What a sham: Christian-Putrajaya talks only covered tip of the iceberg
LETTER It appears from the mainstream media that the luncheon meeting on Wednesday between Christian leaders and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was only over three issues viz. the appointment of heads of mission schools, teaching Bible Knowledge in schools and tax exemption status for Christian organizations.
It’s a big mystery why the media did not mention the mile-long list of grievances that Christians in Malaysia have, especially against select fanatics who often appear to be holding Government to ransom through sheer blackmail.
Needless to say, the issue of the Government not allowing the term Allah as the Christian term for God in Malay print has been well-debated.
Also well-debated is the issue of the Government not allowing the Holy Bible to be in Malay print.
Christians have also been accused of using their works of charity as an elaborate cover to convert people of other faith to their faith. Why don’t people of other faiths, in that case, do works of charity for their people? And while they are at it, don’t send the children to mission schools.
This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Running contra to Article 3
The mother of all issues in the country is the increasing Islamisation in defiance of Article 3 of the Federal Constitution. The Article provides for freedom of worship while mentioning Islam but does not specifically state that the religion from the faraway deserts of Arabia has official status.
This is as it should be in the Federal Constitution since Islam, like Confucianism, has ossified and fossilized through time. The movement in Islam to ditch the four Hadiths – Traditions (Saying/Interpretations) of the Prophet – and go back to the Quran for a re-interpretation to suit contemporary times has been still-born.
Malaysia is a secular state where there’s separation of state and Church.
Nevertheless, Article 3 is being observed more often than not in the breach and this has created an uneasy situation where the Syariah Court, an inferior court in law like the Native Court, has naively been allowed by the civil courts to claim jurisdiction over non-Muslims. The main problem is that the Judiciary is packed with 90 per cent of its members from one community which lives in the superstitious fear of going to hell. We might as well appoint bomohs as Judges.
Article 3 is also not applicable, under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, in Sabah and Sarawak.
The reality is that non-Muslims are not picked as Governors in the two states ever since the colonial British left. The last non-Muslim Governors in Sabah and Sarawak were British.
To add insult to injury, Putrajaya will move heaven and earth to ensure that no non-Muslim ever becomes Chief Minister in Sabah or Sarawak.
This is happening in two states where the Natives, Dusun and Dayak respectively, are overwhelmingly Christian when not pagan. There are very few Muslims among the Dayak but more among the Dusun and confined to a few tribes like the Bisaya, Orang Sungei – think Bung Mokhtar – and Ranau Dusuns.
Christian bins and bintes
Still all these have not prevented the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya from classifying thousands of Dusun as Muslim just because they have a Bin or Binte in their names. Christians in Sabah generally have a Bin or Binte in their names.
It’s not known how the practice started. No prizes for guessing that some fanatic in the NRD might have suggested to the Dusuns of old that it was necessary to have a son of and daughter of in their names and expressed as Bin and Binte. Once having adopted Bin and Binte, it was only a matter of administrative policy for the NRD to stamp Islam on the MyKads of Christians with a Bin and Binte in their names.
If a Christian with a Bin or Binte wants to have it removed from his MyKad, he or she has to go to the Syariah Court and seek a declaration that they are not Muslims or that they had left Islam. The latter declaration is an impossibility since Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam.
Why should a non-Muslim go to the Syariah Court to get a declaration that he or she is not a Muslim? This is in defiance of the secular nature of the Federal Constitution and Article 3 which provides for freedom of worship. If a person says he’s not a Muslim, he or she is not a Muslim. Period.
In neighbouring Sarawak, it was discovered recently that thousands of Dayak schoolchildren had been classified in their school records as Malays. When these children turn 12 and apply for a MyKad, they would probably be given one stamped with the word Islam since they have been classified as Malay.
The Sabah and Sarawak examples on Bin, Binte, MyKad, Islam and Malay are evidence that the fanatics in Putrajaya have ditched the old, slow and torturous method of carrying out missionary activities to convert people to Islam.
This reminds us of Parameswara, the Hindu founder of the Malacca Empire, who one day declared that all his Hindu subjects were henceforth Muslims. This was after he married a daughter of the Sultan of Pasai in North Sumatra and embraced Islam. Parameswara, a refugee prince from Palembang in Sumatra, had earlier killed the Crown Prince of Thailand in Tumasek (Singapore) and ruled in his place instead for six months. When got news that the Thai King was coming for his head, he fled to the swamps of Malacca.
Did the concerns in Sabah and Sarawak feature in the luncheon talks between Christian leaders and Najib?
It’s a well-known fact that the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia have been denied permission to build their Churches. The media has carried many stories of Orang Asli Churches being torn down. The matter has even gone to Court in some cases.
Like the Dusun and Dayak in Malaysian Borneo, the Orang Asli feel that Christianity is a faith that allows them to keep their language, culture, customs and traditions.
This cannot be said to be the same if they become Muslim. It’s akin to cultural genocide.
Denied rights of Article 153
Another sore point is that the non-Muslim Natives in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli have been denied the benefits of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and the New Economic Policy (NEP).
This is for no other reason than the fact that they are non-Muslims.
How can a son of the soil be denied his birthright by reason of the profession of his Faith? It would seem that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia, not recognized in the Federal Constitution as Natives, appear to have more rights than the true Natives in Malaysia. The Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia are immigrants and the descendants of immigrants from the nearby islands in southeast Asia, the Indian sub-continent and parts of Arabia.
The NEP, among its three tenets, provides for 30 per cent of Malaysia’s corporate economy – that publicly-listed – to be owned, controlled and managed by the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli and the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia.
Similarly, Article 153 reserves a Special Position for the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli and Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia by way of a reasonable proportion in four specific areas viz. intake into the civil service, intake into institutions of higher learning owned by the Government and training privileges, government scholarships, and opportunities from the government to do business.
The Borneonisation of the civil service in Sabah and Sarawak, pledged by the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, has also seen the non-Muslim Natives being denied their fair share of jobs, especially that at the top. If and when complaints are lodged on the matter, the routine reply from Putrajaya in Parliament is that “the complainants are not qualified to hold such jobs”.
Christian leaders in Malaysia must go beyond polite small talk and jokes at luncheon gatherings with the Government to get to grips with the many problems facing members of the faith in the country. This is what Christians expect of their leaders.
Otherwise, the Government will turn around and claim that the Christians are a happy lot in Malaysia and have few, if any, complaints against the administration.