion ceases to be about the spiritual and becomes instead a matter of power. I can not accept that the religion I was born into and my children are raised in is about anything as crass as power.

And it is my right to believe that.

Read his full article.


samp said...

Discrimination in the private sector is everywhere. Even the Chinese businessman who is just starting gets discriminated against more established ones, unless he has a mentor to back him up.

As for career interviews, it is best to get a recommendation first. If I am using my own money, it is my right to choose whom I want - even to the extent of discrimination. Why would I want to hire someone that I cannot have lunch with, work with or converse with?

The BN government on the other hand is discriminating against the non-malays not with the malay money, but with probably the Chinese money as the latter pay the bulk of income tax collected in the country. That we are against.

David BC Tan said...

As always, Azmi Sharom hits the nail on the head. He reminds us how much clear-headed individuals are needed if Malaysia is to move ahead

kok said...

To get ahead in the world today, China has taken steps to encourage its citizens to master English and the Chinese are taking it like fish to water. Likewise, the Americans have no choice but to master Mandarin.

Bill Gates and Steven Jobs have already said that the first wave of the Internet language is almost over, i.e. English. It is time to prepare for the second wave, Mandarin.

And what do we have here? Still hanging on to the notion that Bahasa Melayu is the lingua franca of the world even as events are unfolding before their very eyes that thousands upon thousands of graduates could not get employed because of their inability to grasp the English language.

Where is the pragmatism for change? Even the hardcore communists like the Chinese have to finally gave in, swallow their pride and do what is best for the nation. Today, they call the shots and America has to kowtow to them. China does not need a military adventure but an economic one will do just fine. From the looks of it, our people here will never go for a change. The mathematics and science in English is nothing more than a cosmetic change.

It is a funny world we live in. The Americans and British are falling over each other to master Mandarin, and the Chinese are learning English at a rapid pace. And here what are we doing? Learning our Bahasa Melayu. Good luck Malaysians. Won't be long we will all be left behind.

Our politicians think there is something to gain from making racial and religious statements at the great expense of Malaysia and its ordinary people.

Sadly, they are right and have been very successful to achieve their narrow, personal and selfish aims. Enormous damage has been done to the social cohesion and development and progress of the country. It is so sorry to see them lagging further and further behind as a result of their inferiority complex. It is more sorry to see that they can trade the future of this country with their inferiority complex.

What is their definition of integrity? What is morality? What is patriotism? What is……….

Generations have been brought up with this totally unacceptable and unhealthy environment. It would take generations to heal and resolve this damage.

This bumis/non-bumis dichotomy is a well-entrenched policy which is here to stay for a long long time and eventually lead the country to ruin.

Face it, the easy part of it can be done is removing the legal discrimination, the damage is so overdone now, it may take forever to change the cultural discrimination that has been infused.

Having said that, money has to be spent on education. Only with world-class education and grasp of the global world can we have better ties with other countries. This will invariably lead to a robust knowledge based economy and more business opportunities.

vesewe said...

If anybody who thinks that corruption and racial discrimination is not wrong then there will be nothing that is wrong.

This is what actually happening in Umno. They love the two evils:

(i) corruption to enrich themselves (ii) racial discrimination to make them feel good and superior to other races (when they do not know that they still need to be spoon fed and the tongkat) and deceive the poor kampung folks that they are heroes to their race who keep on voting for them.

They are actually robbing the country by making everybody poorer, malays and other races alike. Petrol prices are raised with hundred and one excuse, and tolls are raised without any transparency, and everything has gone up making the poor becoming poorer.

I do not see anything that they can be proud of, and nothing superior about them. Even to rob, they are all given assistance and tongkat to do it by having two set of laws, one for them and one for the ordinary citizens.

ruyom said...

The reason is to help malays so that they can be at par with other races. They get all this sorts of privileges and advantages that in the end it all goes down to drain just like that. Scholarships, 7% discount on properties purchase, matriculations, Mara and the list just goes on.

Well, I did agree at first with this. But hang on, 2007-1957 is 50 years and that is like 2 generations of human beings……….what happen now? Are they at the same level with other races? In a way yes, but every way is no. I do not think so.

Malays take all these advantages as their rights and not as a stepping-stone for them to move forward. The question is how long more do they need the government to support and feed their mouth?

If you ask me that, I'd say that they need not even a single second more for all the privileges that they have. 50 years is more than enough for them to realize that they need to change.

Can someone please tell me which race in Malaysia that top the chart in drug addiction? Can someone please tell me which race in Malaysia that is in the 'deans list' for raping, illegal racing and gangsterism?

If that is what the privileges do to them, perhaps we should give them more privileges so the malays who do that will just extinct in this world leaving only the 'enlightened' one.

While the malays are 'bestowed' with all the privileges, other races are working hard to change their fate themselves, realising that the government places a greater emphasis only on malays. I have seen this and I speak from experiences.

While the non-malays are working hard, the malays are lazing around because they know that government will back them up. Well, which one do you think will excel more? The one that has no advantages but work hard or the one that has all the advantages but do nothing?

I did not say that they are all like that. Some do take full use of the advantages and they really excel. As a malay, I guess that they need to learn the hard way like other races do. Give them what they deserve or distributed the resources equally.

Am I one of them? I guess I compete fairly in my study. I refuse to go to boarding school when I get the offer and I am thankful for that. Boarding school only narrows your scope of thinking because you are just interacting with the malays.

I wholeheartedly agree with the real meritocracy effort by the government. Learn the hard way man! Feel free to share them with your friends (however be careful) and am willing to opine more.

I believe it is possible to get your message across without having to resort to name-calling. Let us not be racist for the sake of Malaysia and its people, no matter how much we resent some of the government policies that have impacted our lives.

aston said...

We have the tallest, longest, largest, greatest, grandest, biggest, everything; and now some record breaking events, falling, collapsing, cracking, bursting, break-downing incidents in new buildings. It is only the beginning.

yuking said...

Just don't ask the professionals to come back and say that Malaysia is home country since we are just - penumpang.

Nice speech there……….Did Singapore pay you for that? Because you are encouraging people to go to Singapore and never look back.

You will see an exodus of people going to Singapore and Singapore will thank Malaysia for being the surrogate mother for 12 years (free education from Standard 1 - Form 6).

Singapore is not a natural country but man-made, a trading post the British has developed into a nodal point in their worldwide maritime empire - they inherited the island without its hinterland, like a heart without a body. Don't get me? Ok.

Managing Singapore is easy? You must be kidding me. Try to read up on the history of Singapore when they first leave Malaysia to go their own way with no signposts to their next destination.

They had to build up an army from scratch, and the British had made no offer to help. They need to prevent massive unemployment when British wanted to pull out. No financial centre at the beginning, messed up the general election, the communist self-destruct was even scary……….

My history probably get the facts wrong, but what I know is that the Singapore we see today - modern, rich, shining was a colony, decrepit, poor once.

The Chinese and Indians have been in Malaysia for more than a hundred years but still some people think they are second class immigrants, not even full fledged citizens.

Let me ask you a question. If you say that the other races are second class, why collect the same amount of taxes from them? Why not has a separate taxing system for the different races? If a race contributes more to the country income, I can understand if the government decides to give that race special privileges and rights.

Otherwise, it is a silly policy that will make us lose out in the global competitive environment. How do you compete with another country, say Singapore, when you have a steady decline of human resources (the educated and technical population) to the other country? Singapore become first world within one generation. Where are we now?

It seems that they are contented by the fact that we are the leader of third world countries. Nothing to be proud of - actually - but that is their mentality……….

To be honest, I rather see Malaysia economic die than see people been unequal because of their race. Most of us here are eligible to vote, so say no to Umno and their BN bullshit. MCA, MIC are Umno's puppet.

Show me a malay who has more than 9 A1s in SPM who was turned away in his application for scholarship, and I will show you 20 non-malays in the same situation.

I wish the pro-malay special rights people could step into a non-malay shoe for one day and taste life in Malaysia.

I will just leave. Sooner or later, they are going to realize the massive brain drain - in fact they already have.

tim said...

Malaysia is the only country in the world where the constitution itself (no less) says that a particular race has to belong a particular religion. No other country follows this ruling. Not even Arabia (birthplace of Islam) or Indonesia (largest Muslim population).

reek said...

To parody a line from the song, Malaysia politicians, civil servants and those in authority are killing this country softly with their corruption.

Platitudes and promises aside, it is no joke that the level of systemic corruption in our country has gone from bad to worse. Leaders can choose to ignore it and close an eye, but the truth is everywhere we turn we see the destructive traces of corruption.

Services and infrastructure are breaking down and left unattended, trucks and buses are spewing out excessive exhaust smoke and the haze is now here every year. Road accidents are up due to unqualified drivers, and vehicles being let onto the roads in a less-than-roadworthy condition.

