Posts Tagged ‘Hinduism’

Thaipusam, Street Demonstration and Peaceful Assembly Act

June 22nd, 2012
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MP Kubang Kerian YB Salahuddin (PAS) during a debate on the Public Assembly bill with Deputy Higher Education Minister YB Saifuddin (shown live on Astro Awani.  Caveat: I DID NOT watch it),  mentioned about Thaipusam (along with Maulidur Rasul festival) as example of procession or demonstrasi jalanan. He mentioned perarakan Thaipusam and also said “secara separa sedar” (semi conscious” and “walaupun ada Kavadi” (even though got Kavadis), and also tanpa perlu gas pemedih mata (without need of tear gas). The clip below extracted the part about Thaipusam statements.

These statements were picked up by YB Kamalanathan and blogged at his website:

http://pkamalanathan.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-letter-to-yb-kubang-kerian-with.html

 

 

I think saying that the participants are semi conscious is not appropriate and lacks sensitivity. In fact its a bad example as in our social climate, we can easily misunderstand and get angry. Most of the devotees walking along the chariot or at Batu Caves are perfectly conscious!  He should apologise for this wrong statement, possibly due to his ignorance. Next time invite him to join Thaipusam festival as observer to see how things are. Anyway, this coming from PAS is expected. They aren’t really into understanding all faiths.

The YB tried to justify and explain, but I think he should just apologise and move on:

“The point that I was making was not about religion.

“I was talking about Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. I highlighted Thaipusam to make a point about how Malaysians throughout the years, even before independence have gathered and organised themselves in large numbers.

“This was part of a list of other examples that I used to put my point across,” he said.

The Kubang Kerian MP stressed that he had no intention to insult the religious event which is a major Hindu celebration here.

Salahuddin, who met with Kamalanathan, to explain his comments on the matter said that to drive his point across, he used the examples of the gathering against the Malayan Union led by Onn Jaafar (1946), the Perarakan Kerandah 152 (2009) which demanded for the importance of the Malay language, Thaipusam and Maulidur Rasul celebrations to commemorate the prophet’s birthday.

“I did not mean to insult any religion. Why then did I bring up the example of Maulidur Rasul?” he asked.

Kamalanathan, who is the Hulu Selangor MP, took Salahuddin to task yesterday for his comments on Tuesday during a debate entitled “Street demonstrations: Does it build or destroy democracy?” organised by Malay daily, Sinar Harian.

Salahuddin reportedly said that thousands of Hindus gathered during Thaipusam peacefully without the intervention of the authorities.

The PAS leader was also alleged to have said that some Hindus carrying kavadi were semi-conscious and yet they do not need tear gas to keep the situation calm.

Calling Salahuddin “naive”, Kamanathan said his comments were both “insulting and hurting” to the Hindus.

“Belittling the practices of another religion and calling the devotees semi-conscious street demonstrators show lack of understanding and respect for the Hindu devotees,” he added.

‘Just stating facts’

Salahuddin, however, stressed that he was not insulting but merely stating facts about how the public could organise themselves.

“It was only to show that the public is capable of organising themselves. We have the devotees who are semi-conscious but still controllable,” he said.

“Then I also mentioned the large crowds that march during the Maulidur Rasul. You don’t need to use tear-gas to control the crowd.

“That is the point I was making that as long as excessive force is not used, the gatherings have always been peaceful,” he added.

Note: YB Kamalanathan forgot to mention about the Maulidur Rasul part on his blog. In spirit of 1Malaysia, he should also stand up for fellow Muslims and demand apology from the YB for insulting/desecrating/slighting/hurting their feelings.

 Now, the part about Thaipusam being street protest or street demonstration (demonstrasi jalanan).

