Saturday, June 02, 2007

Freedom of Belief and Lina Joy - the sequel

Reading the comments on my previous posting regarding this issue, I shall try to explain further my views. Absolutely, comments on Malaysiakini is getting hot and sometimes missing the point. Some letters in Malaysiakini blew things out of proportion, when the real issue is about changing religion on NRIC card.

Let me write a disclaimer first:
" Anything I write here, if it is wrong according to Islamic tenets, principles, would be my own fault for I am an ignorant idiot. As in idiomatic expression; I am just a blind man trying to explain what an elephant look like, feeling it with my hand and telling everyone what I think it look like, when I could not see. Anything good is from Allah the Most Knowledgeable and anything bad, is from me."

Does NRD has the power to erase the religion part in your IC card? Well NRD is just a Govt Dept, it only do its jobs, it doesnt have the authority to do that. So NRD is right in advising Lina Joy to go to Shariah Court to get the certificate that certify she has renounce Islam.
You see, all Muslim in this world is like a community. If one Muslim died, it would be the responsibility of Muslim community to accord him or her Muslim rites of burial, washing and last prayer. If Lina Joy has renounce Islam, (this has to be done and witnessed by the ruler of the Muslims) then the Muslim community washed their hand on her, her actions, her last rites, her burial is of no concern of the Muslim community.
Muslim community 'tidak berdosa' if Lina Joy die tomorrow and she be cremated or buried without being accorded last rites - prayer, body washing, burial etc. Her body could be fed to the carrions like the Parsees for all we care. It would be none of our responsibility.
And who represent the ruler in Malay States? The Shariah Courts of course. So all Lina Joy has to do is go to Shariah court and renounce Islam. So we Muslims can wash our our responsility to her.
By the same argument, if someone in Malaysia found a dead body, no matter what it look like (white, black, blue(smurf?) or yellow) and if there is an IC which says he/she professes Islam, then it would be our responsibility to accord the dead person the last rites.
Let me give another example. Have any of you been buying alcoholic drink at the supermarket where some of their workers at the checkout Muslims? What happen if a Muslim try to buy alcoholic beer? (There are some brand of beer that doesnt contain alcohol) The Muslim would first ask, "Are you Muslim?". And if affirmative, he or she would refuse to sell the beer right? Why?
Is Muslim person allowed to enter the casino at Genting? Why?
I am not going to answer those for you, you would have to research yourself.

As for question about polygamy, I would rather not go into this sensitive subject. In Islam, our LOVE, the first and foremost is for Allah and His Prophet Muhammad s.a.w then our mother, then our mother, then our mother (3X) then our father.
The Prophet exhort us to get married, and have many, many children and bring up our children in 'iman' Islamic faith. When we die, the children will 'doakan' us, and help lessen our 'siksa kubur'.
So there, the encouragement to have many children, and up to four wives at one time. Of course, most bumbling idiot like me, cant even manage one. The Prophet gave us a good example. He had nine wives, Khadijah r.a and Aisha r.a are the most well known.
Perhaps someone else can explain better than me on the above issues, please 'silakan'.
I found this explanation by Nathaniel Tan in Malaysiakini helpful.
Lina Joy: Let’s not leap to polemics
Nathaniel Tan
May 31, 07 2:58pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the malaysiakini report No joy for Lina. We can expect a lot of emotional responses to the recent ruling involving Lina Joy. In navigating the understandable amount of passion surrounding this issue, it is perhaps worth ensuring that the details of this judgement are properly understood for what they are.

Many are likely to say that this is the death of freedom in religion in Malaysia, because Lina Joy was denied of her right to convert. A closer look reveals a slightly more textured landscape. By way of brief chronology:

Lina was a Muslim who renounced Islam.

She went to the National Registration Department (NRD) to have the religion on her MyKad and on record changed.

The NRD said: ‘For us to change the religion on your MyKad, we need a certificate from the Syariah Court stating that you have indeed renounced Islam’.

