Religious polarization is most
serious under Abdullah as Prime Minister as compared to four former PMs
Media Conference (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
“PM: Religious festivals
unite all Malaysians” is the New Straits Times headline today
for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s statement yesterday at an Aidiladha
ceremony, where he said:
“Malaysia can pride itself in knowing that regardless of what religious
celebration it may be, its ethnic groups will come together as one to
honour the event.”
This was very true in the early decades of our nationhood, but it has
become less and less true as increasing religious polarization in the
country is undermining and even threatening national unity.
In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that religious polarization is most
serious in the past four years under Abdullah as Prime Minister as
compared to the four former Prime Ministers – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun
Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
It is most unfortunate that in recent years, there have been mounting
instances of disrespect and insensitivity of those in power and authority
for the rights and sensitivities of non-Muslim Malaysians.
The most serious example was the recent triple insensitivities during this
year’s Deepavali – the Festival of Light celebrated by Hindus.
Firstly, there was the insensitive and sacrilegious demolition of the
40-year-old Sri Maha Mariaman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Shah Alam
when Deepavali was just a week away.
This was followed by the disrespect and insensitivity when the UMNO
General Assembly was held on Deepavali – imagine the protest and outrage
if the MCA or MIC had held their general assemblies during the Hari Raya
But there was a third strike – when UMNO Deputy Youth Leader and the Prime
Minister’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin went on a rampage against the
Indian community at the UMNO General Assembly, telecast on RTM, blaming
the Indian news vendors for taking a national press holiday during
Deepavali and blacking Abdullah’s speech as UMNO President the next day.
The outrage by the Indian community at these triple disrespect and
insensitivities were a major cause for 30,000 Indians from all over the
country gathering in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 25 in support of the Hindraf
demonstration – not to create unrest but to send their cry of despair at
their marginalization to the government of the day!
Such insensitivity and disrespect could also be seen In Parliament, as in
the shocking incident where two UMNO MPs demanded the removal of the cross
and demolition of Christian statues in mission schools.
The Prime Minister must take urgent measures to arrest the worsening of
inter-religious relations in the country and halt the growing number of
incidents of disrespect and insensitivity felt by non-Muslim Malaysians
about their rights and religious practices by those in power and
I have just received this SMS on another incident, viz:
“HERALD the weekly paper of the Catholic Church facing problem in
renewing permit. Told not to have Bahasa section as condition for
approval. All these years they had four sections – languages. BM to reach
East Malaysians and youths educated in BM.”
The Prime Minister should immediately address these obstacles to greater
national unity, so that Malaysia can revert to the previous position where
religious polarization was a serious problem in nation-building so that
religious festivals can continue to be an occasion to unite all Malaysians
rather than divide them.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman