Saturday, November 10, 2012

Freedom of Religion : Nurul Izzah's Blunder (Part 1)

The Audacity

Nurul Izzah, vice-president and daughter of PKR party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, has come under fire and defended for her statements at a forum reported by alternative news portal Malaysiakini headlined, "Nurul: There should be no compulsion in choosing faith"

Now, let this be absolutely clear, as crystal as the opening lines by that widely acknowledged opposition leaning Malaysiakini report - "People should not be compelled to adopt a particular religion and this should also apply to Malays, says Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar."

Nurul Izzah's blunder, reasons for which I will explain, opened the floodgates for the main stream print media to make reports, critical of the MP for Lembah Pantai's stand.

And for that, the first term MP will be taking legal action against Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and a number of blogs for allegedly twisting her statement, reports another alternative news portal, The Malaysian Insider "Nurul Izzah submits transcript to JAIS, to proceed with suit"

On what grounds and basis the legal action is pursued will no doubt be anticipated for more than obvious reasons.

That said, Malaysiakini has seen fit to publish the "Transcript of Nurul Izzah's Q&A at forum" not once but three times. Here, here, and here.

A Cryptic message or glitch perhaps.

But seriously, I opine it as Malaysiakini saying they stand by their report.

Digressing, on the subject of standing by one's action, Malaysiakini is being probed for publishing a letter by Steve Oh entitled "Nurul's watershed idea for the nation" for alleged sedition. Malaysiakini also published a response by Mr Oh "I stand by my views, says letter writer". While it did not occur to me that the article could be considered seditious (obviously someone did), I did find the article racist and bigoted. I concluded thus and in hindsight should have published my views of that letter. I will, however say it here - it is racist and bigoted and therefore the author is a racist and a bigot. Despite anything Mr Oh wants to say of himself in his reply letter and also as Mr Oh says, I too am a nobody and freely under no protest whatsoever provide my email freddiedesouza@gmail.com (or thru my blog) to furnish my other contact details for him to sue me.

Coming back to Nurul Izzah, those loose lips at the forum was taken seriously enough to earn a a right royal rebuke from HRH the Sultan of Selangor.

Reality check

The problem with liberal thinking civil society represented by various NGOs, in general, and individuals, in particular, is their difficulty or their refusal to accept realities.

The difficulty or the refusal to accept the realities is more pronounced among the anti-government and pro-opposition supporters.

The reality is, the Malays are the dominant race in Malaysia. The reality is, the Malays are adherents of Islam, the official religion of the country.

When this realities, which are also undisputed facts, are accepted (or even if at the very least, considered), complexities when addressing contentious religious issues and discourse become less complicated.

Freedom of religion

To the thousands of opposition and anti-government supporters including the opposition leaning NGOs, for the subject a hand, who consider the United States the greatest democracy in the world, I will pose this question, is there true religious freedom in the land of free and brave?

I always say I cannot speak for other Christians.

I speak as a Catholic and also ask of my Catholic community the same question.

An important info first. Barack Obama has won the US presidential elections a comfortable margin in electoral votes but by a very slim margin in the popular vote.

Back to the question, Forbes has this article "The Audacity of Power: President Obama Vs. The Catholic Church" and I append the closing passages,
Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.

The fundamental question is whether the Catholic Church, and by extension, individual Americans have to engage in activities according to the rulings of this and future Presidents, or are we free to live our lives as we choose as long as we do not harm another. Are we free to engage in long standing religious practices that have never before been deemed unlawful, or has the federal government established a de facto state “religion” that it is prepared to enforce through the full coercive power of its financial resources and the imposition of financial penalties.

However, the Catholic Church can turn the tables on the President by taking Option A off the table with a humble statement of principal that in the matters of religious practices and conscience, there is a higher authority than government Who it chooses to obey. If President Obama prevails and unleashes the full force of the federal government against the Church, the cost will be the closing of Catholic schools, hospitals and the loss of social services that play a vital part in communities across the nation. Such a stand would make clear to the American people that the alternative to religious freedom would be a mortal wound to our civil liberties and a complete disruption of civil society.

I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty. By so doing, they, and the institution of the Catholic Church, will have my love and respect for the rest of my life.

To be continued

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Freddie,

This subject is actually a very delicate one. If someone threw this kind of question to you,or anybody, it would be difficult to answer.

Nurul Izzah did not say that there is no compulsion in Islam but it is written in our holy book.

I am not siding with Nurul Izzah view in this matter. A debate can be a good thing but as you know the media have different agenda other then about the truth.

In US, the debate and arguments as you cited in context of Catholics in US are more transparent minus too much twisting and spinning here and there.

