Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Herald Publising License Debacle

Religion in Malaysia has always been a thorny issue. Being a Christian is hard due to the perceived fact that the faith is a competing factor for the hearts and minds of other religious which is a fallacy. It is even more so here in Malaysia when the Muslim majority populace is always in the fear of any apparent threat to the faith. Already there are issues of the difficulty in obtaining a building permit to construct churches and I don't mean the shop lot variety that many denominations are forced to worship in, I mean large churches where people can congregate and pray, the issue of printing a Kadazan language Bible for the native converts in Sabah and a Malay version for other indigenous practitioners, attempts at ending Bible Study paper for SPM, to a minister's nonsensical rambling on the corrupting influences of hidden crosses in locally made cookies and crucifixes in plain sight in missionary styled schools. Now there is a problem with the internal security ministry planning not to renew the Herald, a Christian publication for the faithful, mostly on happenings in the Dioceses throughout Malaysia. The bone of contention was the Bahasa Malaysia (or Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Kebangsaan or whatever) section which used the word Allah.

I think that by implying that with the use of Allah in a non-Muslim publication would sway people to switch religions is belittling the Muslim faithful. People don't convert overnight over such idiosyncrasies. Though I'm no angel of a Christian I think that the act by the ISM is overhanded and wrong. A mufti once told me that Allah was submission to God and that no matter who you prayed to, your act of submission was to God and hence to Allah. At that time I was pissed off because this was during a public university orientation and it was attacking people's faith but I let it slide and have faith that the audience are mature enough with whatever faith they are to brush it off. Faith is a personal thing I always surmise.

Removing the BM section would deprive many of the locals in Sabah and Sarawak who can't read English, of news in the Christian community. Even with blitzkrieg Islamisation efforts in the Borneo states, the majority of people there are still Christians. The government has always claimed that they are out to look out for the rights of the indigenous population who have always responded by handing the BN coalition the bulk of their 2/3 majority in each election, so why this move? It seems like an insidious use of the Printing Act to control the populace and never more apparent than now. If the government is serious about freedom of the press and freedom of religion, they should act accordingly and rethink their requirements of scrapping the national language.

1 comment:

praveen said...

I totally agree with you on that Kervin. The mere use to the phrase "Allah" in Biblical contexts would not result in one to sway instantly from one religion to another. I certainly do wonder when people are gonna gain some sense..