Yesterday, the Federal Court upheld the ruling of the NRD.
It is important to realise that technically and theoretically (if nothing else), the road is still open for Lina to go to the Syariah courts, apply for recognition of her decision to renounce Islam, obtain it and live happily ever after.

Some make the argument, clearly not entirely without merit, that since Lina has renounced Islam, she should not in any way, shape or form have to submit herself to the jurisdiction of the Syariah under any circumstances as this would be subjecting a non-Muslim to Muslim laws.

Others yet (again, perhaps understandably) are extremely cynical about the chances of the Syariah courts actually granting such a controversial recognition of apostasy. The hardcore religious, after all, are likely to fear the ripple effect this may cause – a wave of mass apostasy being the biggest fear (founded or unfounded) of all.

Some might even see a political angle to this – where the ruling powers refuse to take any steps that would cost them Malay votes in a time where the non-Malay votes are swinging strongly against the government.

A 'miracle' decision by the Syariah court – should Lina decide to apply there – to allow her renunciation might be a relatively successful compromise. It would appease some of the more religious parties who hold the Syariah in such high esteem, and espouse its ability to dispense justice fairly to non-Muslims (as in their much touted case of Nyonya Tahir), while essentially granting Lina the fundamental right to convert.

In any case, it would be extremely mature of us to see the judgement for what it is and not be too quick to condemn it for what it is not (or what it isn't yet). If we are to criticise it, which is our inherent right, let us be clear on what we are debating, rather than leap to polemics.


kaki.ayam said...

Great, answer my question then...

What are the chances that Lina will be successful in her application to be apostate?

Answer that my dear, if it is as simple as in filling up a form and making an oath, wouldn't she done it long time ago?

I find that your statement -
"Her body could be fed to the carrions like the Parsees for all we care."
distasteful. Indeed Muslim care too much for it's own community that it loses it's humanity. Extremely tribal mentality...

You point to many facts, which I agrees with you partially, but at the same time you openly ignore certain fact which are extremely crucial.

Remember the whole Muslim community want to Prevent her from being a successful apostate, officially that is. NRD is just a tool.

Your statement -
"Does NRD has the power to erase the religion part in your IC card?"

My answer is No, only the holder of the IC has the right.

By the way, from my conversation with my muslim colleague and news on the paper and other media, it's pretty obvious that the sharia court is full of flaws. It's capability to dispense justice is very questionable. God's laws? Man dispensing God's law?

So many of my kakak and auntie cried foul on how the sharia fail to dispense justice to their divorce.

This is the problem with muslim community. Legalistic. Thank God that I am given freedom of joyful obedient.

Read more on what it means to be a Legalistic religion.

Anonymous said...

A few points to ponder:

#1. Yes you will find Malaysian Moslems working in Genting casinos as guards. Moreover, Non-Malaysian Moslems are allowed to gamble in casinos. Likewise you will find moslems working in pubs serving alchohol as well.

#2. How more publicly does Lina Joy need to inform the Malaysian public (and the world) now that she is now a christian. Does she really need to perform in front of a group of moslem in order to prove that she's an apostate?

#3. Shariah Court main task is anything but to help to declare anyone apostate.

#4. Malaysia again proved to the world how intolerant the moslem reglion is (and this supposedly from a moderate moslem country).

Anonymous said...

If one has lost his or her heart for the religion, even a legion of ulamas cannot change his or her mind. End of it all, the mind and heart holds the true accepptance of what one wld really want.

You can force a horse to the river, but you can't make the horse to drink the water.

It's interesting hearing people say, Malays born as Islam and cannot change their religion. People forget history, before the golden times of Melaka, what was the religion of your forefathers? Were they born Islam? or did they worship the sun, land and water for crops and sea abundance for harvest?

Comes to question of a dumb mute person, If he can't speak or hear, how would he/she "Mengucap" or even confess to be Islam? Same goes for a mentally challenged person.

