Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Sunday Star's Editorial On The Cow Head Controversy

Sunday September 6, 2009

Vision and courage needed against chauvinist herd

The Star Says

SELANGOR Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Shah Alam officials’ attempt to rationalise the relocation of an old Hindu temple to Section 23 flopped miserably yesterday.

The reason: an unruly mob protesting that the temple should not be in a “Muslim-majority area”.

How far do these malcontents represent residents or any particular community?

No respectable group should want to be identified with such chauvinism. The claim of geographical incompatibility is flawed, and the protests deserve the firmness all relevant authorities can muster.

Since when has any location in Malaysia been off-limits for any building of worship? This was never a problem before, so why the need to “quarantine” another faith now?

No religious text forbids the worship of another religion in any neighbourhood. Our nation’s Constitution itself guarantees freedom of worship throughout the land, with no conditions on where this freedom might be curtailed.

No neighbourhood, village, town or state can be said to be out of bounds for the worship of any religion. Since Malaysia itself is a Muslim-majority country, allowing the chauvinistic argument to stand is to invite more trouble nationwide.

Making that argument itself is thus unreasonable, unlawful, unconstitutional, inflammatory and irreligious. Its anti-national element is subversive and possibly seditious.

The Home Ministry has lent a welcome note of disapproval to the loutish “cow head protesters” as of Thursday.

Nothing less than the full weight of the law must fall on these bull-headed rabble-rousers and their incendiary attitude.

One neighbourhood in old Malacca is a popular tourist attraction because a mosque, a temple and a church are practically next to one another. Malaysia itself was once held up as a model multicultural nation in a troubled world.

Is this now to become a mere historical artefact, a curious social oddity only for tourists to reflect upon?

Not only is the credibility of the Government’s 1Malaysia campaign at stake, so is our entire nation’s standing in the world.

There is no excuse for not acting firmly against these quarrelsome demagogues, not even a politician’s election prospects.

Indeed, the real vote-loser is a failure to act boldly in the larger interests of the silent majority of all right-thinking Malaysians.

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