Monday, October 24, 2011

Playing a high-risk high-stakes political game?

PAS: Umno used Himpun to revive unity talks

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

October 24, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR — PAS today accused Umno of using last weekend’s Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun) as a platform to revive failed unity talks between both parties, using “unfounded” threats of Christianisation as a basis for inter-party co-operation.

Selangor PAS deputy commissioner Khalid Samad told The Malaysian Insider that Himpun’s organisers had tried to portray Islam as being “under siege” just so that PAS members would attend and support the event together with Umno.

“Although Umno has stated that they have nothing to do with the gathering, I think it’s obvious when you have affiliated groups like Perkasa claiming the event unified PAS and Umno.

“It’s yet another attempt in pushing for unity talks between both PAS-Umno... you play the religion card with PAS, you try to pit us against non-Muslims, to make us look extremist... they (Umno) are trying again,” said Khalid.

Malay rights group Perkasa lauded the success of Himpun, saying it unified Muslims even from opposing political factions with the presence of leaders including PAS’s Datuk Dr Hasan Ali.

PAS has said it did not support the gathering, but did not stop its members from attending the event as individuals.

“I think those tied to Umno are making a mountain out of a molehill, just because one PAS leader attended the event it does not mean PAS and Umno are now together in arms.

“Why stoke religious tension? There is no concrete proof of Christianisation threats. We’d best use our time and effort to improving other things in this country — fighting corruption, governance,” said the Shah Alam MP.

Himpun was organised by various right-wing religious groups who called for Muslims to rise up and fight the “challenge of Christianisation”.

The mass rally was mooted following the controversial August 3 raid by Selangor Islamic authorities on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC), where it was alleged that Christians were converting Muslims.

It is illegal to proselytise Muslims in Malaysia.

Christian leaders have denied claims that Christians were attempting to convert Muslims and have called Himpun’s fight “irrelevant”.

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi said that public support for Himpun over the weekend showed that it was time for the government to enact and enforce Islamic laws in the country.

He said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government should at least “recognise” and “support” Kelantan’s efforts to establish hudud.

“I believe the time is right for Umno to state their preparation to enact Islamic laws because it is part of the demands made by Umno NGOs who supported the Himpunan Sejuta Umat.”

Are pieces of the puzzle now slowly fitting together to reveal the hidden agenda behind recent controversial events?
Are the minority Christians being made the bogeyman in a high-risk high-stakes political game orchestrated by the party in power to split PAS and Pakatan Rakyat?
Are lies published by 'respectable' newspapers controlled by certain political parties so that Muslims can be pitted against Christians? Like Selangor PAS deputy commissioner Khalid Samad said: "You play the religion card with PAS, you try to pit us against non-Muslims, to make us look extremist... they (Umno) are trying again.”

Is there no regard for the truth in the pursuit of political power? Will the name of God be used in vain by politicians for their own selfish ends?

Friday, October 14, 2011

DUMC raid: Sultan's statement welcomed

Now that there has been some kind of amicable solution to the issue of the raid carried out by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, it is hoped that everybody - especially the politicians - will realise that such issues are highly inflammatory in a multi-racial nation like Malaysia.

On Wednesday, the Damansara Utama Methodist Church welcomed the statement by the Sultan of Selangor that no one would be charged in connection with the search by JAIS officers at the church two months ago, The Star reported.

Senior pastor Dr Daniel Ho stressed that activities organised by DUMC were meant to serve the community and welfare of Malaysians regardless of race, creed or religion.

“We sincerely ask that all religious communities and places of worship be treated with the utmost respect and not be intruded upon,” he said.

Dr Ho said the church had worked within the boundaries of law and public order.

“We call on all Malaysians to continue to live in peace, tolerance and harmony. We also call on all Christians to continue to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God,” he said.

JAIS carried out the search during a function, organised by non-governmental organisation Harapan Komuniti, at the Dream Centre Complex belonging to DUMC on Aug 3 following a tip-off about an alleged attempt to proselytise Muslims at the dinner.

On Monday, the Sultan had ruled that JAIS' raid on DUMC was legitimate.

But Sultan Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said that although JAIS had found evidence of attempts to subvert Muslims, it was “insufficient” for further legal action, the Malaysian Insider reported.

The state ruler said therefore no one would be prosecuted, and JAIS will provide counselling to the Muslims who were present in the church during the raid.

“JAIS has submitted to Us the full report of the search carried out at the Dream Centre Complex, Section 13, Petaling Jaya as well as the subsequent actions taken by JAIS. We have thoroughly read in detail the said report and we are satisfied that the actions of JAIS were correct and did not breach any laws enforceable in Selangor,” said a statement from the Selangor Sultan.

JAIS has said that it “inspected” the evangelical church after acting on a complaint that participants at the dinner were trying to convert the 12 Muslims present at the function to Christianity. Proselytising Muslims is against the law in Malaysia.

The raid on the church was the second blatant confrontration by the authorities with Christians, who are a minority community in Muslim Malaysia.

The first was the accusation in May that pastors were teaming up with DAP to install a Christian as Prime Minister and have Christianity as the state religion instead of Islam. This episode was blown out of proportion by Utusan Malaysia, a Malay newspaper with links to Umno. And the accusation was later proven to be a lie.

Two other Umno-linked newspapers - Berita Harian and Harian Metro - reported that Christian organizations were carrying out covert missions to convert poverty-stricken Muslims by offering them cash, free food and housing and the reports appeared days after the JAIS raid on DUMC.

Such incidents will only work against the 1Malaysia concept championed by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

It cannot be confirmed if these incidents were linked to political strategies, but politicians and their backroom boys must be reminded that religion should not be misused for political purposes. 

Politicians and political strategists should take heed of an old proverb - he who plays with fire will get burnt.