Let’s look at the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (refer source pdf file at: http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my/outputaktap/20120209_736_BI_JW001759%20Act%20736%20(BI).pdf or http://www.parlimen.gov.my/files/billindex/pdf/2011/DR422011E.pdf

Under Para 3:

  • “assembly” means an intentional and temporary assembly of a number of persons in a public place, whether or not the assembly is at a particular place or moving;
  • “counter assembly” means an assembly organized to convey disagreement with the purpose for which another assembly is organized, and held at the same time, date and place or approximately at the same time, date and place as the other assembly;
  • “simultaneous assemblies” means two or more assemblies to be held at the same time, date and place, but which have no relationship to each other;
  • “participant” means a person intentionally or voluntarily present for the purpose of an assembly;
  • “street protest” means an open air assembly which begins with a meeting at a specified place and consists of walking in a mass march or rally for the purpose of objecting to or advancing a particular cause or causes;
  • “prohibited places” means— (a) the protected areas and protected places declared under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act 1959 [Act 298]; and (b) the places as may be specified in the First Schedule;

These are the locations specified in First Schedule:

  • Dams, reservoirs and water catchment areas
  • Water treatment plants
  • Electricity generating stations
  • Petrol stations
  • Hospitals
  • Fire stations
  • Airports
  • Railways
  • Land public transport terminals
  • Ports, canals, docks, wharves, piers, bridges and marinas
  • Places of worship
  • Kindergartens and schools

And this is the Third Schedule:

ASSEMBLIES FOR WHICH NOTIFICATION IS NOT REQUIRED

  • Religious assemblies
  • Funeral processions
  • Wedding receptions
  • Open houses during festivities
  • Family gatherings
  • Family day held by an employer for the benefit of his employees and their
  • families
  • General meetings of societies or associations

Para 11:  Consent of owner or occupier of place of assembly

11. The organizer of an assembly, other than a religious assembly or a funeral procession or an assembly held at a designated place of assembly, shall obtain the consent of the owner or occupier of the place of assembly for it to be used for the purpose of the assembly.

Reading the above extracts from the Act, some questions arise:

1. What is the difference between assembly and street protest? Street protests is defined to be an assembly that is “open air” and for purpose of a cause (for or against).  Assembly can be stationary or moving, while street protest involves marching (moving la..).  So, if its (i) indoor or (ii) assemble for no reason or (iii) assemble and don’t move, its assembly. Quite ridiculous. Even people want to assemble to lepak also got reason or cause – melepak.

2. Note the phrase “street protest”. If you take basically any event involving thousands of people, it will fall into the “street protest” category. The definition doesn’t mention that “not including religious activities”. Example, gathering of million youths at certain location, people marching during uniformed bodies activities, event parades, religious events, and yes, even funeral procession (you are support the cause of sending of the person on his last journey).

The only exemption given is that religious event or funeral need not provide notification to authorities. That’s all.  It doesn’t say its not street protest. Yes, common sense will tell you obviously a religious parade or funeral procession is not a protest. But this law doesn’t specifically state so? So does that mean a religious procession can be a street protest per the definition above?

3. Why is place of worship is prohibited? Does it mean we can’t “assemble” at Batu Caves  or the local shrine any more? Need to get approval? Sounds contradictory to the “no notification needed” clause.

Conclusion: If you don’t know what you are talking about, better don’t talk about it. Give other example that you really know of. If not, end up like this la.

Temple being demolished in Kepong

June 21st, 2012
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Yup, in KL which under federal government. And this pisses off Deputy FT Minister Dato Saravanan. Because now they (MIC) can’t say no temple demolished under BN since PM Najib took over. Yup, its that serious.

Yup. (Just wanted to make it three  “yup”s).

Interestingly, a directive was issued saying temple issues in FT was to be referred to Deputy Minister, but wonder why it was not adhered to this time. Looks like not only in PR-managed states have this problem.

And according to article below, the land has been gazetted to be used for non-Muslim religious purpose. So, what gives?

DEPUTY Federal Territories Ministry Datuk M. Saravanan was incensed by the demolition of the Maha Veppan Kaliamman temple in Kepong early yesterday morning.

