I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to share with all Malaysians that Jesus Christ’s message of peace, love and freedom is still dear to my heart. For me, the spirit of truth, justice, equal opportunity and salvation from sin is not merely an ideal but something we must strive for.
Having said that, it is sad to note that despite my last year’s Christmas message – calling on the federal government to stop intimidating the Catholic weekly newspaper ‘Herald’ by demanding the publication to drop the use of the word “Allah” in its Malay language section – is still not heeded.
Despite the Federal Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and freedom of worship for all including non-Muslims, the Barisan Nasional government still refused to stop its suppression of press freedom and people’s fundamental human rights.
The Herald is given until the end of this month to drop the word “Allah” to describe God despite the fact that it has been used for more than a century, and it is an acceptable term in neighbouring Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.
This means the Catholic weekly may be closed down as the federal government had indicated that it is still looking into the matter. If this happens, it will be yet another black spot in our history.
I call on Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to stop this, based on his own assurance that he would respect freedom and religious harmony. The Prime Minister has recently said that his “final mission was to cool racial and religious tensions in this multiethnic country”.
If he is really serious about his own pledges, it is time for him to walk the talk. What is the point of saying that “a shrinking economy and deepening divisions between the majority Malays and minority Chinese and Indians are the biggest threats facing the country” if he is not willing to anything serious and tangible about it.
I even agree with Datuk Seri Abdullah that “these are important things that need attention as race and religion are very sensitive issues and if not managed well, it may raise all kinds of situations” and I promise I would do everything I can to assist him and other government leaders in fostering harmony and ensuring rights of every citizen regardless of race and religion.
As a first step, the Home Ministry must back off from harassing The Herald and other mass media. With that as a sign of a sincere effort, we may look forward to a better Malaysia.
I believe the spirit of Christmas can guide us in our struggle for political equality, equal opportunity, socio-economic justice, environmental protection and enhancing human dignity inherent in the common citizenry of the bangsa Malaysia.