Read the Quran yourself, don't buy or be lazy and hear it from mad men using it for their own selfish reason. God gave all humans a functional brain, use it. Don't use Mob powers to push in your demands. We had May 13th once enough. Don't repeat such a stupidity again. When such things happen, the real lossers are the one who lost their lives, limb and loved ones.

Michael Chick said...

It's been interesting to read such free-flowing comments on an all "Malaysian" free for all. While we are on the subject, how many of you have read the book entitled "Contesting Malayness"? Written by a Professor of National University of Singapore. Cost S$32 (about). It reflects the Anthropologists views that there is no such race as the "Malays" to begin with. If we follow the original migration of the Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago, they moved into Taiwan, (now the Alisan), then into the Phillipines (now the Aeta) and moved into Borneo (4,500yrs ago) (Dayak). They also split into Sulawesi and progressed into Jawa, and Sumatera. The final migration was to the Malayan Peninsular 3,000yrs ago. A sub-group from Borneo also moved to Champa in Vietnam at 4,500yrs ago.

Interestingly, the Champa deviant group moved back to present day Kelantan. There are also traces of the Dong Song and HoaBinh migration from Vietnam and Cambodia. To confuse the issue, there was also the Southern Thai migration, from what we know as Pattani today. (see also "Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsular")

Of course, we also have the Minangkabau's which come from the descendants of Alexander the Great and a West Indian Princess. (Sejarah Melayu page 1-3)

So the million Dollar Question... Is there really a race called the "Malays"? All anthropologists DO NOT SEEM TO THINK SO.

Neither do the "Malays" who live on the West Coast of Johor. They'd rather be called Javanese. What about the west coast Kedah inhabitants who prefer to be known as "Achenese"? or the Ibans who simply want to be known as IBANS. Try calling a Kelabit a "Malay" and see what response you get... you’ll be so glad that their Head-Hunting days are over.

In an article in the Star, dated: Dec 3rd 2006

available for on-line viewing at:

An excerp is reproduced here below:

"The Malays – taken as an aggregation of people of different ethnic backgrounds but who speak the same language or family of languages and share common cultural and traditional ties – are essentially a new race, compared to the Chinese, Indians and the Arabs with their long histories of quests and conquests.

The Malay nation, therefore, covers people of various ethnic stock, including Javanese, Bugis, Bawean, Achehnese, Thai, orang asli, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and descendants of Indian Muslims who had married local women.

Beneath these variations, however, there is a common steely core that is bent on changing the Malay persona from its perceived lethargic character to one that is brave, bold and ready to take on the world. "

The definition of “Malay” is therefore simply a collection of people's who speak a similar type language. With what is meant by a similar type language does not mean that the words are similar. Linguists call this the "Lego-type" language, where words are added on to the root word to make meaning and give tenses and such. Somehow, the Indonesians disagree with this classification and insist on being called "Indonesians" even though the majority of "Malays" have their roots in parts of Indonesia? They refuse to be called "Malay"…. Anyhow you may define it.

The writer failed to identify (probably didn't know), that the "Malay" definition also includes, the Champa, Dong Song, HoabinHian, The Taiwanese Alisan and the Philippino Aetas. He also did not identify that the "Orang Asli" are (for lack of a better term) ex-Africans. If you try to call any one of our East Malaysian brothers an "Orang Asli", they WILL BEAT YOU UP! I had to repeat this because almost all West Malaysians make the same mistake when we cross the South China Sea. Worse, somehow, they feel even more insulted when you call them “Malay”. Somehow, “kurang ajar” is uttered below their breath as if “Malay” was a really bad word for them. I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Watch “Malays in Africa”; a Museum Negara produced DVD. Also, the “Champa Malays” by the same.

With this classification, they MUST also include the Phillipinos, the Papua New Guineans, the Australian Aboroginies, as well as the Polynesian Aboroginies. These are of the Australo Melanesians who migrated out of Africa 60,000yrs ago.