Saravanan said he was made to “feel like a fool” negotiating with the group of government officers despite being in charge of non-Islamic religious land issues in the Federal Territory after a directive was sent out two years ago.

“The FT Land and Minerals Department went on with the demolition despite the directive that no temples should be demolished without prior discussion with me, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and FT Secretary-General Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib,” he said.

Taking control: Saravanan discussing the temple demolition issue with some of the devotees.

When he was informed about the demolition process that morning, he contacted the FT Land deparment director Hashim Ismail.

Saravanan said he had asked for the demolition process to be postponed until he could discuss the issue with Nong Chik but Hashim said he could not do anything.

Temple priest Periasamy Batumalai said 40 devotees tried to stop some 50 officers from DBKL and the police force from demolishing the temple.

Roads leading to the temple wereclosed off and devotees were barred from entering despite pleading with the officers.

According to the temple’s laywer Datin Anit Kaur Randhawa, the temple was not issued any order to vacate.

The officials used the notice from the Land and Minerals Department dated June 19, 2012 and the bulldozers moved in the very next day at 9am, barely 20 minutes after pasting the unsigned notice on the two gates of the temple.

“The DBKL officers and the police came at 8.30am and pasted the notice on the temple before proceeding to demolish it within 20 minutes. They only managed to tear down the fence surrounding the temple as the devotees formed a human barricade to halt the proceedings,” she said.

The demolition was later stopped by Saravanan who arrived at 10am.

The temple was initially located at the Jalan Kuching roundabout before moving to its current site in 2011.

The land in Kepong had been gazetted as religious land and set aside for non-Muslims.

“When I called Nong Chik, he said he was unaware of the demolition. I am surprised at the arrogance of the officers. They seemed to be in a rush to demolish the temple,” he said.

He added that the small plot of land was useful for the temple.

Anit Kaur said letters of support were sent to the Prime Minister’s Department on May 31 last year to apply for the land.

MIC Taman Fadason branch chairman K. Jayaraman said the demolition move was disrespectful.

Non-governmental body, the New Indian Welfare and Charity Malaysia, will donate RM2,000 to put up a barricade and secure the temple.

source: http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2012/6/21/central/11517229&sec=central

 

PM Najib visit to Batu Caves controversy a failure of religious leaders?

February 15th, 2012
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I  can’t believe this! Just few days ago, the Mufti of Perak said the following things:

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today expressed his dismay over the prime minister’s decision to “sacrifice his faith” to attend Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves recently.

 Harussani said even though he advised Datuk Seri Najib Razak every year not to join such events, the Barisan Nasional (BN) chief appeared not to place much importance on his faith or Islam.

It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Harussani added that the minister in charge of Islamic affairs or a religious advisor should have advised Najib not to attend the event held two days ago.

We cannot join in (on other religions’ celebrations). They perform religious rituals, and as Muslims, we cannot be present,” he said, adding that going to open houses was acceptable but not places of worship.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-sacrificed-his-faith-to-attend-thaipusam-do-says-perak-mufti/

Another article quoted the following:

The Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) has urged Muslims to stay away from non-Muslims religious festivals following the prime minister’s visit to Thaipusam celebrations last week.

 Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria had criticised Datuk Seri Najib Razak for “sacrificing his faith” by attending the Hindu festival at Batu Caves last Tuesday, the prime minister’s third visit in as many years.

PUM noted that guidelines set out by the National Fatwa Council on April 12, 2005 stated that Muslims cannot attend events which incorporate ceremonies that go against the teachings of Islam.

“Based on that decision, in PUM’s opinion, it is very clear that if the non-Muslim ceremony contains non-Muslim religious rituals, Muslims cannot participate as it can threaten their faith,” it said in a statement yesterday.

All religious authorities at state and federal levels should work to ensure that “correct advice” is given to political leaders and urged the latter to abide by such counsel, the association stressed.

