Thursday, 16 January 2014

Allah issue a distraction

Sin Chew Jit Poh
17 January 2014

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Football managers are masters at distracting attention away from the shortcomings of their team. When they lose, some managers will be quick to make a big deal of something else and not the poor performance of the team.

The funniest one that I can remember is Alex Ferguson blaming the colour of Manchester United’s kit. It was grey and according to him they lost because the players could not see one another on the pitch.

Not all managers are as imaginative as that and usually they will fall onto the normal source of distraction which is the referee. David Moyes did that when Tottenham Hotspur won at Old Trafford and Alan Pardew did the same thing when Newcastle was beaten by Manchester City.

Amidst the fury and the self-righteous anger there was little room to raise the issue that their teams also lost because they were simply unable to finish off the many chances that they had. By raging at the referee, discussions of the team’s weaknesses were skilfully side stepped.

I have a feeling that in a way this Allah furore is a similar tactic being used by the government. Nothing is more emotive than religion and it is a useful tool to be used in order to get people to react as opposed to reflect.

Just for the record I want to say here that I believe that there is absolutely no theological reason to prevent anyone from using Allah to describe God. The Quran is full of verses where the word Allah is used to describe God, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Quran recognises that the concept of God differs from faith to faith, but at the end of the day God is still God and the term used to call God is Allah.

There is also no legal justification in Malaysia that can be used to ban a people from practising their faith in peace. The propagation of religion to Muslims can be controlled, this is true, but if you are simply practicing your faith peacefully, and you are not propagating your religion to Muslims, then no one should be allowed to bother you. That is your right and it is guaranteed by the Constitution.

So this ban on Christians using Allah to describe god is ridiculous theologically and unlawful constitutionally.

So why is the issue being allowed to fester? Why are government figures either silent (like the Prime Minister) or clearly supportive of banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah (like the Menteri Besar of Kedah)? Cowardice and bigotry can’t be ruled out, but let us not forget how convenient this emotive issue is.

If Muslims, being the majority of the population, are fuming under the misconception that somehow their religion is being threatened, then perhaps they will also not notice a few other things happening around them.

Things like the soaring cost of living without the corresponding soaring wages; or perhaps the fact that government ministers have shown gross insensitivities to the plight of the ordinary citizen trying to make ends meet? What about the fact that the hundreds of millions of Ringgit of people’s money which was lost during the PKFZ scandal appears to have happened by magic because the Public Prosecutors appear to be unable to find the culprit.

And of course we have forgotten that the Auditor General’s Report of just a few months ago is still valid and it still says that millions of Ringgit is wasted by government agencies.

These are all issues that affect the ordinary man on the street. The price raises hurt us, and the money wasted through incompetence and corruption hurt us. Christians respectfully using the name of Allah should not hurt us. We should be focussing on the former and not the latter yet, due to misdirection, things are the wrong way round.

 

2 comments:

foo wy len said...

Prof,
They say you can cheat some people some time but you cannot cheat all the people all the time. But for the govt to be able to do just that for the past 5 1/2 decades, there can only be two reasons:-
1. thew govt has perfected the craft of cheating
2. Malaysians(or at least 47% of them at the last count) must have nothing in between their ears!
Either answer, but probably both, is really tragic to say the least.

rpremkumar2u said...

Clearly the PM Najib is silent and considers it elegant. Then we have his ambitious new kid on the block trumpeting his views from Kedah - something like a cross between a Ruler and a Brutus - eager to spray fuel to the fire instead of extinguishing it with sage advice. It's really gutter politics.