Getting interesting? Read on...

"Malay" should also include the Taiwanese singer "Ah Mei" who is Alisan as her tribe are the anscestors of the "Malays". And finally, you will need to define the Southern Chinese (Southern Province) as Malay also, since they are from the same stock 6,000yrs ago.

Try calling the Bugis a "Malay". Interestingly, the Bugis, who predominantly live on Sulawesi are not even Indonesians. Neither do they fall into the same group as the migrating Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago nor the Australo Melanesian group from Africa.

Ready for this?

The Bugis are the cross-breed between the Chinese and the Arabs. (FYI, a runaway Ming Dynasty official whom Cheng Ho was sent to hunt down) Interestingly, the Bugis were career Pirates in the Johor-Riau Island areas. Now the nephew of Daeng Kemboja was appointed the First Sultan of Selangor. That makes the entire Selangor Sultanate part Arab, part Chinese! Try talking to the Bugis Museum curator near Kukup in Johor. Kukup is located near the most south-western tip of Johor. (Due south of Pontian Kechil)

Let's not even get into the Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, and Hang Lekir, who shared the same family last name as the other super famous "Hang" family member... Hang Li Poh. And who was she? the princess of a Ming Dynasty Emperor who was sent to marry the Sultan of Malacca. Won't that make the entire Malacca Sultanate downline "Baba" ? Since the older son of the collapsed Malaccan Sultanate got killed in Johor, (the current Sultanate is the downline of the then, Bendahara) the only other son became the Sultan of Perak. Do we see any Chinese-ness in Raja Azlan? Is he the descendant of Hang Li Poh?

Next question. If the Baba’s are part Malay, why have they been marginalized by NOT BEING BUMIPUTERA? Which part of “Malay” are they not? Whatever the answer, why then are the Portugese of Malacca BUMIPUTERA? Did they not come 100yrs AFTER the arrival of the first Baba’s? Parameswara founded Malacca in 1411. The Portugese came in 1511, and the Dutch in the 1600’s. Strangely, the Baba’s were in fact once classified a Bumiputera, but a decided that they were strangely “declassified” in the 1960’s. WHY?

The Sultan of Kelantan had similar roots to the Pattani Kingdom making him of Thai origin. And what is this "coffee table book" by the Sultan of Perlis claiming to be the direct descendant of the prophet Muhammed? Somehow we see Prof Khoo Khay Khim’s signature name on the book. I’ll pay good money to own a copy of it myself. Anyone has a spare?

So, how many of you have met with orang Asli’s? the more northern you go, the more African they look. Why are they called Negrito’s? It is a Spanish word, from which directly transalates “mini Negros”. The more southern you go, the more “Indonesian” they look. And the ones who live at Cameron Highlands kinda look 50-50. You can see the Batek at Taman Negara, who really look like Eddie Murphy to a certain degree. Or the Negritos who live at the Thai border near Temenggor Lake (north Perak). The Mah Meri in Carrie Island look almost like the Jakuns in Endau Rompin. Half African, half Indonesian.

By definition, (this is super eye-opening) there was a Hindu Malay Empire in Kedah. Yes, I said right… The Malays were Hindu. It was, by the old name Langkasuka. Today known as Lembah Bujang. This Hindu Malay Empire was 2,000yrs old. Pre-dating Borrobudor AND Angkor Watt. Who came about around 500-600yrs later. Lembah Bujang was THE mighty trading empire, and its biggest influence was by the Indians who were here to help start it. By definition, this should make the Indians BUMIPUTERAS too since they were here 2,000yrs ago! Why are they marginalized?

Of the 3 books listed, "Contesting Malayness" (about S$32 for soft cover) is "banned” in Malaysia; you will need to "smuggle" it into Malaysia; for very obvious reasons.... :( or read it in Singapore if you don’t feel like breaking the law.

