Posts Tagged ‘Racial Integration’

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.

no circular on halal food in vernacular school canteens

November 26th, 2011
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On one hand, if you want to show respect to the rights of the Muslim students, then must provide halal food as per the Ministry guideline. But if you insist “only halal” food, then you are denying the rights of the other students. Being communities from religions that respect everyone, the best is to have a section of the canteen at the vernacular schools to cater for Muslim students and staff. There’s no problem with Tamil schools as they don’t serve pork nor beef based products.  So, good thing that there’s not such circulars from MOE curtailing the food types.

I wonder, how many schools cater for the non-Muslims students by offering the respective food cooked by own community – at least can also help the small operators. Wonder if the ministry has such guidelines.

The best is to offer a variety, as long as the students are aware and don’t mix utensils.

I still remember the char kuey teow in my school, prepared by the Chinese uncle. Delicious!

 

There is no directive from the Education Ministry that only halal food be sold at all Chinese and Tamil primary schools, said its Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said while under the ministry’s guidelines, canteen operators must provide halal food if there was a sufficient number of Muslim students in the school concerned, Chinese and Tamil school canteen operators could also offer non-halal food to their non-Muslim students.

“However, in practice, school canteen operators usually offer pork-free food,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby Wednesday.

Dr Wee was responding to a vernacular news report stating that a circular was recently issued by the Negri Sembilan Education Department to schools in the state that only halal food be sold by canteen operators.

Based on initial feedback, he said Negri Sembilan’s Education Director had confirmed that no such directive had been issued.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=%2F2011%2F11%2F23%2Fnation%2F20111123175642&sec=nation

Population imbalance worry

October 9th, 2009
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The PewForum report on Global Muslim population gave some interesting global statistics:

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.

While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, more than half of the 20 countries and territories1 in that region have populations that are approximately 95% Muslim or greater.

More than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world’s Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion. These minority Muslim populations are often quite large. India, for example, has the third-largest population of Muslims worldwide. China has more Muslims than Syria, while Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.

Of the total Muslim population, 10-13% are Shia Muslims and 87-90% are Sunni Muslims. Most Shias (between 68% and 80%) live in just four countries: Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.

My focus is on Malaysia. The map below indicates current Muslim population in Malaysia to be about 17 million or 60.4%. The report says the Malaysian Muslim population is about 16,581,000 which is 1.1% of world Muslim population.

world-distribution-weightedClick to enlarge

Most likely this figure will grow, and coupled with lower growth rate of other communities, will lead towards a bigger gap between the majority Muslim and minority non-Muslims in the country. As I worried earlier, population imbalance may lead to various problems. Our political situation at the moment is not actually helping to bridge the gap, while the policies for last half decade have only served to widen the gap between the communities.  The constitution, which guarantees the rights of the non-Muslims, is often subject to interpretration that seems lop-sided.  So, its may well remain words on paper only since the realisation of the constitution is at the hands of politicians and administrators, and the separation between government, judiciary, and legistation is not very clear.

Would a Minorities Act help in this case? A review of the constitution? A check and balance mechanism for all the policies? Population control seems far-fetched of course, at the moment, but may be needed in future.

On hindsight, would an evenly balanced population trigger more social unrest and threat to national security? A minority “Minority” will be easy to subjugate and control.

Is population imbalance a problem?

September 23rd, 2008
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That question had been in running in my mind for last two months. I remember reading in the newspaper where an MP (can’t recall who it was) said that something to the effect that we have to follow the majority. This is of course very much true. Currently in our country, the population can be categorised into four areas of importance – Race (Malays versus non-Malays), Religion (Muslims versus non-Muslims), Bumiputra Status (Bumi versus non-Bumi) and gender.

In terms of racial composition, we have many races (Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc) in this country, but the most critical one is Malays versus the rest. This ratio is important to maintain the national security and harmony, if we are to believe our politicians. The majority race is Malays, which is above 50% at the moment and rising steadily. The second largest group is the Chinese which is less than 30% and declining steadily. Same with the Indians which are at 7++% and declining as well. So, in the near future, we can expect the population to be imbalanced in terms of race with up to 70% Malays. With the inflow of Indonesians, the population of Malays are boosted through marriages.

In terms of religion, Islam being the religion for the majority race, automatically becomes the majority religion. Second in place is Christianity, followed by Buddhism, Hinduism and the rest. As the majority race experiences significant growth, we can expect the majority religion to also improve percentage-wise. Coupled with the capability of non-Muslims to be not aligned to any religion (in other words be a free thinker or atheist), we can expect the number of Muslims to significantly overwhelm the other religions in the near future.

In terms of Bumiputra composition, I remember reading a statement few months back that Bumiputra percentage is 62.1% while the non-Bumis are 30++%. Again, this tied closely to the majority race which are automatically accorded Bumiputra status. Then we have the ethnic races in Sabah and Sarawak who also Bumiputra. So, obviously the percentage of Bumiputra will be higher than the rest of the categorization.

Finally, population in terms of gender. So far, our population is nearly evenly balanced between male and female. However, the number of educated females are on the rise and it won’t be long before the white-collar workforce is overwhelmed with female workers. Due to the lack dwindling percentage in the above three categories, it is highly possible that marriages in the future will be inter-racial or inter-religion.

With more chances for the minority groups to convert to the majority – either via religious conversion or marriage (future generation can be of different race), the problem is compounded.

Now, where does this lead to? The possibilities are aplenty. A country that still sticks to its constitution and provides equality to all, or one that is in favor of the majority, and discriminative towards the minority.

Guided by the constitution, there will be protection for the minority races and religion. But with majority race in place, this can change if there’s consensus among them. As time goes, it may be economically unviable for example, to maintain many vernacular schools (EXAMPLE ONLY!). At that point of time, it is likely that a scheme like the NEP is created to ensure the minority races are not discriminated or deprived of opportunities.

Many areas will be affected in the next 20 – 30 years. Education, health care, places of worship, public service, tradition and culture, living neighborhoods, working environment, services industry, restaurants, our multiracial identity, public holidays, economic equity, gaming industry, etc.

I feel that with the way things are going, a imbalanced population will be more volatile and may even be a threat to national security. The voices of the minority can be easily drowned. Thus it may be the right time to implement a national population plan to boost the population of the minority races in order to preserve the status quo, or to implement population control (one child policy?) for the majority race (which is quite impossible due to religious factor).

Of course, things will be much, much easier if we don’t think along racial and religion lines. But that’s wishful thinking at the moment.

This is my thoughts, so I hope readers can share your opinions and thoughts as well.

Inter-race relations council

September 19th, 2008
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Samy Vellu proposes that an inter-race relations council is set up, consisting of various political parties and religious and cultural organisations.The council can discuss on issues concerning religion, language, culture and racial sensitivities.

The MIc also urges the authorities to arrest anyone who raises issues related to religion and race that can trigger racial problems.

The government must act fast on these people, party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu told reporters after chairing a meeting of the MIC’s central working committee today.

Does that mean Ahmad Ismail, Utusan columnist Zaini, and the “enemy” of MIC – Khir Toyo? 😉