16 DECEMBER 2014
We should not be surprised at the news that the police in Johor recently detained Father Cyril Mannayagam and seized his hymnals. I certainly am not for I predicted that such scenarios would happen when the court gave its ruling on the Allah case. I said at the time that despite the assurances that the decision was confined to the Herald and the 10-point ‘solution’ put forward by the government, the effects of the decision would be felt far beyond the readership of the Herald. It gives me no joy to have been proven right.
It is outrageous that a small group of Orang Asal Christians and their priest should made to suffer the indignities and deprivation that they have endured, particularly during the Advent season leading up to Christmas. Malaysians should be alarmed by the fact that the police are now venturing into religious policing, emboldened perhaps by the impunity with which the religious bigots have been carrying out their disgraceful activities.
I have asked this question and I will ask it again: Who is running this country? Is it the government of Najib Razak or is it the religious authorities egged on by the likes of the repugnant and vacuous Perkasa and Isma? Every rational Malaysian can see that Najib Razak has caved in, cowering to the demands of the extremist groups and washed his hands of protecting the rights of the minority Malaysians.
I wish to echo the words of Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) president Rev Dr Justin Wan, who said of the Allah ban: “The prohibition not only prohibits the physical act of using the prohibited words. The effect goes deeper by taking away our members’ means of obtaining hope, spiritual strength and sense of purpose. In a sense, the prohibition takes away from us the most important thing in our lives.” Our Federal Constitution guarantees our rights but the very people who are entrusted to honour those guarantees have failed us. Does anyone care about the constitutional rights of the hundreds of thousands of Sarawakian and Sabahan Christians who live and work in West Malaysia and of the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christian Orang Asal there? It truly saddened me to read that the Sultan of Selangor said the seized Al-Kitab were stamped to ensure they are kept out of Selangor.
I am thankful for the 25 eminent Malays who have recently made their voices heard, and the many Muslims who are coming forward to be #26 in supporting the rational and logical letter signed by the 25. What a blessing these voices are to Malaysians, especially to Christians this Christmas season. It gives us hope that the increasing voices of the moderate Muslims will drown out the childish name-calling, hateful insults and empty bluster and bravado of Perkasa, Isma and the extremist groups in UMNO Baru.
Now that the previously silent Malays have been moved to speak up against intolerance and extremism, the silence of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Attorney General is even more deafening. They would be wise to take heed of the wishes of the majority of Malaysians who do not want to be associated with extremist and supremacist bigots.
Chairman, PKR Sarawak
ADUN, N70 Ba’ Kelalan.