The other, "Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago, and the Malay Peninsular" (about RM84) are openly sold at all leading bookshops; Kinokuniya, MPH, Borders, Popular, Times, etc. You should be able to find a fair bit of what I’ve been quoting in this book too, but mind you, it is very heavy reading material, and you will struggle through the initial 200+ pages. It is extremely technical in nature. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t banned (yet)…coz our authorities couldn’t make head or tail of it? (FYI, if I wasn’t doing research for my film, I wouldn’t have read it in its entirety)

While the "Sejarah Melayu" (about RM 35) is available at the University Malaya bookshop. I have both the English and Royal Malay version published by MBRAS.

Incidentally, the Professor (Author) was invited to speak on this very subject about 2 yrs ago, in KL, invited by the MBRAS. You can imagine the "chaos" this seminar created...... :(

There were actually many sources for these findings. Any older Philippino Museum Journal also carries these migration stories. This migration is also on display at the Philippines National Museum in Luzon. However, they end with the Aeta, and only briefly mention that the migration continued to Indonesia and Malaysia, but fully acknowledge that all Philippinos came from Taiwan. And before Taiwan, China. There is another book (part of a series) called the "Archipelago Series" endorsed by Tun Mahatir and Marina Mohammad, which states the very same thing right at the introduction on page one. “… that the Malays migrated out of Southern China some 6,000yrs ago…”. I believe it is called the “Pre-History of Malaysia” Hard Cover, about RM99 found in (mostly) MPH. They also carry “Pre-History of Indonesia” by the same authors for the same price.

It is most interesting to note that our Museum officials invented brand new unheard-of terms such as "Proto-Malay" and "Deutero-Malay", to replace the accepted Scientific Term, Australo-Melanesians (African descent) and Austronesians (Chinese Descent, or Mongoloid to be precise) in keeping in line with creating this new “Malay” term.. They also created the new term called the Melayu-Polynesian. (Which Melayu exists in the Polynesian Islands?) Maybe they were just trying to be “Patriotic” and “Nationalistic”… who knows…? After all, we also invented the term, “Malaysian Time”. While the rest of the world calls it “Tardy” and “Late”. It’s quite an embarrassment actually…. Singaporeans crossing the border are asked to set their watches back by about 100yrs, to adjust to “Malaysian Time”…

In a nutshell, the British Colonial Masters, who, for lack of a better description, needed a “blanket” category for ease of classification, used the term “Malay”.

The only other logical explanation, which I have heard, was that “Malaya” came as a derivative of “Himalaya”, where at Langkasuka, or Lembah Bujang today was where the Indians were describing the locals as “Malai” which means “Hill People” in Tamil. This made perfect sense as the focal point at that time was at Gunung Jerai, and the entire Peninsular had a “Mountain Range” “Banjaran Titiwangsa”, as we call it.

The Mandarin and Cantonese accurately maintain the accurate pronunciation of “Malai Ren” and “Malai Yun” respectively till this very day. Where “ren” and “yun” both mean “peoples”.

Interestingly, “Kadar” and “Kidara”, Hindi and Sanskrit words accurately describe “Kedah” of today. They both mean “fertile Land for Rice cultivation. Again, a name given by the Indians 2,000yrs ago during the “Golden Hindu Era” for a duration of 1,500yrs.

It was during the “Golden Hindu Era” that the new term which the Hindu Malay leaders also adopted the titles, “Sultan” and “Raja”. The Malay Royalty were Hindu at that time, as all of Southeast Asia was under strong Indian influence, including Borrobudor, and Angkor Watt. Bali today still practices devout Hindu Beliefs. The snake amulet worn by the Sultans of today, The Royal Dias, and even the “Pelamin” for weddings are tell-tale signs of these strong Indian influences. So, it was NOT Parameswara who was the first Sultan in Malaya. Sultanage existed approximately 1,500years before he set foot on the Peninsular during the "Golden Hindu Era" of Malaysia. And they were all Hindu.

