What A Load Of Gibberish

Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah never fails to find himself in the limelight as a result of his statements. He reportedly said that Christians do not deserve big places of worship as they only make up 10% of Malaysia’s population 

Apparently he was perturbed by the size of the Calvary Convention Centre (CCC) in Bukit Jalil, as it is the largest church in Southeast Asia

It comes as no surprise that Dr Ridhuan Tee is popularly referred to as a ‘controversial columnist.’ Despite all the valuable education he has received (including a PhD in Politics and Government from Universiti Putra Malaysia), he continually succeeds in churning out gibberish

I fail to comprehend what Dr Ridhuan Tee’s problem is with mega churches. Article 11(3)(c) gives every religious group the right ‘to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law’

The construction and existence of mega churches in Malaysia are constitutional, provided everything is right in the eyes of the law

Furthermore, churches aren’t built using public funds. Most, if not all churches have building funds in which members have contributed/contribute money to.

Money from the building fund would then be utilised in the construction, purchase, and/or renovation of any land, building, or property. It would only seem logical that churches are allowed to spend their money as they see fit (provided it is done legally)

Ridhuan Tee went on to say that “Buddhists deserved bigger temples because they accounted for 20% of the population.” Well, instead of talking about it, why not urge the Government to set aside funds for the construction of more Buddhist temples?

In case Ridhuan Tee doesn’t realise, knowing what is right and doing what is right isnt the same. The latter requires initiative and effort while even a primary school kid would side with the former

On his point that “the comfortable conditions enjoyed by the non-Muslims here did not exist in neighbouring countries,” Ridhuan Tee has clearly not done his research about mega churches in Malaysia’s neighboring countries

Upon quick inspection, I came across the Messiah Cathedral in Indonesia which can house more than 4,500 people. Furthermore, City Harvest Church in Singapore has main hall with a capacity of 2,300 as well as 2 halls which can fit 250 people each

Isn’t it pretty evident that the comfortable conditions enjoyed by non-muslims in Malaysia does exist in neighboring countries? Unless of course Dr Ridhuan Tee decides to acknowledge that Indonesia and Singapore are not regarded as “neighboring countries”

If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It would end up joining the long list of things he said which doesn’t make any sense

A Good Example

Out of the blue, Sungai Air Tawar assemblyman Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik decided to table a motion to discuss hudud and its possible implementation in Selangor

What was more shocking was that Selangor Speaker, Hannah Yeoh decided to allow for the motion to be debated in the state legislative assembly

The Selangor Speaker set a good example by allowing hudud to be debated. After all, it is an issue which has been plaguing Malaysians.

Selangorians would definitely want to hear both sides of the political divide arguing their case

Many felt that the motion was to trap Pakatan Rakyat. If Hannah Yeoh were to disapprove of the motion, she would be labelled as anti-Islam, and afraid to deal with the sensitive issue

Despite being criticised for her decision to allow the motion to be debated, Hannah Yeoh stood firm on her principle of being a neutral and fair Speaker to all parties, and maintained her decision

When a motion was tabled to debate about hudud in Terengganu, the Speaker decided to not allow the matter to come to pass.  Barisan Nasional is capable of pushing for hudud in Terengganu as they form the state government by virtue of having the most seats in the state assembly

Isnt it ironic that UMNO decided to talk about hudud in Selangor when they discarded the very same issue in Terengganu?

Unfortunately, Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik decided to withdraw the motion in Selangor. This lead to the rakyat questioning the sincerity of UMNO regarding the issue

As Muslims believe hudud to be God’s law, it should not be manipulated for political gains. Such revolting acts only reflect poorly on spirituality of the perpetrator(s)

As if that wasnt enough, Selangor BN put the onus on PAS to push for hudud in Selangor. Talk about looking at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye but not paying attention to the plank in your eyes!

Moving on, it was reported today that 10 written questions submitted by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (ADUN for Kajang) was rejected by the Selangor state legislative assembly by virtue of exceeding the 40 word limit imposed on each question

Guess who was behind such a bold decision? If you guessed Hannah Yeoh, you are right!

Hannah Yeoh is doing a superb job as a Speaker and is setting a very good precedent for others in a similar position of authority. Her impartiality and strict obedience of the rules is nothing short of praiseworthy!

Ladies and gentlemen, in Hannah Yeoh we have a good example!

*Read it also at The Malaysian Insider and The Malay Mail Online

Enough Is Enough

Article 12(4) allows the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years to be decided by his/her parent. Together with the courts’ decision that unilateral conversions are legal, Zarinah’s case should be straightforward

However, in reality, it isn’t all that clear. Now that Zarinah is a major and wants to renounce Islam, she can’t do so without her father’s approval

Logically, as the person who converted his daughter, Zarinah’s father wouldn’t want her to leave Islam. Is it then fair that Zarinah needs her father’s consent to be officially and legally acknowledged as a Hindu?

It is a fait accompli that Islam considers it a major offence for Muslims to convert out of Islam. Despite that, it is important to note that Zarinah did not choose to embrace Islam. It was legally chosen for her by her father

Hence now that her father’s authority to select her religion on her behalf has ceased, shouldn’t she be allowed to make her own choice?

Furthermore, why does Zarinah need her father’s approval? She is already of age and mentally capable to choose for herself. It’s difficult to comprehend the logic behind such a requirement

Our ever popular Article 11(1) which guarantees the right of every person to practice & profess his/her religion is undoubtedly in favour of Zarinah who grew up taking part in Hindu rituals and practices

The authorities MUST now act swiftly to resolve the dilemma Zarinah is facing. Malaysia cannot risk being labelled an ‘irrational and oppressive country’

Enough is enough. Do something about it!

*This article is also featured on The Malaysian Insider

Time To Decide Once And For All

Under statute, Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) only has power over muslims. Theoretically it seems pretty clear cut but what happens when a certain scenario involves non-muslims?

Malaysians were dealt with another blow when JAIS allegedly trespassed into a Hindu temple “to stop a traditional wedding ceremony where the bride is apparently a Muslim.”

In protecting Islam & Muslims, does JAIS have the power to infringe on the rights of non-muslims? This is a question that needs urgent addressing.

The courts could make a landmark decision which would bury this issue once and for all, or the Selangor State Assembly could amend the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) 1988, to unambiguously define the scope of JAIS’ authority

One can argue about their rights under Article 11 (guaranteeing the freedom of religion) till the cows come home but in actual fact, the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) 1988 is not unconstitutional as per Article 11(4)

Although many critics pointed out correctly that JAIS seems to have trespassed onto a place of worship, many failed to notice that on top of that, JAIS disturbed a religious ceremony (i.e. the wedding)

Section 296 of the Penal Code makes it a criminal offence to voluntarily cause disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies. 

The aggrieved parties should report this matter to the authorities and allow them to investigate and take further action if necessary. Although JAIS may have been acting under a statutory duty, it seems as if they crossed the line when they interfered with the wedding 

Another question that needs clarification is regarding unilateral conversions. In the case of this bride, she was converted by her father when she was a child.

Although the courts ruled that unilateral conversions are legal, the decision seems to be in conflict with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. Unfortunately after so long, we are back to square one

In order to resolve this issue, the courts need to overrule their previous decision(s) or Parliament needs to amend the statute to reflect the same view as the courts

Maintaining the status quo is out of the question as it causes uncertainty as well as leaves the law open for manipulation by certain parties

* Read it also at The Malay Mail Online