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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Flag of Malaysia and United States of America

Here are images of the flag of Malaysia (recently referred to as Jalur Gemilang or "Stripes of Glory") and the flag of the United States of America:

Malaysia flag
Malaysia Flag


United States of America Flag
United States of America Flag


According to Wikipedia, there is no substantive connection to either flag. However, from the remarkable similarity between the two flags, it is highly likely that the Malaysia flag designed by Mohamad Hamzah of the Public Works Departmen was inspired by the flag of the United States of America.

There are similarities between the two countries in that both have large immigration population or decendents of immigrants, and both are federations of various states. The great difference is that USA stress on assimilation of immigrants and learning and using English while Malaysia allows each races to keep their culture and languages. Malaysia do make Malay (now called Bahasa Malaysia) the official language and Islam the official religion.

According to the original Malaysia Constitution, Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion, but because of the need to counter the oppositon party PAS (Pan Malaysian Islamic Party or Parti Islam SeMalaysia) which was pushing hard for Malaysia to become an Islamic country, the former Dr. Mahathir declared that Malaysia is already? an Islamic country because Malaysia has assimilated Muslim values in the Government administration, in the Banking system, etc.

There is great fear among the non-Muslim population of the creeping Islamisation of the country as demonstrated by the Lina Joy case, Revathi's case and many other cases. Look at these for example:
Candlelight vigil for Revathi (and for Malaysia)

Candlelight vigil for Revathi (and for Malaysia) Part 2

Unity threatened by continuing infringements of religious freedom booklet.

Families have been broken up because of religion and minor children converted to Islam without the consent of the non-Muslim spouse when the counterpart converted to Islam.

And look what some hardliners are saying and getting away with:
This is a Muslim country, leave Malaysia if you don't like it, says Jerai Member of Parliament.

Update 20 July 2007: The Deputy Prime Minister made a very disturbing announcement that despite what is written in the original Constitution, Malaysia has never been a secular state, but is an Islamic state. And according to Malaysiakini, the Internal Security Ministry has confirmed that they have given a directive to all mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state. And here is the "clincher": "However, he said newpapers can still publish statements from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak on the country being an Islamic state." very disturbed Malaysian

Note: free question mark graphic trying to express my exasperation at the things that goes on in our country with us pretty much being unable to do anything was taken from Free Emphasis Graphics, a link put here as appreciation to be allowed to use their graphic.

Update 21 July 2007: To balance the issues raised here, I will like to add that not all Malaysian Muslims share the view of our Deputy Prime Minister. Here is a courages Muslim blogger Haris Ibrahim who posted an interesting rebuttal to the Deputy Prime Minister statement. I will paste some extract from his article at Najib, bring forth your proof.

"Your late father, according to history, was part of the 1956 delegation that went to London to secure our independence.

Truly, this nation is indebted to your late father, the late Tunku and every freedom fighter of the era for securing independence for our nation.

And a secular Federal Constitution.

Yes, secular.

Have you not read the Reid Commission report, that document that bears testimony to the selfless work of our leaders of days gone by?

Tun Salleh Abas did, in extenso, in the case of Che Omar Che Soh. I have referred to this in an earlier post entitled ‘Historical and Constitutional Position of Islam Judicially Examined’.

Let me reproduce for you here the relevant excerpt from Tun Salleh’s judgment.

‘…we have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law, where morality not accepted by the law is not enjoying the status of law. Perhaps that argument should be addressed at other forums or at seminars and, perhaps, to politicians and Parliament. Until the law and the system is changed, we have no choice but to proceed as we are doing today.”

"Tunku said : ‘The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion’.

"‘Former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn has supported Tunku Abdul Rahman’s view that Malaysia should not be turned into an islamic state…”The nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the offical religion,” he said"

"As one who, like you, professes a belief in Islam, I must ask that you desist in these unfounded contentions.

As you also well know, God in the Holy Qur’an commands that when there is a dispute on an issue, it is proper to call in the evidence of the respective parties.

You say Islamic state.

I say secular.

I have produced my proof.

‘Have you any knowledge with you? If so, bring it forth’ - Surah 6 verse 148 of the Holy Qur’an

Please note that I have refrained from invoking the last part of the verse above. At this juncture, I shall assume you were merely mistaken.

I am obliged to say here that if you insist on continuing to make these assertions without bringing forth your proof, I shall invoke the curse of God as commanded in Surah 3 verse 61 of the Holy Qur’an"

Harris Ibrahim is indeed a brave Muslim blogger. I pray he will not get into any problems.

As usual, I will contact Harris Ibrahim if he has any objection to me putting excerpts of his post here, and will remove them if he object.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Unity Threatened by Continuing Infringements of Religious Freedom booklet

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has launched a booklet entitled "Unity Threatened by Continuing Infringements of Religious Freedom" to raise public awareness on religious rights. This was announced by its deputy president Datuk A. Vaithilingam. Vaithilingam also said the council had sent a memorandum to the government through the National Unity Advisory Panel in October 2005, calling for each individual's freedom of religion under the constitution to be protected.

"In the memorandum, we had set out all these problems and urged the government to take legislative reforms to alleviate these concerns. Until today, no such reforms have been made," he said. Because of this, and also to encourage debate so we can all jointly seek solutions to these problems that the council decided to produce the booklet, he added.

The public can get a copy of the booklet, which includes the memorandum, at the council's headquarters at the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields and from the council's member associations. He said the booklet will also be sent to all members of parliament.

Update 27 July 2007: Got alerted to what hopefully is some good news. This is an extract from KL judge: Syariah court not for cases involving non-Muslims:


KL judge: Syariah court not for cases involving non-Muslims
Landmark ruling a step forward in the Malaysian legal system, say lawyers

By Reme Ahmad July 27, 2007

MALAYSIA'S highest court has held that disputes between a Muslim and a non-Muslim on family and religious matters should be settled in a civil court.

The landmark ruling by Federal Court Judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad means that such cases involving non-Muslims cannot be channelled to the Islamic Syariah Courts anymore.

The judge said that because non-Muslims could not initiate action or submit themselves to the Syariah Courts, the civil court was the correct forum for them.

'They can't be present to defend themselves in the Syariah Courts,' the Federal Court judge said, in a ruling that comes against a backdrop of controversy due to the overlapping jurisdiction of civil and syariah law.




All about Malaysia

All about Malaysian Politics

Friday, June 22, 2007

Candlelight vigil for Ravathi (and for Malaysia) Report

I have previously made a post Candlelight Vigil for Revathi (and for Malaysia) for the purpose of alerting as many concerned Malaysians as possible to the candlelight vigil. As mentioned in my earlier post, posts like this are posts that I do not like to publish in this blog, but I am concerned about developments in Malaysia and will like to do my part and do whatever I can about it.

As promised, I did go for the vigil. It rained when I wanted to proceed, but the rain stopped after a while. So I took the candles, an umbrella and asked my son to send me to the LRT station, that was why I was late. On my way there, I saw 2 trucks, one Police truck and another one from Bandaraya (City Hall) with officers milling around them. When I finally reached the site for the vigil, the other participants were already there with their lighted candles. Here is a photo:

candlelight vigil for Revathi and for Malaysia

In addition to the participants with their candles, there were policemen, many photographers, a TV crew from Al Jazeera (English section). I was told there were TV crews from the local stations earlier as well, but I doubt what they filmed will ever get to our local TVs. The abbreviation MCCBCHST in the banner stand for "Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism". I asked about Islam, I was told they would like them to join but they don't want to.

