Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Is Our Government Advocating Intolerance?

I am disturbed by today's news report in The Star which says that the Government supports International Islamic University (IIU)'s ruling to compel its non-Muslim students to wear the tudung. Minister in the PM's Dept Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili, who is in charge of national unity was quoted as saying:-

"In a multi-racial country, each community must respect one another. But at the same time we must respect the laws of the country, institutions and organisations to ensure there is no disturbance to the community..."

Excuse me?? I don't mean to offend my Muslim friends out there but when one says that each community must respect one another, does it not apply to ALL communities? Where is the respect (and tolerance) shown by the Muslim community in forcing the non-Muslims to wear the tudung which has often been said to be a cultural practice imported from the Arabs? What next? All female students must cover up their "aurat"? All male students must wear the songkok? All students of IIU must fast during the month of Ramadhan? I can go on and on.

Conversely, if universities in Western countries such as Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, etc imposed the "no head gear" rule on their campuses as a measure against racist attacks post 9-11, how would our Muslim students enrolled in these foreign universities react? Would they accept that they had to remove their tudung because they too "must respect the laws of the country, institutions and organisations" of these foreign lands if they wish to continue pursuing their education in these institutions? Do you think our Government would not make a huge fuss by branding such rules as "racist"? Already I can imagine a certain Minister screaming "racist...racist...racist Western universities..." maybe 41 times.

On another note, it has been a trend of late for certain BN parliamentarians to resort to unsavoury name-calling which could also be taken to border on racism since these labelling were made by Malay MPs specifically directed at non-Malays. For example, the latest is made by Jerai MP Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin calling Indians "keling" in Parliament yesterday. Then there was the recent incident of the same unrepentant MP calling the Opposition leader "Apek" and the infamous "damn stupid bloody old man"! Well, after 48 years of Merdeka, our BN Members of Parliament have not developed a civilised mentality in tandem with our first-class infrastructure. Guess they are perfect examples of what our Prime Minister likes to call "third-class" mentality citizens of Malaysia. Maybe they need to be sent back to school to learn "moral" lessons on basic manners and courtesy towards their fellow humankind.

Now that it is officially acknowledged that our Government sanctions actions by public institutions that infringe on the freedom of non-Muslims to dress as they please in a decent and respectful manner, I wonder what other surprises they will spring on the non-Muslim community next? Does our Government also sanction the actions of MPs mouthing racist and insulting words to the minority community in Parliament, our "august" house of democratic rights? Is this the beginning of a culture of rudeness and intolerance by the majority against the minority in our country under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi?

What an utter shame.On the one hand, we have a Minister to promote national unity, on the other hand, actions promoting disunity and racial intolerance are the order of the day. And actions always speak LOUDER than words. We have all got the MESSAGE loud and clear.

I wonder what fellow Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike feel about this issue?



Blogger johnleemk said...

Our government has always been about tyranny of the majority - and since the Malays and Muslims ARE the majority, that effectively means any rights we have are at their behest. The way some supporters of Malay privileges talk, it's as if they feel a genocide against non-Malays would be justified if the majority were up for it.

26/10/05 22:09  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

It is a worrying trend for us all if even BN component parties like MIC and MCA are keeping quiet.

26/10/05 22:32  
Blogger |dAia| said...

i don't really know why they still use that rule for non muslim to wear tudung,but i think its not suppose to happen.i'm sure they'll be a change in the future.and as for the name calling,'keling' is a short term for kalinga..a well developed indian race in india it's brought down from our ancestors and i'm sure its not meant to degrade or stir up racism.our grandparents used these terms to refer to their fellow friends and there were no controversial issues regarding the 'nicknames' that was there.and its not actually a bad word that means something else thats not good.its a specific term.well..thats my two cent.

3/11/05 23:59  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Thanks for your comments. My opinion is that if the word "keling" which refers to the Indians is offensive to the Indians, then we should all just show respect to them by not using the word even though to the non-Indians, it wasn't deemed a derogatory term. Being good neighbours (& fellow Malaysians) is to be sensitive to their sensitivities, right? Never mind that we may perceive them to be overly sensitive, that is really not the point at all.
And your views on the "tudung" issue reinforces my belief that most Muslims do not see the logic in forcing their cultural and religious practices on non-Muslims. Somehow, I feel that there are certain people in our country who seems to have forgotten that we are a democratic society of multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-racial people. That is what makes Malaysia so unique in this world, that we are able to live harmoniously side by side without infringing on the rights of each community. If we allow such "taliban-style" rules to surface and take root, we will also lose our unique identity and the respect of the world community as a moderate Muslim country.

5/11/05 18:00  

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