In his 1Malaysia blog, Dato Najib wrote a Christmas message:
"Let us count our blessings and strive to be a blessing to those around us. Keep alive the Malaysian spirit of visiting one another and bear in mind the teachings to respect one another.More in NST report here.
"Let us look forward with hope and confidence, and be assured that all have a rightful place in the future of this beautiful nation of ours. I wish all of you a merry and meaningful Christmas."
Same as last year, but this time from a man of the cloth, the message of Christmas and common desire for peace and joy by all religion was lost.
May God bless the man. Let us pray so that he be guided by his faith.
Najib celebrated Christmas Day with Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, the man who instigated the name of Allah into a political issue in his Christmas Day last year, at the national level Christmas Open House in Esplanade.
As The Star reported here, repeat the same call for peace and harmony."
There was peace and joy tone from Guan Eng as The Star reported he "praised the open house event, stating that it proved that the relationship between the state and Federal Government is in a mature and healthy state.""We do have our differences such as our concept of god in Islam is different compared to that of Christianity," said Najib on Wednesday."If we choose to continue to debate on our differences, it will weaken the relationship of both Islam and Christian."
Borneo Post reported here a lone Canadian tourist enjoyed the occasion."We hope that all the citizen, regardless of race and religion can cultivate a sense of collaboration and friendship as well as a respect for each other," said Lim in his speech.
“It was delightful to see how people in Malaysia shared the celebration in a harmonious environment…I never feel alone here,” he said.
Unfortunately, the occasion was marred by a combative outgoing head of the Catholic Church and re-assigned as Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.
The Archbishop lambasted Najib as reported by The Malaysian Insider's here as "not a man who was educated in our Catholic school" and "just a bickering politician". He refered to Najib's speech at the recent UMNO general assembly.
His response to Najib's call for truce was to drive a harder bargain by demanding Najib in "withdrawing Putrajaya’s legal challenge against the Catholic Church’s use of 'Allah."
His Christmas criticism went unabated as he said, "He knows the law. He knows the judgment the judges gave and he (Najib) is saying: 'Oh, it's allowed there (Sabah and Sarawak), but be careful in peninsula. Don't stir this up. You are playing with fire."
Archbishop Pakiam's reaction had invited criticism from ISMA as "rude and insulting" to Najib. [Read in Malaysiakini here.] While, Dato Zaid Ibrahim asked for stronger anti-conversion and proselytisation law in exchange for use of the word Allah. [Read in The Malay Mail here.]
[Note: A commentator gave link to defying reaction from editor of The Herald, Father Lawrence Edward]
Somehow or rather he believe he has to speak with clinched hands raised and voice heard in that strange tone and shrill.
He seemed to think he need to speak in the same mode as when he was Ketua Pemuda UMNO delivering a speech on the podium at Stadium TPCA in Kampong Baru before Ops Lalang in 1986.
It explains why burning words like "Don't stir this up. You are playing with fire" spurt out of his mouth. As party President and already Prime Minister, he does not need to resort to that manner of speech to get his message across.
Who started it?
If Archbishop Pakiam is angry and demand that Najib call back Putrajaya's legal actions, the same can be asked of him.
Why did he get himself into a tussle with the authority on The Herald's use of the word Allah in their Bahasa Malaysia edition in 2008 and took it to court?
When he won in 2009, the authority would naturally appeal because the High Court judgement of a single judge was perceived as "bias" and did not took account major issues of law raised by the Ministry.
The judgement undermine their authority to call it as they deemed fit. It had legal implication to government machinery to exercise their authority.
While the issue was still in court waiting for the appeal, Archbishop Pakiam used international pressure to demand Home Ministry withdrew their appeal and defy process of justice.
He continued his contemptuous act against the court to elevate the issue by instigating East Malaysian Christians as though there had been infringement on the 18/20 points raised by Sarawak and Sabah, respectively in the negotiations for the formation of Malaysia agreed and documented in the constitution. [Read the background in The Malay Mail report here]
Unlike the Sabahan and Sarawakian, most Malayan are not conversant in the history of the formation of Malaysia. Ipoh-born Archbishop Pakiam may be no different.
The pre-Malaysia Inter-Governmental Committee had agreed that religious practises in Sabah and Sarawak will remain as per before the formation of Malaysia.
The status of Islam was raised by various groups in the discussions and negotiations for formation of Malaysia. The IGC agreed to the article 3 and 11 of the Malayan Constitution in spirit and it's exceptions on the status of Islam as a religion of the Federation (upon realising that there is no infringement on the freedom to practise other religion [Note: Not official religion as repeatedly and intentionally wrongly used by the now evengelical Christian controlled DAP.]