The positive thing about this vigil is that the authorities allowed it to proceed. There is a law which says assembly of more than 3 persons (accuracy of number of persons not guaranteed) needs a police permit. I doubt the organisers applied for one, but unfortunately did not ask. The law is applied selectively, according to what criteria no one knows. When I told my son about my intention to attend, he said "smoke bombs, batons and water cannons you know?". That were what the police used to disperse the demonstrations against petrol price increase in front of the Petronas Twin Towers. I assured him that if there is any order to disperse, I will obey.

When it was nearly 9.00pm, a man went round to pass a message to disperse at 9.00pm. Many did left the candlelight vigil at 9.00pm but there were still some stragglers, including me. I finally left for home probably about 5 minutes after 9.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Candlelight vigil for Revathi (and for Malaysia)

I hate to publish a post like this on this blog, but I am a Malaysian citizen born and bred here, and expect to live the rest of my life here as well. However, like many citizens, I am concerned at recent developments in Malaysia, particularly the fact that some of our judges who have sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution, are not doing so in my and many others opinion. There is going to be a Candlelight vigil for Revathi (and for Malaysia)

Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Dataran Merdeka (at the flagpole)

and I as a concerned citizen intend to go, and hope others who happens to chance upon this post will do the same, and if unable to do so, at least leave a comment to lend your support and/or send the URL to your contacts. I shall now reset the blog to enable anonymous comments so that those who do not want to set up a Blogger account can do so, but I need to enable comment moderation to avoid comment spam and comments with languages less than desired.

I was alerted to this because I subscribe to Berita Malaysia and the actual announcement is at A candle for Revathi. Because I want to get the message to as many people as possible, I will post what I copied from Berita Malaysia of which some or all may be duplicate of the above post, and I shall write to the author of A candle for Revathi if he (or she) has any objection to this post. If there is any objection, this post or a part of it will be deleted.

A candle for Revathi
June 14th, 2007

Candlelight Vigil

There will be a peaceful candlelight vigil in support of Revathi, and many others like her, who are unable to fully exercise their Constitutionally- guaranteed freedom of faith.

The vigil is an initiative of civil society organisations including MCCBCHST (the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism) and various women's rights groups (All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Women's Centre for Change, Penang (WCC) and Women's Development Collective (WDC)).

Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: Dataran Merdeka (at the flagpole)

Show your support in affirming the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and its protection of our fundamental liberties, including the freedom of belief.

Bring candles, candle-holders and banners.

------------------------------------------------

Summary of Revathi's case:

Revathi, an ethnic Indian woman, has been held in a rehabilitation center run by Islamic authorities since January 2007 because she wants the State to acknowledge she is a Hindu and not a Muslim.

Revathi was born to Indian parents who had converted to Islam before her birth. She claims she was raised by her grandmother as a Hindu. She and Suresh were married according to Hindu rites in March 2004. Revathi was advised by the Malacca Islamic Religious Department to make an application at the Malacca Syariah High Court to confirm her status as a Hindu. She did as she was told.

However, the Syariah Court ordered her detained in a rehabilitation centre in Ulu Yam, Selangor under Melaka's Syariah criminal laws for 100 days. This detention was extended in Revathi's absence for a further 80 days supposedly because she had not "repented". In the meanwhile, Revathi's Muslim mother obtained a Syariah Court order granting her custody of Revathi and Suresh's 15 month old baby. That order was enforced on Suresh's Hindu family with the assistance of the police.

The family is now torn apart - with the mother in detention, the child with the grandparents and the father in limbo without his family.

Update 15 June, 3.10pm

Got a lightning quick response from Haris. He says: "no copyright issues", so this post will remain as it is. Plus I see Haris has started a campaign
Get to know your MP (Member of Parliment) and I have responded positively. Hope if you are also a concerned Malaysian citizen, you will do the same. Here is some explanation of what Haris is trying to do:
Know your MP (Member of Parliment): What and How

To participate in the get to know your MP, you will need to know your constituency. Got this link from Haris:

Suruhanjay Pilihan Raya Malaysia

All you need to do is to key in your Identity card number and withing seconds the site will tell you in which constituency you are registered in.