Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Three things we learned from the Allah case

BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
October 14, 2013

Muslim groups outside the court building Putrajaya today. The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, October 14, 2013.Muslim groups outside the court building Putrajaya today. The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, October 14, 2013.So the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Catholic Church cannot use the word Allah in its weekly publication, Herald. Understandably, there is widespread disappointment, even anger among Christians, especially those in East Malaysia who have used Allah in Christian prayers and worship services for more than 100 years. Yes, far longer than the birth of this nation or for that matter, the age of the chief protagonist, Umno.

This case has been an eye-opener and a learning experience for many.
Lesson Number 1:
Political stability counts for little if all it does is provide cover for the wicked to trample on the Constitution time and time again like a dry leaf.

Lawyers and commentators are stunned that the Court of Appeal basically junked the constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion, preferring instead some nebulous concept of confusion and stability and harmony in Malaysia.

But let us be fair to the three judges: they are only following precedent. Every time, the courts have been asked to intervene in a matter with some political importance, the Constitution has been nudged aside conveniently. It happened during the power grab in Perak and it will keep on happening as long as a significant number of Malaysians still believe that "political stability and harmony" ala Barisan Nasional (BN) is worth preserving.

And here is the irony: a large segment of East Malaysians, including Christians, voted for BN on May 5 on the basis of securing another five years of "political stability". Political stability in BN speak means total subjugation of all institutions in the country. So think about this next time you enter the polling booth.

Lesson Number 2:
Never, never, never trust a politician bearing gifts before an election. Remember the last Sarawak state election where there was palpable fear that BN could lose a bunch of seats, even possibly two-thirds control of the state assembly. There was panic and desperation in the ranks of BN leaders and Najib Razak approved a 10-point plan aimed at resolving a knot of issues with Christians, including allowing the use of the word Allah in Malay-language bibles

Nothing was too much for BN because the coalition needed the Christian vote. Idris Jala was trotted out and all sorts of promises were made.

Question: Has anyone heard from Idris on the Allah saga since then?

Question only for Christians BN ministers and MPs: Does political survival trump everything, including religious practices?

It is not too late for Idris and his Christian friends in government to do the right thing. They should tender their resignation tonight for misleading their fellow Christian brethren. Remember, beware politicians bearing gifts before an election.

Lesson Number 3:
When all hell breaks loose in Malaysia, you can always count on the conscience of Umno to speak up. I am referring to Ibrahim Ali.

Notice how the leader of all Malaysians goes AWOL every time something major happens. But not Ibrahim. Outside the court today, he could not decide whether he was a peacemaker or a stoker of trouble.

One minute, he was calling Christians his brothers and the next he was warning them not to cause any more trouble. The Mara graduate even got ahead of himself at one point, even talking about how the appellate court's decision was consistent with the Constitution.

See, that is what happens when someone without a legal background is appointed defacto Law Minister, he actually starts believing he knows something about the law. Since Malaysians have a 100-day memory, Ibrahim was for a short period the defacto Law Minister of Malaysia, appointed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Still, beggars cannot be choosers and since the president of Umno only speaks outside Malaysia, Ibrahim is these days the voice and conscience of Umno.

If he sounds like a bully, it is because that is what Umno has become. If he sounds irrational and illogical in equal parts, it is because that is what Umno has become. - October 14, 2013.
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