Monday, August 06, 2007

PM Abdullah Allows Hostile Muslim Extremists Dictate & Limit Free Speech; Excuse - they jeopardizes national security; His New twist on “non-secular"

PM Abdullah Allows Hostile extremists Dictate Freedom to Discuss; Stern Warning Excuse- Extremists jeopardizes national security; His new twist to “non-secular “ State

ABOVE: Courtesy from Jeffooi

First it was the cancellation of “An evening with Raja Petra” and now the postponement of the venue for “Religious Forum on Water” from the National Mosque to NUBE Building as reported in Malaysiakini H E R E . This forum is in response to the United Nations' General Comment No. 15. The event will raise awareness among Malaysians to conserve water and respect and protect the human rights to water as a key responsibility.

The cancellation & postponement is obvious for "security" reason and the denial of police permit. The bloggers took heed of the advice and the meeting “has been canceled due to advice from the security agency that it may not be wise to continue with the event” And this is now confirmed by none other than the PM of Malaysia when he lambasted the organizers on abusing freedom as “it could lead to undesired developments by inviting extremists who could jeopardise national security” (see below report) and from the horses mouth in the Video Clip.

Now who are these so called “extremists”? Are they not the same ones (see pics of them below) who disrupted the “Article 11 Forum” in Johor Bahru on 22nd July 2006? Why no action was taken against them? We can see the same pattern and is used effectively to disrupt such meetings on the grounds they perceive as “threats to meddling with Islam”. Intimidation and threats like this Muslim mob is condoned by Malaysian police against non-Muslims who seek to exercise their constitutional right to speak. And it “allows hostile segments of the Muslim community to use free speech to dictate the limits of free speech.” (see bottom article). Things have not changed from a year ago – the same “stern warning” is again issued by the PM and the same perceived fears on national security threats.

We must organize our reality according to our strength and not to our fears. Actually, there is nothing within you to fear. All consciousness has within it the deep abiding impetus to use its abilities fully, to expand its capacities, to venture joy­fully beyond the seeming barriers of its own experience. The very consciousnesses within the smallest molecules cry out against any ideas of limitation. They yearn toward new forms and experiences. Even atoms, then, constantly seek to join in new organizations of structure and meaning. They do this "instinctively." Man has been endowed, and has endowed himself, with a conscious mind to direct the nature, shape and form of his creations. All deep aspirations and unconscious motivations, all unspoken drives, rise up for the approval or disapproval of the conscious mind, and await its direction.

Only when it abdicates its functions does it allow itself to become swayed by "negative fearful" experience. Only when it refuses responsibility does it finally find itself at the seeming mercy of events over which it appears to have no control

= = == = == = = = == another twist from PM abdullah
Malaysia Not A Secular Or Theocratic State, Says Abdullah
August 04, 2007 21:31 PM

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Aug 4 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today emphasised that Malaysia is not a secular nor a theocratic state but a country that practises parliamentary democracy. He said the government in this country practised elements of government that reflected the composition of its population which was made up of various races and religion.

"We are not a secular state. We are also not a theocratic state like Iran and Pakistan which PAS wants us to be, but we are a government that is based on parliamentary democracy," he told reporters after launching a programme with the people at the Tuanku Bainun Teaching Institute, here. He said the existing government was a responsible one whether to the people or country and administered together by leaders from all races and religions under the Barisan Nasional coalition. "We (the government) consist of leaders from the various religions -- Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity -- and everyone is involved in discussions to reach a consensus on national development policies," he said. The Prime Minister said the formula adopted had been proven to be capable of driving the country towards development for the past 50 which has been tested for the past 50 years and has already succeeded today," he said. Abdullah said he failed to see how such a government could not continue to progress in future, that is up to its 100th independence anniversary.
= == = == ===
August 04, 2007 18:33 PM
Abdullah Warns People Against Abusing Freedom Of Expression

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Aug 4 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today issued a stern warning against those who exploit the freedom of expression and abuse it to cause unrest. He said if the freedom was abused, it could lead to undesired developments by inviting extremists who could jeopardise national security and the government would not tolerate any form of violence. "I have given much freedom and everyone can express their opinion, they can talk about many things but they should be wise in handling the freedom... if this is not appreciated, everything (freedom) will be lost," he said when launching the People-Friendly Programme in conjunction with the 50th Merdeka anniversary organised by the State Umno Liaison Body.

If this freedom was lost, it would take a very long time to repair the damage done, he said. The Prime Minister said many quarters, especially the mass media, frequently pointed out that he had given much freedom to the people to express their opinion. He said, however, the government was always careful and governed the country with wisdom to avoid any undesired developments. He said the government had never marginalised any minority group or religion whether in the peninsula or in Sabah and Sarawak. Abdullah said the Malaysian government was unique as it had representatives from the various races and religions. He said that the government's success in giving priority to solidarity had resulted in Malaysians sometimes forgetting their racial and religious differences and sat on a common platform feeling very safe and confident.

"We give attention to every group and implement what is best... (we) don't marginalise any group and this is our practice... our country is multi-ethnic and there is religious diversity... this is a unique practice and an ideal government," he said. Citing an example, he said if the government did not give priority to the views of all the groups, then (MIC president) Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu would always lose (in expressing his opinion) but the government always considered the views of all races.

Abdullah said the country's leadership was the outcome of a consensus of all races and the wishes of every ethnic group and that was why the country continued to enjoy peace and prosperity. He said the country was enjoying peace and prosperity because the people had made the right decision in continuing to vote for the Barisan Nasional ever since the coalition was known as the Alliance. He said besides the people's support, the BN government also had a long-term plan to develop the country to fulfil the goal of national independence. He said BN was the heir to the country's independence fighters who had wanted the country to continue to progress and to be free of imperialists. "We don't want to be merely a developed nation by 2020 but we want to continue to develop the country to achieve excellence, glory and distinction," Abdullah added.

= = = =Watch video Clips (two combined 1m 45s) - PM Abdullah on the Secular State and the Warning on Abuse of Freedom + Insert Bakti Gala Dinner at Sunway Lagoon Theme Park

= = == = == = = ==

== = == = == == = == =

Stand up; speak up
Saturday, 04 August 2007
Senior Cabinet Minister Bernard Dompok
must be complimented for his conviction and commitment to truth. In a rare show of courage - not common among the ranks of Cabinet Ministers to speak up when a gag order is in place - Dompok has chosen to remain true to his conscience by speaking up to remind absent-minded ministers of the terms under which Sabah and Sarawak became part of the enlarged entity that exists today as Malaysia. He is absolutely correct in stating that "Malaysia was not meant to
be an Islamic state"
when the Malaysia Agreement was signed way back in
1963, i.e. 44 years ago. This was crystal clear otherwise the people of these two
states would not have supported the referendum to join Malaysia. The Malaysia Agreement indeed re-affirmed the nature and character of the nation that came into being in 1957 following the social contract that gave birth to the Federal Constitution. It was also absolutely clear then that this nation was not meant to be an Islamic state.

The Deputy Prime Minister cannot ignore the facts of history and existing historical documents and judicial pronouncements to claim that ours is an Islamic state. The founding fathers who negotiated the social contract and the people of this country who were present then knew exactly what was agreed upon. Malaya came into being on terms mutually negotiated and agreed upon by the founding fathers, which were determined to forge a nation based on mutual respect for our differences, trust and a common destiny. It was this arrangement that has somewhat preserved our unity thus far. Any
deviation from this sacred arrangement is bound to have repercussions that would
disrupt our harmony and unity.

Najib was only a kid then - barely four years old. He could not have understood what transpired then nor appreciate what pledges were undertaken solemnly in the common struggle for nationhood. The Prime Minister, who was old enough then, would appreciate the process that made it possible to proclaim this nation as a sovereign state and a common abode for all its citizens. He should ask his classmates as to what they understood Malaya was meant to be when we attained our independence. He should ask those people from that generation to solemnly state whether it was even remotely suggested that Malaya was meant to be an Islamic state.
We are very concerned that our national unity is still very fragile and under threat - even after nearly 50 years of independence. We are disturbed when politicians bent on testing their popularity go overboard in touching on issues that are sensitive and without basis.
All concerned citizens must speak up and stand up for the things that we believe in. We must make a concerted effort to sideline the minority vocal extremists who are hell-bent on disturbing our peace and destroying the harmony that bind us as a people and as a nation. The vast majority of us who are moderate, tolerant, broad-minded, peace-loving and responsible citizens must take a strong stand against those who are threatening
our democratic way of life
by denying our rights and freedom and destroying the institutions that represent the rule of law. We hope that more and more concerned and conscientious citizens will be part of this effort to defend what is right and just.

