Dave, who lives in the US and with whom I’ve been playing Backgammon online for some years now, asked me about the Allah issue and the subsequent church fire-bombings and I replied, in the little 1000-character space we have for messages every turn:
“It's a political issue dressed up as a religious one. It is also a spotlight on the divide between the west malaysian (or peninsular) states and the two states we have 500km away which we call East Malaysia. The East Malaysians have lived a much more peaceful pluralistic society, something we on the west could learn from. Unfortunately political power resides in the west and it serves the political masters here better to simply plunder the oil and timber resources of the east while suppressing their political ambitions. Very sad.”
I’m not going to say here how absurd some of the arguments are. Especially in the light of so many facts such as:
i. The world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, freely allows the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims. This is the same country we’ve been buying Bahasa Indonesia Bibles from.
ii. Middle-eastern Christians have been using the name ‘Allah’ for centuries.
iii. There are clear verses in the Quran saying the desecration of a Christian place of worship is a big no-no. Forget the forfeiture of 72 virgins or whatever, I mean this is serious don’t-even-think-of-it-sonny shit.
and so on…
However, it seems some people only want to see one side of the coin. Nevermind if it’s the side with no indication of any denomination or worth.
Now, I try to steer clear of overly-political opinions on this blog as I feel this platform should be for ‘making a difference’. I have made concessions, notably when the Perak State Assembly was dissolved some months ago.
I’m making some concessions here again but mainly because I do think this is indeed an opportunity to make a difference.
What opportunity, you ask? Well, just two simple things:
1. Speak up - make your voice heard in a peaceful, rational way. Write to your MPs or even to the PM, leave comments on major blogs and the alternative press like Malaysiakini or Malaysia Today. Make sure there is a clear signal sent that the dissenting voices protesting against the sheer stupidity of the Home Ministry’s actions are loud and numerous. Strange thing here is that it really isn’t about what you say - it’s about how many people are saying it.
2. Vote. It’s some time away yet, but when you have a chance (a by-election perhaps?) exercise your democratic right and vote against stupidity, bigotry, megalomania and corrupt hegemony. If you haven’t registered to vote, do so without delay. A visit to the post office should sort you out. Malaysia may have lost many things in the last 25 years, but we haven’t yet lost the value of a vote. If it’s the last thing we hold onto, let it count.
So, take these two opportunities and make something of them. Make them count. Make YOU count. And make a difference.