Let Malaysian Christians and all patriotic Malaysians reaffirm on Christmas 2014 to provide greater support to policies and politics of inclusion where all Malaysians, regardless of politics, race, religion, gender or age can stand as one to promote tolerance, harmony and unity
I had hoped that the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals meant for Orang Asli parishioners to Catholic priest Father Cyril Mannayagam in Tangkok, Johore on December 18 would start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance of Malaysia as a plural nation to end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry which had recently hounded, haunted and disgraced Malaysia.
But this was not to be, and there had been no surcease or let-up in the rhetoric and politics of extremism, intolerance and bigotry, as evidenced by the ISMA demand that Muslims should not wish “Merry Christmas” to Christians, the warning that Christmas celebrations were only a ploy by the Christian community to proselytize among the Muslims, and the tearing up by a Perkasa protestor of a DAP banner wishing “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in front of the Perak DAP headquarters last Friday.
But Malaysian moderates of goodwill and reason must not despair by such setbacks but must persevere in their mission for harmony, tolerance and moderation in the country.
Let Malaysian Christians and all patriotic Malaysians reaffirm on Christmas 2014 to provide greater support to policies and politics of inclusion where all Malaysians, regardless of politics, race, religion, gender or age can stand as one to promote tolerance, harmony and unity.
I have a lot of differences with the Minister of Housing, Local Government and Urban Well-Being, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan but I commend him for standing up and telling ISMA to “butt out” with its claims that Muslims should not wish “Merry Christmas” to Christians.
The advocates for policies and politics of exclusion would not only forbid Muslims from wishing Christians “Merry Christmas”; they would want to ban shops from selling or promoting Christmas-related items; prohibit the display of any Christian, even for commercial purposes; regard the “Christmas tree” as a grave threat to Islam with the final objective to prohibit the celebration of Christmas altogether.
Malaysia must not go down this slippery slope of extremism, intolerance and bigotry which will be a betrayal of the founding principles of Malaya and Malaysia as well as the vision of the founding fathers of the nation, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Ismail, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V.T. Sambanthan in 1957 and the founding fathers of Malaysia from Sabah and Sarawak in 1963.
Malaysians must be united by an inclusive vision of tolerance, respect and acceptance of our diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures and not be divided by an exclusive vision separating Malaysians into their different racial, religious, linguistic and cultural compartments.
Malaysians must be self-confident, forward-looking and visionary to accept global challenges at a time of explosive changes when information travels at the speed of light 24/7, and not timorous souls, hidebound by reactionary and extremist ideas, and victim to imaginary fears, threats and enemies – such as the Christians want to turn Malaysia into a Christian Malaysia, Chinese in Malaysia out to grab political power of the Malays, or that the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharavic’s Old Town Ipoh mural of an old man sipping coffee completed half-a-year ago resembled Chin Peng when there was no resemblance whatsoever.
Only Malaysian moderates, regardless of politics, race, religion, gender or age, can save Malaysia from the extremism, intolerance and bigotry that the advocates of the policies and politics of exclusion have in store for the country.
A sober thought for all Christians and Malaysians on the eve of Christmas 2014.