Friday, November 02, 2007

Religion, Tolerance and Malaysia.

The Prime Minister, in all sincerity, I am sure, has "advised" Malaysians "to understand each other’s religion so that the level of tolerance could be enhanced".
Religious tolerance comes from understanding what is happening and taking the best actions and approaches to controlling any situation.
“We should look at having discussions and exchanges of ideas to better understand what happens around us.

The PM said this at the closing of the meeting of national-level Umno Religious Bureau chairmen on Wednesday (Oct 31).

Now, I am not going to start a debate on religion and multi faiths here. I'd just like to say that for a long time I have been uncomfortable when people tell me to be more tolerant of other people's religions.

I am tolerant. I am way past tolerant.

But, I suppose, Malaysians are still trying to tolerate each other and each other's religion. How sad.

I remember in December, 2000, (while political editor with NST) I wrote an article, examining, whether Bahasa Malaysia/Melayu, as the common language of the people, had helped unite us all.
Also several incidents at some campuses that indicated latent racial polarisation and the Chinese educationists' opposition to and rejection of the setting up of Vision schools brought into play other related issues.

Of course, the picture was not rosy, judging from the views of several people I interviewed.
One of them was Prof Khoo Khay Kim who said, among other things that Malaysia would need "somebody with power to take the lead and change things."
"We need to change the mindset of the people...otherwise Malaysians will continue to be merely tolerating each other."

Thank you, Prof.
Well, it's 2007. I have had my mindset changed eons ago.
I don't do tolerate anymore.

What about you?

17 comments:

Slade said...

I'm proud of your stated stand on this issue. It should never be a matter of tolerance/intolerance to begin with. Tolerance implies some uneasy, easily-disturbed equilibrium. Rather, it should be a matter of happy acceptance: the understanding that diversity is the nature of life, that the world has many religions and that all of these have a common thread and purpose. Still above all is acceptance of the fact that we are all humans fundamentally and as such should view each other as brothers and sisters in this earthly journey. Frivolous differentiating, prejudice and distancing based on differences of religion, race and such our country in particular could and should do without.

MaryKate said...

My family celebrates Chinese New Year, Christmas and Raya together as our is a mixed marriage. My children are exposed to other religions but we always stay true to our own, I send them to extra religious classes so they have a better grip on this.
At times, they were ridiculed by both teachers and friends at school, questioning their race and religion. I always tell them that while we embrace our own religion, we should accept others openly as everyone has their own right to chose. I personally came from 2 different religions before my marriage to my husband and acceptance of my third and final one,so I dare say that I am quite exposed on this area. I tell my children that while others laugh or made fun of them, they should be proud because they have double the fun, angpows during Chinese New Year, duit Raya during Raya and loads of presents during Christmas. We never stray from what we strongly believe in religion, and yet, we embrace other races and religions easily as my family has multiple mixed marriages. I think if we have an open mind on this, it makes lives very easy for everyone as we dont need to be uneasy about others. In fact, it never bothered my husband and myself until those in schools questioned our children about race and religion. We always tell them that they are mixed and proud of it.
Malaysia is multi racial and multi religious, we are a beautiful country that lived harmoniously for many years, like slade said we can just accept others, just like they accept us. This is what makes us different and special.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Nuraina,

Long time I no bising here...

As for me, I don't tolerate other people's religion and race...

I accept them, and I respect them.

mekyam said...

Well said, Slade!

Dear Ena,

LOVE your spirited declaration! :D

I think I'll say my stance in verse...

Tolerance is actually cheek.
Acceptance is something to seek.
But the best possible state
is the ability to Appreciate!

bru99 said...

Salam Puan Nuraina

The meaning of "tolerate" is: allow the existence or occurance of without authoritative interference.
Didn't we do that all this while, won't the other side also have tolerate our existence.

ewoon said...

After 50 years, we are still talking the same s**t.

Looks like we are back to square one ain't we with these goons. You think they really care? They are giving lip-service to something the administration propagated and want preserved. This way they can continue to milk some gullible Malaysians and with their plunders buy more yachts, jets, mansions by the beach, ipods, etc.

i am past tolerant, too. i am past this administration.

PrincessJournals said...

i definitely think the word 'tolerate' should be changed to respect. after 50yrs of merdeka, we cant just tolerate other religion, race or culture we should already accept and respect them too.

lady pot pet said...

Funny how some people hide behind their religion to act on tolerance.......arrrrrghhhhhhhhhh

ahiruDin aTTan said...

Tolerate is not a good word, or it has stopped being a good word. You "tolerate" something that you don't necessary like or agree with. Meaning that you are forced to or your force yourself to like something when, in factual fact, you don't like that something.

eg

I tolerated his bitching about Pak Lah because he was buying me the drinks; otherwise, I would have walked away from table. Not that I love Pak Lah, no. Like most Malaysians who voted in the last general election, I have to tolerate his premiership because I was partly responsible in voting him into power.

Acceptance is a better word, generally. In some context, though, it may be as bad as tolerance.

Eg. But if he continues to be voted in as the PM in the next general election, I shall have to accept it as fate and divine punishment.

Respect is the word.

Then again, why is the PM talking about religious tolerance in the first place? Are things getting out of hand?

A Voice said...

I do not believe tolerance is the right word. Acceptance is more accurate. The way I see it. Generally, Malaysians and I can say all Malaysians learn to accept the diversity and differences in culture, religion and everything else.

To quote Newton's second law of mechanics, a body remain in a state of rest or constant velocity unless a force is impress on it. The problem is the existence of force. It could come in any form. but that is the reality. Our problem is that many changes were brought about with use of force. The change is only temporal

If a strong and forceful leader is what prominent historian like Prof Khoo Kay Kim believe the only way to bring about change, that means he did not learn from the subject he has been teaching. I am never impress with his view of history, neither.

Malaysians can be a stubborn and recalcitrant lot when it comes to change. Perhaps that is where force is needed. But force will only serve a temporary change. Many do not understand the drivers that can bring about change in Malaysian society, and it differs with different races and religions.

I think they way forward is good leadership someone we can trust and set a good example.

Definitely not the current one we have. I think you shouldn't take what current leader said seriously. I doubt he knows enough what he just spoke. You think he can defend what he just said in an open forum with qustions coming from the floor? He can't.

Not even the so-called brilliant SIL. He chicken out in any face off with his political rivals, within and without UMNO. Any UMNO function he attend where few critical questions and views passed through and you would see his face squirm with fear.

Social change is best brought about within society. Change will come about when people face off each other rather than talk within their own corners, albeit politely. Change will come about only when we have people mix with each other. No more segregation by education, job, economic sector, living areas, ...Change will come about when people trust each other and willing to share their life, wealth, and space.

My last word is to not entrust lawyers to bring about social change, they will just messed and confuse it with their legal jargons and adversarial ways.

Pak Idrus said...

Nuraina, Like you I do not want to touch on religion but.. Well..To me religion is personal matter and it should stay that way. Since no religion have managed to solved the peace of the world. We should stop talking about it. There would be more peace and harmony if religion is just left to the belief of the individual. For our own survival it is best that our leadership stop talking about this and that of religion. Have a nice day.

hawaiichee said...

Why is this not blogged??!! What is happening in Malaysia??? We need to spread awareness and blog this whether we are Malay, Chinese, Indian or Lain-lain.

TOPIC: BLACKED OUT NEWS: Temple Demolition in Padang Jawa
==================================================
this news was nowhere to be found on the newspapers, view video at:

http://www.malaysiakini.tv/?vid=1450

Samy: Stop temple demolitions or risk Indian votes
Oct 31, 07 5:25pm
http://www5.malaysiakini.com/news/74206

MIC chief S Samy Vellu has urged the government to stop the demolition of Hindu temples or it will risk alienating Indian Malaysian voters.

This appears to be the first time Samy Vellu had spoken out strongly on the issue which has been dogging the Hindu community, particularly in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, for the past few years.

Samy Vellu, who is also the works minister, said he had raised the issue several times during meetings with state government leaders but temples were still being demolished.

The most recent example, was the demolition of a temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya, Shah Alam, yesterday which Samy Vellu said had “hurt the feelings” of residents there.

“It is common knowledge that the majority of Indian voters, if not all Indians in Malaysia, support Barisan Nasional.

“Thus, I urge the relevant authorities not to resort to the drastic action of demolishing temples even though they are not built legally,” he said in a statement faxed from the Works Ministry.

‘We have no choice’

Samy Vellu said the Hindu community was forced to build temples on private or state land because the community did not have land to do so.

“I have on many occasions asked state and local governments to allot land for temples in every residential area, but it has yet to be implemented.

“Thus, the Hindu community has no choice but to build temples on land that is not theirs,” he added.

The veteran politician went on to quote the first pillar of the Rukun Negara - Belief in God - adding that no one should be punished for practising their respective religion.

He also urged the relevant authorities to seek alternative land for temples which have been demolished or were scheduled to be demolished.

‘No compromise’

The MIC president suggested that small temples be combined together on a larger piece of land.

“I will not compromise or tolerate anyone that does not take this issue seriously. I would also advise the Hindu community to only build temples on land where they are allowed to,” he said.

Yesterday, Samy Vellu visited Kampung Karuppiah after the demolition had taken place.

According to vernacular press reports, he was pelted with sticks and stones by angry residents.

He also reportedly lodged a complaint with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was attending a function nearby.
——-

Shah Alam council blamed for bloody fracas Nov 1, 07 7:34pm
http://www5.malaysiakini.com/news/74289

Malaysia Hindu Sangam, the umbrella body for people of that faith, today blamed the Shah Alam City Council for the violence which occurred during the demolition of a temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya on Tuesday.

MHS president A Vaithilingam said MBSA mayor Za’ba Che Rus had no control over his enforcement officers who were throwing stones into the temple while a special religious ceremony was taking place (left).

“The confrontational retaliatory action by the MBSA enforcement officers was in our opinion the cause for the violence in the temple,” said Vaithilingam in a faxed statement.

When contacted for clarifications, Vaithilingam said eye-witness reports claim MBSA enforcement officers were initially pelted with stones from a group of unknown individuals.

“But it did not come from the temple. How can they (MBSA personnel) attack devotees like that? No enforcement body in the world attacks people with stones,” he said.

In his written statement, Vaithilingam said those injured at the hands of MBSA enforcement officers included T Ganesa, the Selangor chairperson of MHS.

However, he stressed that the police were restrained compared to MBSA officers.

Against procedures

Vaithilingam also slammed Za’ba for allegedly personally telling temple authorities at 9am on Tuesday that the temple was to be demolished in the next two hours.
He said the temple was a large structure with many facilities that cannot be relocated in the short period of time.

“What else can the innocent devotees do when given only two hours? Attempting to destroy deities (in the temple) is very sensitive and is considered an insult to the Hindu community,” he added.

Vaithilingam also criticised Za’ba for reneging an agreement between MBSA, the Selangor state government, MIC officials and temple officials on Oct 28.

The deal apparently gave the temple a grace period until Deepavali celebrations. Deepavali will be celebrated by all Hindus on Nov 8.

Vaithilingam also urged MIC leaders to open dialogue with leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) to resolve the matter.

Five-inch parang wound

In a separate development, Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar revealed that some of the devotees who suffered injuries during the scuffle were not given immediate medical attention.

Citing an example, Uthayakumar said that he witnessed one detainee who had a five-inch cut on the head while he was detained at the Section 11 Shah Alam police station.

He claimed that the wound was inflicted by a MBSA enforcement officer with a parang. He added that the detainee was not given medical attention even after 24-hours of the incident.

“Only after persistent appeals by Hindraf did the police take this victim to the hospital,” said Uthayakumar, in a letter to Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail. The letter was made available to Malaysiakini.

In his letter, Uthayakumar urged Abdul Gani to take immediate action against those responsible for the injuries suffered by devotees during the open fracas.

Uthayakumar and three other lawyers were arrested while accompanying devotees who were lodging a report on the incident in Kampung Karuppiah, which is located within Kampung Rimba Jaya.

——-

Kg Rimba Jaya fracas: Four lawyers released Bede Hong | Oct 31, 07 2:30pm
http://www5.malaysiakini.com/news/74192

The Kampung Rimba Jaya in Padang Jawa, near Shah Alam was a chaotic scene last night when residents tried to prevent the Shah Alam City Hall from demolishing their houses.

The residents’ attempt to save their homes turned physical and bloody when scores were hurt in the ensuing melee.

Fifteen residents were also arrested and are now being detained at the Shah Alam Section 11 police station.

In the end, over 200 houses, a 100-year-old temple and a surau have been levelled to the ground by the authorities. Even the presence of MIC president S Samy Vellu could not save the houses and the temple.

And later in the day, four lawyers - human rights lawyers P Uthayakumar and P Waythamoorthy as well as DAP lawyers M Manoharan and S Ganabathi Rao - were also arrested by the police when they attempted to enter Section 11 police station to help the release of the residents.

The police have today obtained a four-day remand order against the residents, said DAP legal bureau chief A Sivanesan. However at 5.30 in the evening, a 16-year-old boy and a 52-year-old woman were released.
The lawyers were all released on police bail at about 7.45pm.
When contacted Sivanesan also said that at least two residents suffered serious injuries.

“A woman, in her fifties and a 16-year-old boy suffered great injury. Their clothes are soaked with their own blood and they are still wearing them,” he said. These are two who were released by the police in the evening.

Tamil dailies today also carried images of another man with head injury.

Lawyers manhandled

Earlier in the day today, the police took statements from the four lawyers.
The lawyers were arrested for creating a scuffle in front of the Section 11 police station after they were refused entry by the police.

“Their purpose there was to assist residents lodge reports against the state government and relevant authorities. They were also to inquire on the status of those arrested and detained,” said Hindraf lawyer R Gengadharan when contacted today.

“The conduct of arresting and detaining by the police is unjustified,” he said.

Last night, Waythamoorthy lodged a police report against the conduct of the police in arresting him and the other three lawyers.

In the report lodged at the same police station, Waythamoorthy said that he was manhandled and had a machine-gun pointed at him when he inquired as to why the lawyers were being refused entry.
“I was pushed down and stepped on my leg, preventing me from getting up,” his report stated.
“I injured my head, my back and elbow…the same constable threatened to shoot me if I didn’t go out and his machine-gun was pointed at me while I was still on the ground,” he said.

He added in his report that he and the other lawyers faced racial abuses from the other police personnel at the station, with one policeman allegedly stating that he would “make sure I’m kept in lock up tonight”.

Baton-charged

Meanwhile, human rights activist S Kumaravel, 44, said a surau was also demolished by council authorities in the eviction exercise yesterday.

The surau is located in Rimba Jaya, about one kilometre away from the temple. The Sri Maha Mariaman temple is located in Rimba Jaya. Residents from nearby Kampung Karuppiah carry out their prayers at the temple.

Kumaravel, who is Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) exco member, said over 200 houses in Rimba Jaya were demolished in the exercise that saw at least 300 police personnel, including the Federal Reserve Unit, participating.

Rimba Jaya is mostly populated by Malays while Kampung Karuppiah is mostly populated by Indians.

The MPSA enforcement officers were beating people with batons, said Kumaravel.

“I saw an enforcement officer pulling out a knife and waving it around threateningly,” said Kumaravel.

It took almost three hours to demolish the Sri Maha Mariaman temple. The temple’s nursery was the first to be demolished when the exercise began yesterday morning.

After a pause at noon, the demolition continued at 2pm and continued for another three hours amidst resistance from at least 400 residents. Several hundred council enforcement officers were also present.

News reports said stones were thrown between both sides.

Shots fired

In addition to that, today’s Sin Chew Daily reported that police fired several shots at a lorry, puncturing at least one tyre. Nanyang Siang Pau reported that five shots were fired. The report said several residents had tried to escape the police in the lorry. They were later arrested.

There were also accounts of a stabbing, but which could not be verified as yet.

“They should have waited until Deepavali is over before they begin demolishing the temple. At least the residents have somewhere to pray,” said Kumaravel.

Early this morning, he had lodged a police report at Section 11 police station against the state government for ordering the eviction exercise.

“The police told us that the order was from the Menteri Besar (Mohd Khir Toyo). There was no court order to demolish the surau or the temple,” he added.

Tamil dailies also reported that the residents had shown their anger towards Samy Vellu for not doing anything to help them. Samy Vellu is quoted as saying that he would raise the matter with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

——-

Temple demolition motion shot down Yoges Palaniappan | Nov 1, 07 4:37pm
http://www5.malaysiakini.com/news/74264

An opposition motion to debate the temple demolition in Kampung Rimba Jaya, Shah Alam yesterday was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker.

Deputy Speaker Lim Si Cheng rejected M Kulasegaran’s (DAP-Ipoh Barat) motion on the grounds that it “does not warrant immediate action” as the temple was located at a squatter area and that matter has been referred to the court.

Kulasegaran, in his urgent motion, said that the Indian community in the country is puzzled, shocked and saddened by the demolition of the 100-year old Sri Maha Mariamman temple.

It was reported that several hundred police personnel and local council authorities clashed with the residents who sought to stop the demolition.