“PreHistory of Malaysia” also talks about the “Lost Kingdom” of the “Chi-Tu” where the local Malay Kingdom were Buddhists. The rest of the “Malays” were Animistic Pagans.

But you may say, "Sejarah Melayu" calls it "Melayu"? Yes, it does. Read it again; is it trying to describe the 200-odd population hamlet near Palembang by the name "Melayu"?(Google Earth will show this village).

By that same definition, then, the Achehnese should be considered a “race”. So should the Bugis and the Bataks, to be fair. Orang Acheh, Orang Bugis, Orang Laut, Orang Melayu now mean the same… descriptions of ethnic tribes, at best. And since the “Malays” of today are not all descendants of the “Melayu” kampung in Jambi (if I remember correctly), the term Melayu has been wrongly termed. From day one. Maybe this is why the Johoreans still call themselves either Bugis, or Javanese until today. So do the Achehnese on the West coast of Kedah & Perlis and the Kelantanese insist that they came from Champa, Vietnam.

Morover, the fact that the first 3 pages claiming that "Melayu" comes from Alexander the Great and the West Indian Princess doesn't help. More importantly, it was written in 1623. By then, the Indians had been calling the locals “Malai” for 1,500 yrs already. So the name stuck….

And with the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals in page 1-3) naming the grandson of Iskandar Zulkarnain, and the West Indian Princess forming the Minangkabau. Whenever a Malay is asked about it, he usually says it is "Karut" (bullshit), but all Malayan based historians insist on using Sejarah Melayu as THE main reference book for which "Malay" history is based upon. The only other books are “Misa Melayu”, "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa", and “Hikayat Hang Tuah” which is of another long and sometimes “heated” discussion.

I find this strange.

I also find, that it is strange that the "Chitti's" (Indian+Malay) of Malacca are categorized as Bumiputera, while their Baba brothers are not. Why? Both existed during the Parameswara days. Which part of the “Malay” side of the Baba’s is not good enough for Bumiputera classification? Re-instate them. They used to be Bumiputera pre 1960’s anyway.

Instead of "Malay", I believe that "Maphilindo" (circa 1963) would have been the closest in accurately trying to describe the Malays. However, going by that definition, it should most accurately be "MaphilindoThaiChinDiaVietWanGreekCamfrica". And it is because of this; even our University Malaya Anthropology professors cannot look at you in the eye and truthfully say that the word "Malay" technically and accurately defines a race.

This is most unfortunate.

So, in a nutshell, the “Malays” (anthropologists will disagree with this “race” definition) are TRULY ASIA !!! For once the Tourism Ministry got it right….

We should stop calling this country “Tanah Melayu” instead call it, “Tanah Truly Asia”

You must understand now, why I was "tickled pink" when I found out that the Visit Malaysia slogan for 2007 was "Truly Asia". They are so correct... (even though they missed out Greece and Africa)

BTW, the name UMNO should be changed to UTANO the new official acronym for “United Truly Asia National Organization” . After all, they started out as a Bugis club in Johor anyway….

I told you all that I hate race classifications…. This is so depressing. Even more depressing is that the "malays" are not even a race; not since day one.

“Truly Asia Boleh”

Anonymous said...

Michaael chick-you are soo kaki busuk dan most of all busuk hati,pedengki-peduli apa kau melayu tu dari mana?!!!
Taj akan menukar hakikat tanah melayu itu orang melayu yang punya...dengki ke?

Michael Chick said...

Hey, mr. Anonymous, nobody said anything about whether the land is yours or not. That is for the Land title people to decide. What we are discussing here is that the "malays" are not a race. You do have an identity though, and your race is where you originated from. That is your correct and appropriate "race" classification.

It is most worrisome when individuals reject information and knowledge. It is the first signs of failure.

Speak not with unbridled emotion, but speak passionately about facts.