Therefore, there can be an intelligent output to be deduced. Not like here where, there is just too much twisting and the main media are inclined to one side.

Utusan had been sued and lost a lot of times and their credibility is only limited to some groups of Malays. The stories that had been written, most of us just "don't buy it".

If I am with UMNO public relation, I would make sure news are written in such away to address the "dumb" voters as well as the "intelligent" one.

Maybe you should help those journalist how write intelligently.

Hashimoto

Freddie Kevin said...

Hashimoto,

"This subject is actually a very delicate one. If someone threw this kind of question to you,or anybody, it would be difficult to answer."

Events have proceeded this posting(Part 1) and is exactly the point I am going to make, albeit for an altogether different reason as the title suggests.

I will try to make the final part as concise as possible to deliver my import which may cover some of your comments.

'Utusan had been sued and lost a lot of times and their credibility is only limited to some groups of Malays. The stories that had been written, most of us just "don't buy it".'

Correct, main stream media, has been sued. If credibility is limited to some groups, there is a choice. In your words, in the case of the Utusan newspaper with pun intended "don't buy it".

To elaborate further, the main stream media can and has been sued. The same cannot be said of the alternative online media. There are just too many reports spun, twisted, deceitful and lied to take these media to court or the cost and consequences to do so.

The MSM is always in a lose-lose situation when it is taken to court. If it loses, the opposition will say "there you are, we are right", if it wins the same opposition will say "the judiciary is not independent and biased."

That said, I await Nurul's next legal course of action, as I said for reasons more than one.

As for your last comment, I care not to take your advice for it is an incredulous suggestion and rather mocking.

Thanks for the comment. It is always appreciated.

Regards
Freddie

Anonymous said...

Freddie,

No. I am not mocking you.

What I am trying to say here is that if the mass media want to spin, then do it intelligently.

If the objective is to win the heart of the people then journalist have to put forward argument that make sense.

The English newspaper do it more intelligently then Malay newspaper. What is that suppose to mean? All Malay are suppose to be dumb? That is why I am piss off about this.

What I am implying is that maybe you could advice these journalist when writing, the objective is to "win the heart of the people to UMNO" and not "to please their boses".

Hashimoto

Freddie Kevin said...

Hashimoto,

Your clearing the air, that there was no mock intended, is much appreciated.

"What I am trying to say here is that if the mass media want to spin, then do it intelligently."

That statement is unintelligent. A spin is a spin, done intelligently or not.

"If the objective is to win the heart of the people then journalist have to put forward argument that make sense."

This statement, standing on it's own, makes sense.

"The English newspaper do it more intelligently then Malay newspaper."

Read together thus, "What I am trying to say here is that if the mass media want to spin, then do it intelligently. The English newspaper do it more intelligently than Malay newspaper", as I mention above, makes no difference.

It therefore follows, your rhetorical "What is that suppose to mean? All Malay are suppose to be dumb?", does not arise.

You are are pissed off, more because the Malay newspaper argument did not fit or subscribe to your opinion in the issue, rather than what you contend.

"What I am implying is that maybe you could advice these journalist when writing, the objective is to "win the heart of the people to UMNO" and not "to please their bosses".

I cannot argue with that but in this case, it was definitely not "to please their boses".

Thank you for the comment.

Regards
Freddie

Anonymous said...

Freddie,

If you asks idiots to spin in newspaper, we would all know it in less then a minute of reading.

If you ask somebody intelligent (like all those people in CNN and TIME or Forbes) to spin, it would not be so obvious. Like in the case where you make a reference to in Forbes. Their journalist provide reference to the existing law (with respect to religion) in US and they provide reasonable arguments.

This is not happened in here in this country.

This subject, the freedom of religion requires references to existing legal system, the ministry in charge of Islamic welfare and the ulama who are proficient in Islam.

From these reference's , then we can argue and debate or spin or whatever.

Did the media do this, of course not?

Did the western media do this? From your refereces, yes. That is the difference between a civilised country and our country.

I will make a reference here from the media,

.what’s the punishment that can be imposed on Lembah Pantai?” Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamad Aziz had asked her in a supplementary question today.

“There are no such provisions for now, but it can be included under provisions on insulting Islam or causing Islam to be insulted,” Mashitah said during Question Time today.

“Anyone who orally or in written form mocks or causes Islam to be degraded, can be imposed with a penalty of not more than RM3,000 or jail of not more than two years, or both,” the deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs said."

Back to my comment,

As you see, there is no provision in law that limit the freedom of religion.

Nurul Izzah was not charged with anything.

This is not a simple matter.

We all know that there is a political dimension that need to be exploited but the media should not think that all the Malaysian are stupid.

Thank you for letting me comment on your website.

Best Regards

Hashimoto