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Freedom from fear would give meaning to Jesus’ message of finding truth, justice, peace, love and salvation from sin
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): As DAP wishes everyone a Merry Christmas to mark the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Jesus’ message of compassion and love still resonates amongst those who seek human dignity in our daily lives. After 50 years of Merdeka, the BN government continues its suppression of press freedom and repression of the people’s fundamental human rights.
Even religious bodies are not left alone. The Internal Security Ministry has told the Catholic weekly newspaper ‘Herald’, to drop the use of the word "Allah" in its Malay language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit because this word is exclusively reserved only for the Muslim God.
Such restrictions not only indicate the absence of the right to publish and expression but is also an infringement of religious freedom when these words have been used before without any complaint previously. Why now after 50 years of Merdeka? Clearly this latest refusal to renew the publishing permit of the Herald only validates the complaints of non-Muslims and minorities that they do not enjoy freedom of worship as provided for in the Federal Constitution until Hindu and Buddhist temples have been indiscriminately torn down.
By issuing this directive in the season of festive goodwill is an insult not only to 800,000 Catholics in Malaysia but also all Christians. If the government is to be so petty and picky about the word “Allah” by disallowing non-Muslims from using them then it should take out the word Allah in the state anthems. According to Aliran the words, “Ya Allah Yang Maha Kuasa...” forms part of the Pahang state anthem. In that case, only Muslims and not non-Muslims, are allowed to sing the national anthem.
Malaysians must restore the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect of the diversity of religions that makes up Malaysia. Failure to let the Herald publish and by imposing such ridiculous restrictions would be irresponsible and contrary to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi’s assurances of greater freedoms for Malaysian society.
In reflecting on Abdullah’s failed promises, we should reflect on the four essential human freedoms outlined by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Freedom from fear would give meaning to Jesus’ message of finding truth, justice, peace, love and salvation from sin. DAP believes that these four essential freedoms nourish and encompass the struggle for political equality, equal economic opportunity, socio-economic justice, environmental protection and enhancing human dignity inherent in the common citizenry of the bangsa Malaysia.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP