Politicking the church burnings

Walski left me a comment on my previous post about the church attacks, saying that the one thing that we should NOT do right now is speculate on who is responsible. I wholeheartedly agree, because politicking at a time like this helps none.

But I see that it is futile to even think that politicking might keep out of the way.

Immediately after I read that article on the church burnings, I read this on Malaysian Insider HERE:

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim today condemned Umno and urged the government to take full responsibility for the church attacks.

The title of the said article? “Pakatan wants UMNO to take responsibility for church attacks”

Look. I don’t care if you *think* that UMNO is responsible. But what the hell do you expect as a response from this accusation?

THIS, also from Malaysian Insider, is what comes in reply:

Hishammauddin also laughed off allegations made by Pakatan Rakyat that the Umno-led government should take responsibility for the spate of church attacks.

“If they want to blame us for the attacks, then the Pakatan Selangor government should take responsibility (because all the attacks happened in the state),” he said.

So what comes out of this? Another spat between the political parties over who should be held responsible.

Hello-o. We’re forgetting that *individuals* were involved here. I don’t care whether they are politicians, political party members, or kids who have been terribly misguided. The people responsible for the acts themselves have to be identified.

This is not a time to play politics. Sure, I’m naive and whatnot, seeing as how this whole issue was a political issue to start off with.

But if we want to get to the bottom of it, we’ve already taken a wrong turn.

P.S. And what’s this about using the ISA if need be? Again, I repeat. There has got to be enough laws in our country that allow the police to detain people who threaten to harm others, without resorting to using the ISA.

Churches attacked..?!

First, one in KL got torched. The Malaysian Insider HERE:

A city church in the leafy Desa Melawati suburb was set on fire at midnight as police warned angry Muslim groups not to protest a controversial ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use “Allah” in its national language section.The attack on the Metro Tabernacle A/G, an Assemblies of God church in Jalan 4/4C Desa Melawati, completely gutted its administrative office on the ground floor. There were no reported injuries in the midnight attack.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohamad Sabtu Osman said it was premature to link the attack on the church to the protests over the Allah ban.

Then a second attempted attack on a church in PJ. Also the Malaysian Insider HERE:

A Catholic church next to the Assunta Hospital here came under attack early this morning, just hours after another church in nearby Kuala Lumpur was torched.Roman Catholic church officials said some homemade explosives were lobbed into the Church of the Assumption in Jalan Templar at about 4am.

“It did not explode,” said Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of Catholic paper Herald.

This is people gone mad. Attacking places of worship?! Whatever next? (I don’t even want to think about it)

It’s ‘premature’ to link it to the Allah ban, but it’s also rather difficult not to link them together.

I don’t understand. Why the violence? Why the hostility?

Are we so damned hot-headed, so intolerant, that we cannot resolve what started as a non-issue without burning something down?

This act is not only burning a church. It is also burning that already fragile, invisible bridge between the people of Malaysia.

Refer also Walski’s statement HERE.

The bureau that started it all..

.. Of course, I’m talking about the BTN, or the Biro Tata Negara, or the National Civics Bureau.

For quite some time now, the issue about BTN being a machinery to ‘brainwash’ the general public has been brought up. Horror stories of how students told that one race is superior over another, of how certain students were given ‘warnings’ to be careful of other races, and the like.

Personally, of course I have no idea whether or not it is true.

However, as I’ve come to understand it, our Prime Minister Najib had made a decision, or rather, the Cabinet made a decision not too long ago, that they would ‘revamp’ the structure of BTN, as it did not gel with Najib’s ‘1Malaysia’. From an article dated Nov 30:

The cabinet has agreed to revamp the content of the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN, or National Civics Bureau) programmes to fall in line with the prime minister’s 1Malaysia concept.

Speaking to reporters in the Parliament lobby today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said the decision was made so that the curriculum will be ‘inclusive’ rather than divisive.

Asked if this vindicates critics, he replied: “I don’t know what allegations were made. But I know that the curriculum now should be inclusive to be in line with what PM wants – 1Malaysia. If you only want the course(s) to be for one racial group, then it’s not 1Malaysia.”

I think that sort of got everything unstuck. Here I thought, “So finally they acknowledge the fact that BTN has been divisive.”

But seriously, things are starting to look very very messy. We have here another excerpt from another article dated Dec 1:

[Nazri] also admitted that the programme was used to instil confidence in the Malay community so that they had nothing to feel inferior about.

Sometimes it was used to support certain individual to probably become leader of the party… that was done before,” he said.

“What I am trying to say is that the module before was to instil confidence in the Malays and now it is to instil the module of 1Malaysia… How can you have 1Malaysia when the course is for Malays and you don’t have courses for other communities, so it is against 1Malaysia,” he added.

Dr Mahathir has a different opinion, from article dated Dec 6:

There is no need to revamp National Civics Bureau (BTN) training modules as in the current form, they were fine for instilling the patriotic spirit among Malaysians, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

No need to revamp…I think it is better to retain the modules,” he told reporters.

Nazri (again!) has this to say to Dr M, from article dated Dec 7:

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has branded former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad a ‘racist’ for saying that there was no need to revamp the National Civics Bureau (BTN) training modules.”I know Dr Mahathir commented on patriotism and all that, yes, I agree on patriotism but not only for the Malays. It’s for all.

“You must remember that during his time when he was the prime minister, he was talking about (how) we must all think as Malaysians […] now that he’s not (the) prime minister, you read his blog, it’s bloody racist.

Dr Mahathir (this is starting to become something like a ping-pong game between the both of them, and through the media no less!) responds, from article dated Dec 8:

The former premier is peeved with Nazri for describing the 84-year-old politician as a racist over his stand with regards to the National Civics Bureau (BTN) issue.

When prodded for a response at a function this afternoon, Mahathir, who is still an Umno member, fired: “I must be a racist if Nazri says I am racist. Don’t ever say that I am not. He knows everything. He belongs to a party which is racist… which is Umno.”

“Umno is a party perkauman and is meant only for Malays and nobody (else) can join. So he (Nazri) is in a racist party but says he is against racism. So he should resign from the party,” he added.

From the same article as above, Nazri fires back:

That is the most stupidest statement that I have heard in my life,” he told reporters in Parliament. “It only confirms what I said was right.”

“When you want to talk about forming the party, he (Mahathir) was involved in forming the party. That is not my problem, that’s his problem. I only joined the system as it is,” he added.

Continuing the tirade, the minister said: “If Umno is a racist party, he was president of a racist party, so he is a racistlah. The argument does not make him less of a racist.”

*If I may say so, this is the ‘most stupidest’ exchange I’ve heard (or rather, read, in this instance) in my life.

Muhyiddin, our Deputy Prime Minister, decides to defend Dr M, from article dated Dec 9 (today):

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that it is rather extreme to label former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a racist.

“So, to label him as a racist is rather extreme. He (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz) is my friend too but I don’t know how it (labelling Mahathir) could have come about. Under the country’s political situation today, many people can misinterpret,” he told Malaysian journalists in Tokyo yesterday.

He said it would be better if everyone would adopt the ‘talk less’ approach.

“Ideally, we should not be seen as debating openly. I feel there is no need to debate or enter into polemics on government agencies such as the BTN (National Civics Bureau),” he said.


Far from being able to laugh or say “Up yours!” to them, I have this vague feeling of utter disappointment.

I’m no supporter of UMNO, or Barisan Nasional for that matter. This much should already be clear to most who bother to read what I have to say. So under such circumstances, where UMNO is threatening to tear itself into pieces, a typical reaction *might* be to be jubilant about it. Here we have two members of UMNO, practically yelling out for the whole world to hear, that UMNO is a racist political party.

My feeling of disappointment, I guess, stems from the fact that our country’s leaders comprise of such characters.

Whether we support them or not, whether we like them or not, whether we acknowledge them or not; like it or not, these are the people ‘up there’ at the moment. And like it or not, we (the general Malaysian public, “we”) get dragged along for the ride.

Maybe all this is needed. For change to happen, maybe something like this has to first occur.

In a way, I’m glad that the BTN issue is being brought up. There were too many dodgy things about it to start off with. The more informed the public is, the better off we are.

But in some weird (you might even call it perverse if you so wish) way, I almost wish the UMNO/BN politicians could have handled this slightly better. After all, whether or not we get that 2-party system going on, or whether or not we manage to swing Pakatan Rakyat to be the government of the day during the next general elections, we still need people of calibre in the places ‘up there’.

Otherwise, what the hell are we doing ‘down here’?

Where is the love?

From the Malaysian Insider HERE (highlights my own):

A group of Malay-Muslim protesters claiming to be residents of Section 23 have threatened bloodshed unless the state government stopped the construction of a Hindu Temple.Amid chants of “Allahuakbar,” the group also left the severed head of a cow at the entrance of the State Secretariat here as a warning to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.