PUM also called on the Islamic Religious Development Department of Malaysia (JAKIM) sponsor a dialogue session to explain the importance of this restriction to state and national leaders as well as Muslims.

It added that non-Muslims should understand and respect that faith was a core component of Islam and to be more sensitive to issues concerning the religion and its laws.

Najib’s visit to the annual Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves last week prompted Harussani to remind Najib that his predecessors had sent representatives in their place instead of showing up in person.

“It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” Harussani had told The Malaysian Insider.

The Perak mufti said that while it was acceptable for Muslims to go to open houses, they could not enter houses of worships where religious ceremonies were being carried out.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/stay-away-from-non-muslim-religious-events-ulamas-tell-muslims/

And today, he does an about turn saying this:

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presence at the recent Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves was not against Islamic doctrine, said Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria.

 He said this after Najib informed him what actually happened when he attended the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves, when the two met at the opening of a Pekan Umno-organised seminar on “Professionalism of Islamic Religious Speakers” by the prime minister, here, today.

What the prime minister did was to be at the hall to explain government policies, he was not involved in the religious procession and did not enter the cave temple,” Harussani said when met by reporters, here, today.
He said as a national leader, it was not wrong for Najib to be together with the other races in conjunction with a festival celebration.
“It’s okay if there is no intention of celebrating or endorsing the rites of other religions,” he said.
The Perak mufti was prior to this, quoted as saying that it was unIslamic for a Muslim to bless and join in a religious celebration in a temple.
On Najib wearing a kurta when witnessing the Batu Caves Thaipusam celebration, Harussani said it was only a traditional attire which was also worn by Muslims in India.
Instead, Harussani said, he was more disappointed with Pas’ action in Perak where during the Thaipusam celebration, they set up stalls and canopies and flew the Pas flag as though they were celebrating the occasion too.
— BERNAMA

source: http://www.nst.com.my/latest/pm-s-presence-at-thaipusam-celebration-not-unislamic-perak-mufti-1.47075?localLinksEnabled=false

That’s one hell of a turnaround indeed!

To make matters worse, not only the Perak Mufti is confused, so is the the others like “oxford trained people” below:

It is all right for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as a Muslim leader, to attend non-Muslim religious celebrations like Thaipusam if he follows established guidelines, said a former Perlis mufti.

As a (national) leader and administrator, attending (a non-Muslim religious celebration) to give advice is allowed, as long as he is not involved in the disciplines and rituals of another religion,” said Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

The Oxford University visiting lecturer said that Muslim leaders attending such events cannot display aspects of their dressing, or perform any act, that condones the rituals of another religion.

The only error was that the PM was involved in a ritual.

“That does not mean he is apostate. Maybe he was not given proper advice,” opined the former mufti.

Asri explained that the proscriptions of Muslims attending non-Muslim religious celebrations are not absolute and depend on the situation at hand.

For one, he said, that those involved in administration of the event and public order such the police, are allowed to attend.

Perlis mufti Juanda Jaya agreed, blaming the premier’s religious advisors for neglecting to advise him better.

“Guidelines about this matter are there. I am disappointed with the PM’s religious advisors. This will mar the PM’s image,” he lamented.

Last week, Najib attended the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves, decked out in a light yellow kurta (an Indian traditional outfit).

He was draped with a silk cloth and also donned the traditional Indian flower garland.

Najib’s actions had drew the ire of Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria, who slammed the leader and expressed disappointment, accusing Najib of cheapening the Muslim faith with his annual Thaipusam visits since becoming PM, despite advice to the contrary.

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/189173

pic from The Malaysian Insider.

Among the contentious issues where the attire he wore and the garland. It was said to be religious. Looks like the Mufti and his ilk need to attend some classes on religion and culture because they can’t seem to differentiate between the two. These kind of misinformed people can easily create havoc if not properly educated.  And I shudder to think that many Muslims are being influenced to be antagonistic towards other religions by these kind of misguided folks. So, everything would be viewed with a suspicious eye.