According to Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), at least 300 police personnel and council workers had cordoned off the temple yesterday morning.

It said council workers began hurling stones and beating devotees with sticks and batons when they tried to halt the demolition.

Kulasegaran described the demolition as “an extreme act which is unconstitutional, criminal, despicable and unrelenting.”

“Temple demolitions have been going on in the country for the past few years and has worsened recently,” said Kulasegaran.

Without notice

“The temple was demolished cruelly by 500 policemen, FRU personnel and local authorities without even respecting or considering the feelings of Hindus,” he said, adding that the demolition was exercised without proper notice and procedures.

“250 houses and a surau, for which an alternative land has been given, were also demolished in the exercise.”

Kulasegaran explained that the temple devotees were kept from the temple area yesterday by Indian gangsters hired by the contractors who broke temple deities which are scared for Hindus.

“The clean and beautiful temple, which used to be the place of worship for more than 1,500 devotees, was torn down using tractors and other machineries yesterday,” he said.

He said that demolition is against the Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of religion in the country.

Also, he added, to destroy a place of worship is a serious crime under the Penal Code.

Kulasegaran urged the government to immediately stop the demolition of temples to preserve the culture and identity of Indians in the country.
Sweeping under the carpet

In a statement issued later, Kulasegeran said that the rejection was unfair, undemocratic and against all decent norms of fair and adequate debate in a democratic society.

“Parliament is the place for elected representatives to bring up issues of public importance but urgent motions for debate are routinely rejected in an off-handed brutal manner that makes a mockery of democratic practice,” said Kulasegaran.

“The speaker has shut out an issue of great importance by not allowing a full and frank debate thus preventing the government from making a stand or policy statement of its attitudes to Hindus in the country,” he added.

“By denying the motion the government has swept another issue of great public importance under the carpet.”

Frank said...

Nuraina

A slight diversion...

Time to really ge the Nurin Alert going.

Another missing girl from Gopeng found drowned. Not sure yet whether it is homicide case as post mortem is currently being conducted.

Read here: http://malaysianunplug.blogspot.com/2007/11/missing-girl-from-gopeng-found-dead.html

old female fart said...

Malaysians should stop thinking they're so special in having to tolerate/accept/accomodate/receive/welcome/embrace/respect people from different religio-cultural backgrounds.

If we are educated and exposed to the human predicament we'll soon realise that this multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious phenomenon is a universal one which most people and most nations face. Malaysia is not uniquely placed in this.

What is different here is that it is the basis of our socio-political and economic structure which has within it elements which are discriminatory and divisive. Hence the need to have organised/contrived "tolerance events" in the form of national Open Houses etc. Hence the statements of politicians and leaders which sometimes do more harm than good, especially when it is perceived that the political parties they represent are bigoted indeed!

At the one-to-one level I think Malaysians have no problems in getting along with one another. But I do have my doubts with larger groups and communities!

Hence the call for greater tolerance/acceptance... whatever.

Frank said...

Pak Idrus

Well said. There is too much of others busybodying other people about religion and about others' religion.

And I do really hate politicians and Ministers pontificating to us about tolerance, etc etc when they are the last persons to talk about it.

Religion is a personal matter, as you rightly said, and politicians, of all persons, should stay out of it when making public statements. "Sheesh" as the good Captain on the other blog says.

Slade said...

Pak Idrus in an earlier post made an apt point, and indicates a practical way of dealing with the issue. Religion (or race) is personal and we certainly needn't let these creep into our interactions with one another or colour how we regard one another. To quarrel about something as personal as religion is akin to quarreling about the shape of each other's noses. The silliness of it all requires no further remarks.

As for our politicians, they cannot possibly be serious about 'Malaysia' or 'Malaysians', i.e., about seriously holding the ship together, as long as they continue divide our society, with their rhetoric and policies, along religious and racial lines.

There is still a silver lining to the state of affairs, and it is reflected in the wisdom of those who have commented here. It is my hope that the sentiment underlying these voices is representative of the larger society, or one that continues to grows therein.

p.s. Mekyam, thank you for your comment. I enjoyed reading your verse.

svllee said...

Hello Nuraina, i am sorry to have missed catching up with you guys in KL,. thanks for supporting MALAYSIANS. Indeed 'tolerance' as Rocky put it so aptly above is not the right term. I would like to use 'understand' and 'appreciate' each others' differences, it doesn't have to be religion only, customs, traditions and habits should be included.