How is all this due to corruption? When tenders are bypassed. When a phone call is made to influence a decision. When 'under-the-table' money is passed to decision makers. When the most proficient and efficient contractor is sidestepped for the one with better 'offerings'.

This is how we get flyovers deemed unsafe, hospitals with fungus, parks turned into housing developments, roads not made to specifications, and trees felled without permission.

This is why we have increasing health costs, highway concessionaires that lose toll collections, and disappearing green lungs. All because of corruption.

Integrity is what you are when no one is looking. Malaysians need to know the effects of what they do. Things are a-changing there and all of sudden there is law and order.

Maybe we in Malaysia won't shoot our corrupt leaders and civil servants but let us do the minimum by exposing them and weeding them out of their positions.

Enough of mere talk.

molisa said...

Is the language diversity in our educational system a stumbling block to so-called 'national unity'? Despite the insistence of this idea by the self-interested ruling elite, it is simply wrong.

And the common use of English did not stop Americans from fighting Britons in the War of Independence. And let us not forget the American Civil War - both sides spoke English.

And to the contrary, we see Europeans of different mother tongues coming together in a democratic manner to forge a united continent in the form of the multilingual European Union with common standards of human rights, governance and democracy.

English-speaking people with different mother tongues are also now living peacefully in five different sovereign and independent countries namely the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and Australia.

It is time for the Malaysia ruling elite and their ideologues to stop spreading the voodoo of that language diversity hampers national unity.

The root cause of national disunity is none other than the existence of race-based political parties like Umno, MIC and MCA, which perpetuate race-based affirmative action policies and which only benefit the upper class BN gangs and their sons, daughters and cronies.

romsam said...

I applaud some person letter, on how our Malaysia former prime minister exploited the wealth of this country, to build instant bumi business tycoons and billionaires.

In his 22 years of prime minister ship, he has build on the racism in this country where people still whisper about it but are afraid to talk openly and confidently about it.

It has affected the millions of citizens who are the minority in this country. This country does not respect the minority - the Orang Asli, the Indians, the Chinese, and many others.

Let me illustrate. That is a clear example of an disadvantaged Indian family in Malaysia and there are many which are unemployed, illiterate, displaced (moved from the estates to cities without any savings), criminally inclined (40 percent of prisoners in Malaysia are Indians), alcoholics and basically eking a living on the fringes of society.

We have a society which does not want to listen, speak or even talk to them. There have been many good souls out there who have tried very hard to assist the Indians to come out of their poverty since the 70s.

As far as I know, and we have found that it is impossible for just a few groups to do that unless there is a political will for these minority groups to escape poverty.

Because of the very one-sidedness of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and a government comprising racially-based political parties, we can never achieve an equitable society. We advertise heavily that we are a multi-racial society but we all know (but are afraid to say it) that it is not.

Our own education system is not fair. It is not fair in the provision of social services. It is not fair in the promotions in the civil service. It is not fair for business licencing. This is the life story of the poor minority in my country.

Khoo Kay Peng said...

The irony is many of us wanted politicians not to churn out racial statements but we unconsciously are the main culprits.

I would like to reiterate here that not all Malays are getting special privileges from the government.

The NEP is instead used by the elites to enrich themselves. The poor, whom the policy should help, remained poor after more than 35 years after the affirmative action.

Hence, I would like to urge you to be sensitive about your own statement here as well which may hurt our Malay friends who are equally marginalised by the pro-elitist policy.

We should strive, regardless of race, to correct the social imbalances.

Anonymous said...

Hi KKP ,
For once I hear some sense in you. But is this backtracking or just another ploy

Khoo Kay Peng said...

Thanks. Not knowing who you are, I am still not reading any sensible comment from you including your current post.

If you think being sensible is backtracking or a ploy then your mind must be corrupted.

I mean it literally. Please, I have been very consistent. Otherwise, you should show proof of my inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

See, you are already passing negative judgement on me simply b'cause I have that lingering doubt. How can I not be given that your bloggers are through and through anti Malay, and so are the dappies. Just that how can you be any different - I am not born yesterday man

Khoo Kay Peng said...

See, that is what I mean. You come here with a closed up mindset. You expect people to be like what you have branded them.

If that is so, how can I be wrong about you?

You did not even make an attempt to get to know me and my background. What a disappointment.

Anonymous said...

KKP you just need to read the comments by your bloggers again. Its basically to incite racial conflicts. I wouldn't have bothered to respond otherwise. My take is you cannot be a social activist or whatever name for long if you are so prejudiced. The people around you may listen and may even nod the Malaysian way of course but they will walk away when it matters. Good luck