P Ramakrishnan; President, Aliran

= == = = = == == = Background on history of the Article 11 Forums

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Article 11: Stop the forums

Article 11 forums to discuss inter-faith issues must stop immediately because they are deemed to cause tension in our multi-religious society, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. The Prime Minister said the Umno supreme council had expressed its utmost concern over inter-faith issues that were being debated by Article 11, an umbrella body of 13 non-governmental organisations, through forums on Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. “If the discussions are not kept in check or contained, they are bound to raise tension in our multi-religious society. Religious issues are even more sensitive than ethnic issues,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here yesterday.

Abdullah, who is the party president, said the Government had made the decision to urge all parties concerned to end discussions on the formation of the inter-faith commission (IFC). “If possible such discussions should not be carried out at all.

It has passed the stage where it is worrying all of us. The Government will monitor the situation and developments,” said Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister.On the Article 11 forum to discuss constitutional protection for all Malaysians which was held in Johor last Saturday, he said: “Those who continue with the activities are those who want the interfaith commission (IFC) to be formed. “The Government has made the decision to put a stop to the discussions on the IFC. Why must they hold more such activities?” He also called on the media to carry out its responsibility not to stir up anger and tension among the masses. On May 14, an Article 11 forum was jointly organised with Aliran in Penang following the concerns raised by the cases of Nyonya Tahir, M. Moorthy and S. Shamala where conversion to Islam by one party led to difficulties for their non-Muslim family members. The group had also held similar forums in Petaling Jaya, Malacca and Johor.

= = == = =
Malaysia Islamists protest religious-freedom forum"
(Reuters, July 22, 2006)

ABOVE & BELOW: in Johore Bahru, Jul 22 2006. "hostile segments of the Muslim community to use free speech to dictate the limits of free speech".

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - A Malaysian forum on freedom of religion drew an angry protest by Muslims on Saturday, revealing a sharp divide in this mainly Muslim nation over the issue of renouncing Islam. Malaysia's constitution enshrines freedom of religion but Muslims cannot officially renounce Islam. Those who convert to another faith can be jailed by a local Islamic court.

ABOVE & BELOW: "hostile segments of the Muslim community to use free speech to dictate the limits of free speech"

About 300 protesters, including members of opposition Islamist party PAS, rallied in the southern city of Johor Baru, local news Web site Malaysiakini said. Surrounded by riot police, they gathered outside a hotel where a group known as Article 11, named after the constitutional provision on freedom of religion, held the latest in a series of forums on the issue, Malaysiakini said.

ABOVE & BELOW: "hostile segments of the Muslim community to use free speech to dictate the limits of free speech"
"Cancel it! Cancel it! Allahu akhbar! (God is great)," protesters chanted. "Down with the infidels! Don't meddle with Islam!" The forum went ahead, Malaysiakini said, but in May a similar forum had been disrupted in the northwest state of Penang after a noisy protest by Islamists. Malaysia is a relatively modern and relaxed Muslim country but its treatment of those who have given up the Muslim faith has ignited a heated debate. Malaysia is a secular state and about 40 percent of its population is non-Muslim.
Non-Muslims were enraged when a Hindu woman failed in January in the civil High Court to have her dead husband's body released to her for cremation.

The court said it had no jurisdiction, noting that a Sharia court had deemed the dead man to be Muslim, and he was buried against his widow's wishes by state Islamic officials.

= == = == = =
Aug 4, 2006
In Malaysia, 'too sensitive' for debate
By Ioannis Gatsiounis

KUALA LUMPUR - At a time when rage and intolerance are eating away at the Islamic world, Malaysia has stood out as a source of hope. Its Muslims have co-existed peacefully with the 40% non-Muslim population. There has been no major incident of violence committed in the name of Islam on Malaysian soil. It's no wonder Muslim and Western leaders hold Malaysia in high esteem. Next month their hat-tipping is set to continue, when Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi delivers a keynote address at the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Finland. The European Union wants Abdullah to share his thoughts on Malaysia's success in the areas of race relations and inter-faith issues.
If the past is any indication, Abdullah will claim tolerance and unity as enduring traits of the Malaysian people. He will swear by Islam Hadhari (Civilizational Islam), a political and ideological interpretation of the faith that stresses moderation and technological and economic competitiveness.
But back home a very different reality is unfolding on Abdullah's watch, one that raises questions about his commitment to Islam Hadhari and may have far-reaching implications for this "model Islamic democracy".
Hardline Muslims have grown more vocal in recent months, demonstrating at forums held by a coalition of non-governmental organizations, known as Article 11, that wants the government to put its weight behind the Malaysian constitution, which guarantees equality and freedom of worship, as the supreme law of the land. Article 11 is concerned that sharia (Islamic law) courts have recently taken primacy over civil courts in a number of controversial decisions. The hardliners are also opposed to efforts to establish an Inter-Faith Commission to enhance understanding among Malaysia's various faiths.
The latest protest came on July 22 in the state of Johor Bahru. As Article 11 gathered in an upper-floor hotel ballroom, some 300 Muslims scowled from behind a police line at the hotel entrance, brandishing signs that read, "Don't touch Muslim sensitivities," "Destroy anti-Muslims," and "We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for Islam." In May hardliners threatening to storm an Article 11 venue succeeded in bringing the forum to an abrupt end.

And now Abdullah has seen enough - not from the hardliners, though, as one might expect, but from Article 11. "Do not force the government to take action," he warned the coalition. He accused Article 11 of playing up religious issues and threatening to shatter Malaysia's fragile social balance by highlighting "sensitive" issues. (It is an article of faith in Malaysia that "sensitive" issues should not be discussed openly.)
And yet it is these same issues - race, religion and the affirmative-action program benefiting the majority Malays - that are dearest to most Malaysians' hearts that are discussed passionately, albeit behind closed doors, within one's own racial community. Abdullah has issued a stern warning to the media to stop reporting on issues related to religious matters. And he has not ruled out using the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, against Article 11 members should they continue with their activities. Abdullah's position appears to be rooted in the kind of irresolute behavior that has characterized a number of his decisions since he came to power three years ago. For instance, he declared an all-out war on graft that has fizzled because, many suspect, he fears confronting the old guard in his ruling party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

But it also follows another worrying trend of the Badawi era, and that is to give Islam a peculiar prominence in Malaysia's political and social landscape. Malaysia's Muslim-dominated leadership has long given Islam priority in Malaysia. The constitution recognizes Islam as Malaysia's official religion. It is illegal to debate the affirmative-action program benefiting the majority ethnic group, the Malays (who by law are born into Islam).
Abdullah's predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, labeled Malaysia "an Islamic state". And all of Malaysia's five prime ministers have promoted Islamic values in one form or another. The Badawi era, however, has witnessed a growing number of politicians, religious administrators, authorities and activists making their own rules, their own pronouncements and judgments on things that are beyond their purview.

Last year an angry mob attacked a commune run by a Malay apostate. Muslim moral police have more aggressively targeted Malays for "deviant" behavior, going so far in some states as to try to establish "snoop squads". And sharia courts are said to be over-stepping their bounds in making rulings involving non-Muslims.
Abdullah has been less than resolute in handling Malaysia's creeping fundamentalism, which is not to suggest the former Islamic scholar is promoting an intolerant strain of Islam. To be fair, Malaysia is a tricky place to govern. It requires deftly balancing the needs of the majority Muslim Malays with those of the Indian and Chinese minorities to prevent social unrest. And yet Abdullah knows that maintaining political control will require first and foremost placating the Malays.
But by caving in to hardline sensitivities over inter-faith dialogue and the supremacy of the constitution, Abdullah, inadvertently or otherwise, appears to be going beyond merely accommodating the Malay community to the point of empowering its fringes. And the dangers this may engender should not be underestimated - this being an era in which a growing number of Muslims around the world are resorting to intolerance to advance their causes and feeling inspired by the results (violent protests against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed is but one example).

Abdullah's stance against Article 11 could be read as in keeping with Mahathir's belief that greater freedom of expression will stoke inter-ethnic tensions. But Abdullah's position is less encompassing. It is a lopsidedly selective application: it is to allow hostile segments of the Muslim community to use free speech to dictate the limits of free speech. This double standard was on full display two weeks ago, when Abdullah's powerful son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin rallied members of UMNO in a protest outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Traffic stalled as the angry mob chanted, "Destroy Israel, down with Israel," and burned Israeli and US flags. Racial and religious sensitivities run deep in Malaysia, and all of Malaysia's communities have inherited legitimate grievances over the years. But those sensitivities may be catching up with the country. Experts note that the Malays, Indians and Chinese have been drifting apart.
A recent survey found that the majority of Malaysians do not trust one another and seek refuge in their own ethnic community - contradicting Malaysia's elaborately crafted outward display as a paradise of multiculturalism. Abdullah will no doubt tear a page from that book when he travels to Europe for the ASEM meeting, while back home a new chapter is being written.

Ioannis Gatsiounis, a New York native, has worked as a freelance foreign correspondent and previously co-hosted a weekly political/cultural radio call-in show in the US.


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