Sunday, January 04, 2009

"...publishing of the Herald in Bahasa Malaysia be stopped..." - Deprivation of freedom of religion

Religious persecution in Malaysia?

In my opinion,the government of Malaysia (i.e. the Home Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister [Mohd Najib Razak], the Prime Minister [Abdullah Ahmad Badawi]...) are persecuting religious minorities in particular the about 850,000 Catholics in the country. The application for renewal was allegedly submitted in July and the result of the application was purposely delayed until the very last day of the year. Of course, if the permit is not renewed, then the Catholic Church have a right to appeal to the Minister, and most likely this will be delayed even further.

By reason of this delay in the renewal of the permit, Catholics in Malaysia will not be getting their 4th January edition of this publication....(See also earlier posting)
However, this year, the Home Ministry has yet to renew the permit although The Herald applied for a renewal earlier than it usually does.

"We expected difficulties, so we applied in July. There should be no reason for the delay," said Lawrence.

"The government said it was still reviewing our licence. But we are now at the tail-end of the year. I must let people know what is going on.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, in an interview with Reuters yesterday, said the government was "still reviewing" The Herald's licence and was following "due process".

"Until Dec 31, we are not going to announce anything. There is plenty of time. Let them wait." - New Straits Times, 18/12/2008 - Catholic weekly made to wait for renewal permit

And until the very last minute did they wait ....and the Catholic Church received the response to their application for renewal on 31/12/2008.

In a letter of reply to the ministry, which was made available to the press, he criticised the conditions as "unreasonable", "irrational", "illegal" and "reeking of ill-will and bad faith".

The letter was addressed to the ministry's Publications and Quranic Text Control unit deputy secretary Abdul Razak Abdul Latif.

The ministry, in a letter received by Murphy on Dec 31 that gave the green light to publish the newspaper, laid down the following conditions:

- the publishing of the Herald in Bahasa Malaysia be stopped until the court decides on the move to seek a declaratory relief that it was entitled to use the word "Allah" in it;

- the publication can only be sold in churches; and

- the newspaper was only meant for Christians be printed clearly on the cover.

Murphy was perplexed by the first condition.

"We are unable to see how these two matters are related.

"Even if the courts dismiss our application for judicial review, that has no bearing on the publication in Bahasa Malaysia."

He said the condition was a serious violation of the constitutional freedom of expression and speech, adding that it also prohibited and/or diminished the rights of citizens to communicate in the national language, in contravention of the National Language Act 1967.

"Connecting the matter of publication in Bahasa Malaysia with the determination of the judicial review proceedings is not only grossly unreasonable, irrational and illegal, but also reeks of ill-will and bad faith in that this condition serves as a form of retribution or punishment on account of our filing of the judicial review."

Murphy said the Herald should be allowed to use the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia segment until the High Court decided otherwise.

He also took exception to the other two conditions.

"We wish to state that the Herald has always been made available only in Catholic churches.

"Further, the masthead 'Herald -- The Catholic Weekly' is self-explanatory and serves as sufficient notice to the world at large that it is a magazine meant only for Catholics in Malaysia."

Murphy asked the ministry to reconsider it's decision and revoke the conditions.

The ministry usually renews the weekly's permit months before the Dec 31 deadline.

This year, it renewed the permit only two days before the New Year.

Razak had warned that the ministry's enforcement unit would take action if the conditions were not met. - New Straits Times, 3/1/2009, Church rejects 'Herald' permit conditions
In my opinion, the current UMNO-led-BN government has wrongly denied Malaysian Catholics the right to continue publishing Herald in Bahasa Malaysia.

Really, the name of the unit that decides on the matters of renewal of the Catholic Herald's permit should definitely be changed from 'Publications and Quranic Text Control unit' to maybe just Publications Control Unit. Now, it seems that some 'Muslim unit' is deciding on matters that should be a secular Malaysian matter.

Mohd Najib Razak (the DPM, who may be the next PM) and the PM must really visit Malaysian Catholic churches, and then they will realise that the language of communication today of the majority of Catholics is Bahasa Malaysia - no more English. Prayers and religious songs are in Bahasa Malaysia. Readings from the Bible is also done in Bahasa Malaysia. Hence, a refusal to allow the Herald to continue its publication in Bahasa Melayu ...(or Bahasa Malaysia) is foolish.

The decision of the government is given on 31/12/2008 (maybe the letter was dated earlier)...and now the Catholic Church will have the right to appeal to the Minister..., and we wonder when that reply will come.

I have a case, where a man was arrested and wrongfully deported - and the appeal to the Home Minister was made during the stipulated time, some time in April /May 2005..., and we are still waiting for the Minister's reply. (And of course, we cannot proceed to court until we get the Minister's reply......mmmm). This is Malaysia.

And if you were to go to court - without the Minister's reply - the courts will most likely strike the matter off because the Minister is yet to reply ---- or maybe because the Minister's decision is final and there can be no judicial review. We shall see....we shall see...

What is the position of the alternative government - the Pakatan Rakyat government?

SILENCE, I suppose as the Kuala Trengganu by-elections is just round the corner, and that is a Muslim majority seat...

I truly hope that the Pakatan Rakyat leadership do come out with their clear position on this matter without fear or favour...

What happened to the HERALD maybe also be because of the up-coming by-election, with the BN hoping that the opposition will take up this issue and support HERALD's right to publish in Bahasa Malaysia, and oppose the conditions imposed...

Condition 1 - "- the publishing of the Herald in Bahasa Malaysia be stopped until the court decides on the move to seek a declaratory relief that it was entitled to use the word "Allah" in it".

Of course condition 1 is absurd. If they was issue over the word 'Allah', then the condition should have been just not using the word 'Allah' - not the stopping of the whole publication in Bahasa Malaysia.

The preventing of the word 'Allah' also should have been by means of a interim court order since the matter is already before the court. The Home Ministry (the government of Malaysia) should have applied to court for such an order to prevent temporary usage of the term 'Allah'. In doing as it has done now, the government of Malaysia has demonstrated great disrespect of the courts.

Again, I truly hope that the Pakatan Rakyat leadership do come out with their clear position on this matter without fear or favour...

At least we will know whether they have the same...or a different position.

----- **** -----

Now the newspaper has been told it must stop publishing its Malay edition while the issue is resolved in the courts, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English, Chinese and Tamil.

Murphy Pakiam, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and publisher of the weekly newspaper, said in a letter to the Home Ministry that it had seven days to revoke its decision or face legal action.

He said he was "totally perplexed" over the suspension which "reeks of ill will and bad faith" and was effectively a punishment for the legal battle that is due to be settled next month.

"We are therefore advised and verily believe that this condition constitutes a serious violation of our constitutional freedom of expression and speech," he said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by AFP....

...About 60 per cent of the nation's 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims, who dominate the government.

The rest of the population includes indigenous tribes as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians - practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, among others.

The Herald's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has said that more than half Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, most of whom live on the Borneo island states and who mainly speak Malay. - AFP - Daily Express, Sabah, 3/1/2009, Catholic paper may take govt to court on permit condition

1 comment:

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


To those who are irrational they don't give any reason
When the mind is prejudiced there's automatically intellectual prison
When there's selective discriminating treatment there'll be political poison
When there're strong protests in words and actions there'll be charge of 'treason'

(c) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 040109
Sun. 4th Jan. 2009.