PM Najib Razak should be proud of himself that in his 1Malaysia, we have recently witnessed this: the burning of 3 churches in Selangor!
He tells us not to blame UMNO, but how does he know that no UMNO member was involved in this attack.
Was he around at the churches’ vicinity during the bombing? Or did he have a dream? Wasn’t he too fast to rally behind the attackers so soon?
The churches had suffered losses and damages amounting to millions. But Christians always believe that every cloud has a silver lining, behind every misery, is a blessing.
And so, what RM2-3 million losses is nothing if this incident contributes to a change of government come next election.
Read also SUARAM’s statement below/inside:Stop Unacceptable Religious Violence Immediately!
SUARAM strongly condemns the attack on three churches – the Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur, and the Assumption Church and the Life Chapel in Petaling Jaya – early this morning, widely believed to be linked to the ongoing controversy over the use of the word “Allah” – a word which some claim to be an exclusive right of Muslims – following the High Court’s ruling which allowed the Catholic publication Herald to use the word in its publications.
SUARAM urges that all parties immediately refrain from all forms of violence in reaction to the ongoing controversy.
SUARAM also questions the police’s ineffectiveness in dealing with such violence when they have often stopped candle light vigils and peaceful protests with lightning speed. SUARAM urges the police to act immediately, stressing that Malaysia has ample laws to deal with such violence and destruction of property without having to resort to repressive laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Police Act and the Sedition Act.
So Much for 1Malaysia
Shocking as it may seem, these incidents were indeed only waiting to happen, as heightened intolerance pertaining to matters of race and religion has thus far been tolerated and in some cases even perpetuated by the government.
Last year, in August, we witnessed the cow-head protest, which was initially tolerated by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. Only after a public outcry did the authorities apprehend those involved in the protest.
In August 2008, we witnessed a mob of protestors led by several Malay- and Islamic-based political parties and NGOs forcibly halted a public forum on religious conversions organised by the Malaysian Bar Council. In this controversy, Najib Razak who was then the Deputy Prime Minister criticised the Bar Council for being “stubborn” in going ahead with the forum.
In some of the most blatant examples of religious intolerance, there have been involvement of some leaders of political parties both from the ruling BN as well as the opposition Pakatan Rakyat. And these have been largely tolerated.
In all the incidents, no serious attempts have been made by the government to ensure that the matters are adequately addressed through civilised dialogues.
When the “Allah” controversy surfaced with numerous threats of protests and violence, the Prime Minister could only respond by saying that the government cannot stop people from protesting. So much for Najib’s 1Malaysia…
So Much for National Security
These latest incidents once again prove that “national security” cannot be guaranteed by merely threatening actions using repressive laws, such as the ISA, the Police Act and the Sedition Act. Invoking such laws does not adequately address the matter at hand, especially those pertaining to religious intolerance. The government’s decision to charge the cow-head protestors, for example, clearly did not deter further similar, and even worse, actions as was seen early today.
In an immediate response to the incident today, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has already warned that the government would not hesitate to use all means necessary, including the ISA. SUARAM condemns the Home Minister for continuously relying on such repressive and archaic laws which clearly misses the point and proven ineffective in dealing with the current controversy relating to religious intolerance.
To adequately address the current controversy as well as the worsening racial and religious relations in the country, SUARAM urgently demands for:
1. All forms of violence be stopped immediately!
All parties must immediately refrain from further violence. We would like to remind that no religion condones such forms of violence.
2. A strong stand against such violence
All political parties, civil society organisations and religious movements and organisations must now take a firm position against acts of violence. Leaders of these organisations and movements must ensure that its members and followers refrain from any form of violence which will surely worsen the situation.
3. Dialogue to resolve the “Allah” controversy
The government must immediately initiate interfaith dialogues to resolve the matter pertaining to the “Allah” controversy.
4. A full and independent inquiry into these cases
A Royal Commission must be set up immediately by the government to investigate into the latest incidents and to ensure that the full truth is uncovered. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) must also immediately hold its own inquiry into the matter in accordance with its mandate and powers.
5. Legislative and institutional reforms
The government must legislate an Act which would outlaw all forms of violence, discrimination and other acts of intolerance done in the name of race and religion. A permanent independent commission must also be set up immediately to prevent the further deterioration of racial and religious intolerance and the escalation of violence.