Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dangerously subtle.

“Islamization is overlooked, precisely because dominant Muslim authorities rely on a process of graduation and assimilation of isolated minority group. Fundamental liberties remained enshrined in the Federal Constitution but these liberties are subverted by coercive policies for various government departments that favour Islam over other religions. Rights of the minority communities are slowly but surely eroded over time. Federal Constitution may uphold freedom of religion but this freedom is constantly undermined by restrictive policies implemented by state controlled institutions.” -Dr. Ng Kam Weng, plenary speaker for the topic, Being Influencing Christians in a Predominantly Islamic Country at the FES National Conference ’05.

Few would have been able to notice the government’s subtle strategies in turning Malaysia into an Islamic nation, thus; allowing various religious agendas to seep into policies concerning education and the rights of the minority groups without notice. On the surface, this may seem like any ordinary religious struggle in a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society; yet, this is as much as a religious struggle as well as a political one, as much as majority is strength is concerned.

If the government continues to have its own way, ethnocides of the Orang Asli and the Sabah and Sarawak bumiputras through the conversion of religion among them will be the government’s most powerful weapon to gear its way towards nation-wide Islamization. The Federal Constitution defines one who speaks in the Malay language, practices Malay culture and a Muslim as“Malay”. One can easily observe that through time and assimilation of culture, many bumiputras or sons of the soil and the Orang Asli community speak a common language, which is the Malay language. What constitutes as “Malay culture” is vaguely described, leaving wide spaces for debates and various inclusions. That would leave one’s religious identity as the most significant predetermining factor to whether one is“Malay” or not. This is precisely where the danger begins.

Where majority is strength, the government would have more concrete reasons to impose Islamic laws to non- Muslims as well, threatening the harmony of a pluralistic society as of Malaysia’s- the best model one can get from living in a multi-ethnic society where one’s religious status is more often than not, defined by his racial identity.

While one has to commend the efforts of various Muslim organizations for their foresight and diligence in long-term Islamisation, in which clearly Malaysian Evangelical Christians are slacking behind, the same amount of credit cannot be given to them for their unruly ways of Islamising, that are tantamount to coercion and undue influence. The Federal Constitution clearly forbids the act of conversion through coercion, especially towards the bumiputras and the Orang Asli community; yet; clearly, the sovereignty of the Constitution has been repeatedly undermined. Malaysian Evangelical Christians find themselves having to play on unfair grounds and the first compromise that the Church makes in this aspect, would be their indifference and willingness towards it.

“Give us a quiet corner and do not bother us in our cozy corner, and we will not make any sounds”.

The similar situations surface in interfaith dialogues, especially between the Muslims and the Christians. With the recent move to promote the frequency interfaith dialogues, one can be sure that the intellectual battle between the Muslims and the Christians would be even hotter- which begs the question- Should Christians still engage in such debates given unfair grounds? Most of the interfaith dialogues are organized by Muslim organizations and not only would they have the luxury to choose their finest apologist, they would also have the same luxury to invite a clueless Christians speaker to be ‘sacrificed’ onstage. Time and time again, the Christians were flabbergasted by how unequipped their representative was and the Muslims were all-smiles. Interfaith dialogues, rather than an avenue to create awareness and understanding of one another’s religion; has become a showdown to ridicule Christianity as ‘unreasonable’ and ‘illogical’. We have our portion of blame to take, if we continue to be lackadaisal and ignorant of our own doctrines and belief; or if we are unwise enough to be willing to compromise the integrity of an interfaith dialogue by being willing to participate in an interfaith dialogue on unfair grounds.

“Give us a quiet corner and do not bother us in our cozy corner, and we will not make any sounds”.

Such precarious compromises we must not make. Such indifference we cannot afford to have. Once Malaysian evangelical Christians adopt an in-closet attitude in practicing our faith, we find that eventually, even that closet we are so comfortable in, would be taken away. Don’t blame the government for that, we ask for it- that would be too rude a wake-up call, and too late as well.


Blogger Jojo said...


Im gonna TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Muahahahaha...can u guess who =P

12:34 AM  
Blogger tehtarik said...'s MOJOJOJO!

I must call the Powerpuff hotline!


9:05 AM  
Anonymous honyau said...

Have you been to any interfaith dialogues such as those you mentioned? Do they have such events in your uni??

1:05 PM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

There is an interfaith dialogue in the pipeline organised by Pure Life society :)

Agora will be doing a minute-by-minute commentary on the face-off hehehe... if it happens

3:20 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Hey, Hon Yau
There is a soar in frequency of interfaith dialogues. Just today, there was one held at the civilisation dialogue centre in UM on gender and religion. I was told that the interfaith dialogue did not serve its purpose in creating understanding among religion but merely another circus field to ridicule christianity. However, I am thankful that the Chairperson of the dialogue, who is a Muslim; spoke against such biased grounds given to other religions and called for a more purposeful dialogue in the future. May his/her call be heeded.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous *christine* said...

Oh noOO MO JOJOJO was here before!

Wahahhaha LOL :D

hie hie yen nie! how u doing???
back to ipoh???

10:15 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Hey, Christine
Ipoh, Ipoh all the wayyyyyyy....away from MOJOJOJO!


10:22 AM  

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