The battle against ignorance

It is time for rational and right-thinking Malaysians to ask the Government about the fate of the much vaunted National Harmony Act.

THE recent protest over the display of a cross in a church in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, appears to be symptomatic of the growing intolerance and lack of religious harmony in Malaysia.

As a nation that prides itself in being a multi-racial and muti-religious country, we really seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot. We cannot afford to ignore such incidents, but sadly, the Taman Medan “cross” protest is not an isolated case.

There have been a number, and I could list them all here, but the “cow head” protest in 2009 had similar undertones.

Back then, the protestors were up in arms over the relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam.

In both these cases, the rationale for the protests (read: intimidation) was similar – residents living in the areas of concern were predominantly Muslim.

Have we become so intolerant that the sight of a building with a cross or the presence of a Hindu temple would “challenge Islam and influence the young”?

If we have, God help us all. The authorities can no longer ignore or choose to sweep such incidents under the carpet because Malaysians will not allow them to do so.

The widespread condemnation after the Taman Medan protest has now led police to open investigation papers.

To recap, on Sunday, about 50 protestors went to the church and asked its leaders to take the cross on the exterior of the building down. Fearful of the protest escalating into something more violent, the parishioners complied, but the pastor of the Community of Praise Petaling Jaya Church, Victoria Paul lodged a police report on Tuesday.

What action will be taken against the Taman Medan protestors? Typically in this country, we tend to overreact.

There have been calls for the Sedition Act to be used – in other words, throw the book at the protestors.

Even the Prime Minister has chimed in, saying that the Sedition Act can be used against this group.

Personally, while I disagree with the protest and support police investigations, I am against the use of the Sedition Act.

There have been other incidents where this Act could have been used but wasn’t and to me, using this particular law as a big stick against the Taman Medan protestors would open a Pandora’s Box.

Instead, I salute the call from the Sabah Council of Churches urging the police not to take action against the Taman Medan “cross” protestors.

The council has urged Putrajaya to foster interfaith understanding among Malaysians and fight the ignorance that sparks such protests. Finally, some voices of reason.

Instead of screaming blue murder, I think rational and right-thinking Malaysians should be asking the government about the fate of the much vaunted National Harmony Act.

by BRIAN MARTIN.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/On-Your-Side/Profile/Articles/2015/04/24/The-battle-against-ignorance/

Comments are closed.