“I challenge YB Khalid, YB Rodziah and Xavier Jeyakumar to go on with the temple construction. I guarantee bloodshed and racial tension will happen if this goes on, and the state will be held responsible,” shouted Ibrahim Haji Sabri amid strong chants of “Allahu Akbar!”

Ibrahim identified himself as the Deputy Chairman of the Resident’s Committee against the building of the temple in S23 here, which is perceived by some as being a Muslim majority area.


Mohd. Zurit Bin Ramli, who claims to be the secretary of the “Coalition of Malaysian NGOs” echoed Ibrahim’s stand on the matter, saying that it was irresponsible on the part of the state government to approve the construction as there was apparently a “90 per cent” majority Muslim population in Section 23.“With a temple on our residential area, we cannot function properly as Muslims. The temple will disrupt our daily activities like prayers in the Surau. We cannot concentrate with the sounds coming from the temple,” stated Zurit.

There is absolutely zero decency in this.

This group of individuals give Islam a very bad name. The Islam I know is nothing like what they are exemplifying here.

I may not be Muslim, but I know that Islam does not condone violence. Islam does not condone racial or religious segregation. Islam encourages acceptance and respect amongst different people who are of different faiths.

Islam is not like this.

I am now so disturbed, words fail me.

They actually brought a severed head of a cow to the State Secretariat building. They wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t know that the cow is sacred in Hinduism. And yet they did that, knowingly disrespecting those of the Hindu faith.

They said that with the temple in the residential area, they ‘cannot function properly as Muslims’. I don’t believe this. I believe that Muslims who believe strongly in their own faith can and will find it in themselves to respect the need of people from other faiths to fulfill their religious obligations. I believe that they can and will find in themselves their connection to Allah, whether or not there is a temple nearby.

I believe Muslims who believe strongly in their own faith will not do something like this.

Islam is. Not. Like. This.

This is beyond any damned line we can draw. It’s beyond political, beyond racial, and beyond religious lines. Human decency crosses all those lines. This action crosses all lines of human decency.

Where is the love?

Ku Li to Kelab UMNO in Melbourne

There is almost nothing positive to say about politics in Malaysia. Let’s face it, reading the news is depressing.

It is in this mood that I came across THIS speech made by Ku Li to Kelab UMNO in Melbourne. If you have not read it, I would suggest you read it in full at The Malaysian Insider. I quote some parts of it here:

Our method of racial power-sharing (here he is referring to Barisan Nasional) is primarily a system for resolving conflict in a deeply divided society. It was designed as an interim work-around, an early stage on the way to “a more perfect union” and not as the desired end-state. Over the years, however, we have put up barricades around our system as if it were a fore-ordained and permanent ideal. In doing so, we have turned a half-way house into our destination, as if we must forever remain a racially divided and racially governed society.Instead, our ideal must be to become a free and united society in which individuals can express their ethnic and religious identities without being imprisoned in them. We must aim for a society in which public reasoning and not backroom dealing determines our collective decisions.


The racial power-sharing model now practiced by Barisan is broken. It takes more honesty than we are used to in public life to observe that this is not a temporary but a terminal crisis. An old order is ending. Our problem is that while this past winds down, smoothly or otherwise, the future is not yet here. We are caught in between.


Begin with our common humanity. Respect [for] our common humanity must override all lesser affiliations, including race.


If you reflect on yourselves, you might find that all kinds of identity matter to you: that you are a graduate of such and such a university, that you speak these languages, support this football team, enjoy certain food or music, love to travel, can write computer code, have read such and such books, and have so-and-so as friends. Just reflect on how you identify yourselves in your Facebook profiles. Is race the only thing you regard as important about yourselves? Is it the most important thing?


I would be offended if you tried to measure and determine my racial identity, and it would tell me that there was something deeply wrong with your worldview. I am not Malay in the sense in which water is H2O.


We may not have much choice over how others categorise us, but we certainly have a choice about the relative importance to place on our own and therefore on the others’ racial identity. We have a choice in how much weight we put on it, and in how high in our scheme of values we put it.


If we see race as a watertight category, then you are either of race X or not, and everything else: your habits, thought-patterns, loyalties and politics must all follow from that. Then race becomes destiny. The politics of this kind of conception of race will always divide, and the ultimate solution to intra-racial problems it leads us to is, in the end, violence.


It is time to embrace this real diversity in our political and personal lives. Our racial identities are not silos in a cornfield, forever separate, encased in steel, but trees in our rainforest: standing distinct but inexplicable without each other and constantly co-evolving.

I was, when I got to the end of it, less depressed than when I started reading.