This must the conversational version of St Vitus’ Dance. Or is it a politician’s? Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was char-grilled by BBC’s Sarah Montague on Hardtalk. I’m kinda late in tuning in, since I didn’t watch the programme, but I managed to catch this online
“The economic growth of the non-malays is faster after the New Economy Policy than before. The share of the economy cake is bigger deeper wider than before. …. Even the Indians have got better household income than the Malays.”
Really, Mr Syed Hamid? The growth of all racial groups were better after the NEP because there was more economic activity, not because of the prescriptions of the NEP. Same goes with the cake. And btw, where did he get the statistics to boldly say that the Indians have got better household income than the Malays. I really would be interested in that information.
“We need to overcome the problem of sensitivities. We wanted to establish the integrated school, where everyone study the language, study the medium of instruction under one school. But here in the particular case, the Chinese does not want. They want a separate school of their own. So now what we have done, in the national school, we have brought in, you can study Chinese, you can study Tamil, you can study other ethnic (languages), you can’t get that in other places. I think we recognize their problems and it is not a problem that we cannot overcome.”
Yes. There is a certain degree of freedom when it comes to learning the major ethnic group’s own languages, in Malaysia. I have to concede that. Malaysia allows that freedom to embrace one’s own culture to an extent that is not enjoyed by some other countries. America tried to “Americanise” all its migrant communities to have a single national identity. Malaysia never tried to homogenise its people, thank God.
Sarah: “Lina Joy, she tried to convert to Christianity but was not allowed to”)
Syed Hamid: “no no no… I think you have made the whole thing turn into something that is negative. Lina Joy wanted to change her name. She was never not allowed to convert to Christianity, or what ever religion she has chosen. But, the person is born with the identity card. That is a system that we have in Malaysia, the ID. And that ID she wants to change, that creates the problem. It has nothing to do with the fact, that no body has arrested her, and forced her to become a Muslim. To come back to convert back to as Muslim. But the court decided on the basis that you cannot change your name in the ID. But she has got her own choice, she has made her own choice, in wanting to be what she has chosen. I don’t think we stop that. ”
Syed Hamid does St Vitus Dance on this again…rather more jerkily. What do you mean she just wants to change her name? That is just the legal reminder that she is Muslim on paper. You know Mr Syed Hamid that what you answered was rhetoric, and you are lucky to get away with someone rather unfamiliar with most of her questions’ context in Sarah Montague.
If Lina Joy/Azlina Jailani had gone the smae way as Revathi, then think I guess she would have gone through the same “rehabilitation” process. Of course she soesn’t want that.
Now I wonder, what if each time some person professing a certain religion in Malaysia, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or a philosophical way of life a la Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism Bahai teachings etc…want to convert out of it, they are to be given a chance at “rehabilitation” by the religious authorities of his/her existing faith. That would be fair? No. I don’t think so either. Because that kind of a ruling undermines a very fundamental right; an individual’s right to profess and practice his/her religion is between him/her and God.
Now I have always admired the structure and beauty of Islam as a religion. But the way it is politicised and used as a tool for division by short-sighted and bigoted people is not only alarming, but hateful.
We in Malaysia could have (still could if ask me) served as a model nation for racial and religious harmony. I’m not talking tolerance, but harmony. More than a week ago, Bloghouse in Damansara hosted a group of religious figures from different faiths (Taoist monk, Buddhist monks, A Muslim cleric, Christian priest, Hindu priest, a Bahai preacher)to a session of prayers for the health of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was also there.
It was beautiful being part of that occasion where mutual respect and love was so evident. There is no talk of TOLERANCE…only respect and undertanding.
Tolerance, in the words of Nuraina Samad, smacks of tolerating, like…ok laa I wil let you do this or that…cos I can take it. She doesn’t tolerate, she EMBRACES her fellow Malaysians, whatever faith, race, colour…
That kind of coming together can happen on a national scale, if there is no fear-mongering among us the Malaysian public and if there are more people like Nuraina out there.