Posts Tagged ‘Thaipusam’

Thaipusam, Street Demonstration and Peaceful Assembly Act

June 22nd, 2012
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to poobalan.com by Email


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.

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

February 15th, 2012
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to poobalan.com by Email


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.

Selangor State Govt Chinese New Year Dinner on Thaipusam Eve

February 2nd, 2012
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to poobalan.com by Email


This is being compared with last year’s Parliament sitting on Deepavali eve by MIC and MIC-friendly folks.

The Parliament sitting was cancelled by Cabinet after some noise were made by various groups (and DAP reps sent a memo), as it was considered a disrespectful and insensitive move.  Read about it below:

http://poobalan.com/blog/borninmalaysia/2011/10/11/parliament-sitting-on-deepavali-eve-issue/

http://poobalan.com/blog/borninmalaysia/2011/10/21/parliament-sitting-on-deepavali-eve-cancelled/

This time, its Selangor state government which is organising its Chinese New Year Dinner on 6th February (6pm till 11.30pm) at Rawang, which is on the eve of Thaipusam.  Refer here:

http://www.selangor.gov.my/main.php?Content=vertsectiondetails&VsItemID=423&VertSectionID=373&CurLocation=481&IID=

The difference between the two events are clear:

– one is an official “serious” event, the other is a official celebratory dinner.

– One involves all elected reps, govt staff and media, while other involves elected reps in Selangor and also includes public in addition.

– One is covering whole nation (imagine MP Bagan Serai balik kampung after parliament sitting) while the other is covering Selangor state. Probably the number of Hindus involved is very small (even the Selangor state EXCO don’t have Hindus).

– Deepavali eve is important as most Hindus will travel back to hometown. Thaipusam is not necessarily celebrated at hometown as some Hindus make pilgrimage to certain temples while other take opportunity to visit different temples for the celebration. Also, not all temples have chariot procession on the eve.

– Parliament sitting is usually arranged at beginning of the year. The dinner, was probably arranged few weeks ago.

– Deepavali came midweek, thus many other people will be working. Thaipusam this time around is on the end of a long weekend holiday (4 days if Saturday is off day), thus most people would have already made plans to travel elsewhere if they intend to celebrate Thaipusam.  The dinner may not be of consequence to them.

– Note that the last day of CNY would be on 6th February, thus the state could have organised the dinner on 23rd Jan, 24th Jan, 28th Jan, 29th Jan, or 4th Feb (maybe 4 is not lucky number?). 5th is Prophet’s birthday, so that’s definitely a no-no.  Those who are fasting (like for 10 or 30 days) would not be attending, so its likely that whichever day the dinner is organised, you’ll see lesser Hindus.

Similarities:

– both fall on the eve of a religious event.

– both are organised by governments.

– both are considered insensitive due to proximity to religious festival.

For me, even though the function is a non-compulsory “fun” event, the organisers could have chosen another day to do it, as perception of public is important. It would seem like the CNY dinner did not take into consideration participation of Hindus as majority Hindus are not expected to attend. Maybe its just targeted at the Chinese community.

Again, this maybe due to the lack of sensitivities among the officers in state government. Being from the majority race, probably they lack proper exposure to cultures and religious beliefs of others.  None may have thought of asking a fellow Hindu colleague/friend about the suitability of the date.

Looka like no holiday in Kedah for Thaipusam

September 6th, 2011
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to poobalan.com by Email


Its easy to promise, but not easy to deliver. Last time they never study how hard it is to get the leave approved, now telling must do more “evaluation” on this matter.  This is surely a black mark on the PR coalition for being unable to fulfill their promise.

On calls for Thaipusam to be made a public holiday in Kedah, Manikumar said the matter was still under consideration.

“We in the state government don’t have any objections but there are many rules and acts to be studied first.

“The thing is that the state holiday quota has been fully utilized and we need to amend the state constitution. Then we also need to get the consent of the Sultan of Kedah.

“At state government level we had a series of meetings on this issue but we also need to consider the opinion of the private sector, especially from the industrial sector as there are concerns on their productivity.

“So we are still evaluating many aspects on this,” explained Manikumar.

source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/09/06/weve-done-more-than-mic-and-bn/

Thaipusam videos from Youtube

January 31st, 2010
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to poobalan.com by Email


One from Penang while another is the chariot procession in KL.