Friday, January 06, 2006

Not such a good start to 2006

We are hardly a week into the new year and already I am not too optimistic about the direction Malaysia is taking in handling its internal affairs, specifically issues pertaining to national unity.

First off is the cold water poured on the local media with the Internal Security Ministry issuing two show-cause letters to the China Press demanding an explanation to its report and erroneous identification of the victim of the ear-squat incident as a Chinese national. As a result of this and possibly because of the threat posed to the popular vernacular newspaper under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, its two top editors have since had their posts redesignated. Mr Chong Choong Nam, the editor-in-chief is now the personal assistant to the Nanyang group chairman while Mr Ng Siew Peng the executive editor-in-chief is now special projects manager.

This is a very strong message being sent out by our government underlining its intolerance towards journalists and editors who wish to exercise unbridled press freedom in this country without being mindful of the ruling party's sensitivities. I guess our newsmen can look forward to a pretty unexciting year, now that they have been nicely cowed into towing the official and acceptable line of responsible reporting in this country.

Issue number 2 that has got me upset is the bulldozing by Penang developer Motif Era Sdn Bhd on SJK(C) Sin Chung right in front of the teachers and pupils who had their lessons rudely interrupted yesterday morning only to witness with their own eyes the subsequent demolition of their school canteen and toilet. And this shameful incident happened in our Prime Minister's constituency.

Sheer decency, compassion and moral priorities for the good of our society have been abandoned in the interests of economic gains of the individual and corporate entity. In dismissing the school's application to stop the demolition, the Butterworth sessions court judge had inadvertently encouraged the ugly mindset of ruthless greed and selfishness overriding actions which could ultimately benefit society as a whole. The actions of those who have contributed to the destruction of a school for our kids is downright ugly. And all this ugliness is displayed for the whole country to see in the mere pursuit of a few quick ringgit.

This third ugly incident involved yet another demolition exercise on Wednesday, as reported in The Sun today. If not for the fact that this act reminded me of the Taliban government, it would have been laughable.

Consider this. It took a full force of 300 men from the police, General Operations Force, fire and rescue department, water board, TNB, Jasin district council and PWD officials to pull down a Chinese temple and destroy a 20m-long reclining Buddha statue located inside a privately-owned orchard. And these guys had to sneak in at dawn with 4 bulldozers and backhoes and 20 lorries, before taking 5 hours to complete the ugly job.

I'm sad because it shows that in this country you are not allowed to exercise religious freedom to carry out acts to fulfil your religious vows in your own private space and enclosure, even though you may be doing it without causing any obstruction or untoward inconvenience to your neighbours and the public.

Remember Ayah Pin? Can you identify what these two incidents have in common? No, its not the one where the whole government machinery came out in full force to show that they mean business and that they have the means to do their business.

These three separate incidents brought to my mind the lyrics to the current popular song on air, CRAZY by Simple Plan:-

Is everybody going crazy?
Is anybody going to save me?
Can anybody tell me what's going on, tell me what's going on,
If you open your eyes, you'll see something is wrong ...

Yes, I am wondering what is wrong with our society, our people and the way our lives are being governed by the ruling party. The above events does not augur well for all of us peaceful and civilised folks here in Malaysia, and coming so soon after the Moorthy case and the Islamic Family Law uproar, I am feeling troubled. And for this, I am giving the thumbs down to our Prime Minister and his concept of Islam Hadhari. I do not see how his version of the religion has done us any good at all. The actions we have seen thus far speak for themselves.



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