The attire is common in Indian sub-continent regardless of race. It may have even existed before these religions. Same goes for garlanding people. Its a culture to show respect towards the person. Its common to see in many events in India, like in schools, government functions, movie launches,  etc.

Temple and church weddings consist of religious rituals (as with many other religions). Does it mean that our Muslim friends cannot attend such functions? If that’s the case, what would the impression of Islam be on non-Muslims? Even our King attended Prince William’s wedding in a church. So how? These people rebuked him or not? Berani ke?

As explained by the PM below, those in power need to be careful with their words. Need to understand difference. I really wonder if these people have ever attended or mingled with Malaysians of other race/religion or not.

Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.

Najib cited as an example, his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him, has been questioned by some quarters because he wore the “kurta”, a traditional Indian attire for men.

But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012” at at his official residence Seri Perdana here Wednesday.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith. Thus, issues like this, if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareneness on a continuous basis.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/2/15/nation/20120215183404&sec=nation

So, its indeed scary that we, after half a century of independence, and with the power of Internet, still not able to understand our fellow Malaysians culture/religion. We are living in our cocoons, imagining that we are right. And worse still, we are in the position to influence others, which can lead to hatred and anger. Our social and education systems seemed to have failed, by producing such folks.

Guidelines for temples by MHS

January 13th, 2012
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Wonder how many of them will follow the “guideline” since its just a guideline. Is MHS going to come out with some compliance sticker or publish a list of compliant temples on its website? Would the community be interested in such compliance?

BTW, someone said got 20,000 thousand over temples, but MHS says got only 3,300.  We have 222 parliament constituencies. Can we find an average of 100 temples each parliamentary constituency?

All the Hindu temples in the country will have guidelines by the end of this month, Malaysian Hindu Sangam (MHS) president RS Mohan Shan said today.

He said the guidelines would comprise the suitable rules and regulations that a temple should practise in order to preserve the rituality.

“So far, there are no suitable guidelines for a temple to follow, and they are free to do all kinds of programmes at any time they wish.

“We are going to bring out the guidelines on how a temple should be positioned, which temple to conduct which celebration, and how to manage a temple,” he told Bernama.

The guidelines, among others, would encourage all the temples in the country to start providing community service, he said, adding that the management of temples should also think of the community, and not just religion and rituals.

“The guidelines will be prepared by a religious advisory board involving all Hindu association presidents and also religious experts,” he said.

So far, Mohan Shan said, only 2,000 of the 3,300 Hindu temples in the country have registered under the MHS.

“We are asking all our local council members to approach the temples to become members of the MHS as we are the only organisation that deals with temple issues,” he said.

Father of Hindu Youth passes away

October 27th, 2011
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My experience with HYO is way back nearly two decades ago, when I attended their computer class at Port Klang branch while waiting for SPM results. After that, I’ve seen them at some of the religious festivals at temples, but never been involved in their programs.

One of the founders of HYO passed away yesterday. Condolences to his family. Read about the late Mr Vijayaratnam here.

Malaysian Hindu Youth Organisation (HYO) founder, Vijayaratnam Saravanamuthu, passed away Wednesday at the Gleneagles Hospital here from respiratory complications.

He was 77.

Vijayaratnam, fondly referred to as the “Father of the Hindu Youth”, founded HYO in 1949 and had contributed immensely to its growth, which has some 90 branches nationwide now.

During his lifetime, Vijayaratnam had organised many Hindu Youth conventions in various parts of the country and he was elected the first secretary-general of the Malaysian Youth Council in 1962.

HYO in a statement said Vijayaratnam leaves behind a wife Pushpavathy Chinniah and two sons, Datuk Vijay Eswaran, 51, and Vijaya Vicknesh, 49.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/10/26/nation/20111026192456&sec=nation