As advised by several Sabah and Sarawak sources, the state enactments are in concurrent with Najib's stance that it is allowed in Sabah and Sarawak but not in Peninsula. Now, question should be raised of Archbishop Pakiam's intention for the practise to be allowed in Peninsula.
And Archbishop Pakiam probably knew that part of the pre-independence "social contract" for Persekutuan Tanah Melayu or the English word, Malaya. involves the Malay sovereign granting citizenship to non-Malay on the conditions, in which one was that the status of Islam as the religion of the land and faith of the Muslim be safeguarded.
It is unbecoming of super-liberal Zaid Ibrahim to think of such a fair solution to Muslims, however the arrangement have long been in place. There is room for conversion but it has to go through the proper process.
Peace and harmony
Archbishop Pakiam knows well that it is wrong and against the spirit of the constitution to preach to Muslims. It is stated under 11(4) of the Federal Constitution which most left winger chose to discuss freedom of religion within the sub-clauses 11(1) and 11(2).
In article 3 of the Constitution, it is mentioned and court of appeal had interpreted accordingly that other existing religions can be practised in peace and harmony. The only religion mentioned specifically in the Constitution and for other religion to be in peace and harmony with is Islam.
Sentiments against use of Allah by Christians is strong and UMCEDEL found 77% of Malays are against it's use by Sabah and Sarawak Christians. [Read in Malaysia Chronicle here].
Sadly, it is not an act of peace and harmony to be stubborn and combative in their personal opinion and refuse to consider the feeling of others. Indeed, the existing arrangement is already fair. Action by either party for more will likely bring about an equal and opposite reaction by the other party.
While Archbishop Pakiam believe it is acceptable to use name of a Muslim God, some churches in the United States are against it's use on the ground that Allah used by Muslims are not based on trinity.
There is nothing definitive there. True that some Arab Muslims clerics like Sheikh Yusof Qardawi had allegedly said it is acceptable for Christians to use the word Allah.
Others view it is on a different context than the situation in Malaysia. There are Christian converted Muslim clerics In Indonesia calling upon Malaysia not to allow use of Allah by churches.
In an act to show-off and not realising the fardhu kifayah responsibility to preserve the faith of the masses, smart alec Khairy can claim whatever he wish [read in The Star here], however Allah is the name of God.
Christians in Sabah and Sarawak uses Indonesian bible which was intentionally mistranslated Allah as God and not name of God. Based on that, the onus is on the Christian authority to be sincere in correcting it to tuhan so as to not allow the wrongful translation be continued.
However, one can only pray that they be steered on the correct path. Let us pray for the Christian to stop celebrating Christmas on December 25 and celebrating St Valentine Day because it commemorate with pagan Roman rituals and celebrations.
One can go on to discuss that Jesus was not crucifixed but to each their own religion.
The same with the various interpretationot nothing to do with justice and approached to the practise of Islam remains their own, though seemingly deviant, but should be kept private and be sensitive and respectful of the masses.
When there are sensitivity and respect for the masses within the right context, there will be mutual sensitivity and respect in return for the minorities.
Our problem in Malaysia is that issues of faith have been made into legal issues. The nature of law and court is that it is hostile and adverserial. It is not about justice but using whatever it takes to win, otherwise lose.
The issue of faith is seldom politicise to the hilt and invade into the realm of government and nation building.
Issues relating to faith is a matter of belief, thus it is neither for judges to decide based on evidences and point of laws nor politicians in their fiery and populist ways. As mentioned in this blog's June 2007 posting here, religion and interfaith issues should be left to the man of cloth.
Lets return society's problem back to society for resolution.
Let the conversant man of cloths sit together to resolve it. They are all good people. I hope the men and women of religion resolve it amicably and consistent with each other's faith. There should be a way and a way must be found.Read also Karen Armstrong promotes silence, non-violence and compassion.
Love thy neighbour
Some of us may not know what had motivated the Vatican's ambassador to Malaysia, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino to apologise for expressing support to the Christian Federation of Churches' argument for the use of Allah by Christians throughout Malaysia.
As told by a source, his Excellency was motivated by a higher christian covenant than the pursuit of the kalimah Allah which is to love thy neighbour. His Excellency may have realised that things were peaceful and harmonius if not for someone from his church had rocked the ship on a voyage of peace and prosperity.
The definition of god may be different but one of the most common value preached in all religions of the world is to love thy neighbour.
Some religous zealot among Muslims may see it as heretic to wish a belated Merry Christmas for reason it is a religious celebration. For sake of inter-communal peace and harmony, the fatwa council of Malaysia allowed:
Preserving peace and harmony is also important to our Islamic religious authorities. It is in the spirit of love thy neighbour which Islam also promote.
If all parties are sensitive, respectful and accomodative for the others, there will be peace and joy to the world.
Belated Merry Christmas to all Christians.