Let’s pray for religious tolerance

The Church must strive for religious rights and freedom

October 31, 2007 was a sad day for the residents of Kampung Rimba Jaya in Shah Alam and a black day for religious tolerance in Malaysia. It was the day when the100-year old Sri Maha Mariaman Temple in the village was demolished in a manner that showed total and blatant disrespect for the sensitivities of Hindu Malaysians.

Despite agreeing to move out to a new location, enforcement officers from the Majlis Bandaran Shah Alam(MBSA),and police armed with machine guns and knives brutally drove out the devotees and demolished the temple together with scores of houses. It is very disturbing that they did this a week before the Deepavali festival of Lights, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar.

Arrival of enforcement team

In the bloody fracas a number of devotees were injured including the temple priest, some of the residents and four lawyers, who went to volunteer legal aid, were arrested. The latter were intimidated and manhandled at gunpoint without any respect for their profession. This attitude and actions of our enforcement units are unbecoming of a nation that preaches racial and religious moderation and tolerance.


Enforcement officers


While all these were happening to our fellow citizens of the Hindu faith, what did we, as Christians do to empathize with them. Most of us continued to go about our daily routine oblivious to the problems faced by those around us. We even attended Sunday service as though nothing had happened. As usual, the plight of our Hindu brethren of Kg.Rimba Jaya, was not even highlighted during our services nor did we offer special prayers for them. We were totally
indifferent to the feelings of those in pain around us. Are we any different from the enforcement officers who unjustly inflicted pain and suffering to fellow humans?


Enforcement team in action

Fortunately at least we had our Bishop Paul Tan, deputy president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), to criticize the high handed actions of the authorities in demolishing the temple and homes. He described this atrocious behavior as “insensitive and intolerant”.

This what Bishop Tan had to say : The fact that this huge loss is not caused by earthquake, tsunami or any other natural catastrophe but by governmental agencies has compounded the people’s misery and shock many times over. Places of worship are sacred places and the authorities must adhere to strict and proper protocals in taking action on such places”.(Malaysiakini,Nov.3).


Lawyers arrested and handcuffed

The bishop also criticized MBSA for the attack on temple priest Siva Sri Ramalingga Gurukal who was not armed and posed no threat to anyone. We share his views that this arrogant and violent actions by the MBSA in Kg.Rimba Jaya,is unwarranted if not checked, could encourage other local authorities to follow suit in future.




Demolished temple and homes
We must support the MCCBCHST in expressing our deepest regret and dismay over the MBSA’s actions. We call on the government to stop these mob-like actions of the MBSA and other local authorities.Let us also offer our aid in whatever way we can to those organizations that are working to help the affected residents of Kg.Rimba Jaya in rebuilding their temple, their homes and their lives as a whole.

We are denied our legitimate religious rights and freedom in our own land. We may be helpless in fighting for our rights against the powerful forces arrayed against us. The only way out of our predicament is through peaceful political means. We must strive to make people aware of their responsibilities in the coming general elections.

The Church has the moral obligation of not only to encourage its congregation to vote but to vote wisely so that we can bring about the necessary changes for a fair and just Malaysia where citizens of various races and religions can live in peace, harmony and mutual respect.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments

No connection between attending Sunday service and demolition of temple


I would like to refer to Dr Chris Anthony’s letter (Nov 18 2007 issue), whereby he describes the way officials of MBSA (Majlis Bandaran Shah Alam) had handled the demolishing of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam.

According to his letter it was a really bad situation for ordinary citizens to have suffered such humiliation and pain in defending their right to practising their religion.

However what I cannot accept is his remark that is an attempt by him to ridicule Catholics and Christians who had gone for Sunday Mass or Sunday Service.

“While all these were happening to our fellow citizens of the Hindu faith, what did we, as Christians do to empathise with them.

Most of us continued to go about our daily routine oblivious of the problems faced by those around us. We even attended Sunday service as though nothing had happened.”

I fail to understand what does attending Sunday Service has to do with what happened. Does the learned doctor mean we should all have been with our Hindu brothers fighting alongside them rather that exercising our legitimate right to attend Sunday Service/Mass?

How can he say that we were totally indifferent to the feelings of those in pain around us; How can he say that we are no different from the enforcement officers who unjustly inflicted pain and suffering to fellow humans, just because we chose to attend Sunday Service.

This is not the first time that the learned doctor has ridiculed Catholics and their rituals and practices. In previous letters to the HERALD he has questioned why only Catholics can receive “Holy Communion”. No local Catholic Bishop came forward to offer an explanation or defend the Eucharist, but due to the deluge of replies to his ridiculous attempt to “put down” this practice, he changed his tune fast.

He has also in his letters to the HERALD “put down” the practices of Catholics/Christians and has described Catholics as “obsessed with prayer and indifferent to the sufferings of our neighbours”.

Quote:“Unfortunately today our Catholic priests are increasingly seen as mere administrators of church rituals, which by themselves without a real concern for the condition of the human heart, serve no purpose as it is devoid of substance and love.” Unquote

Why is there no Bishop coming forward to reply to Dr Chris Anthony’s ridiculous silly statements? Why do our Bishops readily defend the rights of other religions but are ‘Stone Silent’ when this learned doctor ridicules and undermines Catholic religious practices?

Burnard Anthony Faleel
Subang Jaya
No connection between attending Sunday service and demolition of temple


I would like to refer to Dr Chris Anthony’s letter (Nov 18 2007 issue), whereby he describes the way officials of MBSA (Majlis Bandaran Shah Alam) had handled the demolishing of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam.

According to his letter it was a really bad situation for ordinary citizens to have suffered such humiliation and pain in defending their right to practising their religion.

However what I cannot accept is his remark that is an attempt by him to ridicule Catholics and Christians who had gone for Sunday Mass or Sunday Service.

“While all these were happening to our fellow citizens of the Hindu faith, what did we, as Christians do to empathise with them.

Most of us continued to go about our daily routine oblivious of the problems faced by those around us. We even attended Sunday service as though nothing had happened.”

I fail to understand what does attending Sunday Service has to do with what happened. Does the learned doctor mean we should all have been with our Hindu brothers fighting alongside them rather that exercising our legitimate right to attend Sunday Service/Mass?

How can he say that we were totally indifferent to the feelings of those in pain around us; How can he say that we are no different from the enforcement officers who unjustly inflicted pain and suffering to fellow humans, just because we chose to attend Sunday Service.

This is not the first time that the learned doctor has ridiculed Catholics and their rituals and practices. In previous letters to the HERALD he has questioned why only Catholics can receive “Holy Communion”. No local Catholic Bishop came forward to offer an explanation or defend the Eucharist, but due to the deluge of replies to his ridiculous attempt to “put down” this practice, he changed his tune fast.

He has also in his letters to the HERALD “put down” the practices of Catholics/Christians and has described Catholics as “obsessed with prayer and indifferent to the sufferings of our neighbours”.

Quote:“Unfortunately today our Catholic priests are increasingly seen as mere administrators of church rituals, which by themselves without a real concern for the condition of the human heart, serve no purpose as it is devoid of substance and love.” Unquote

Why is there no Bishop coming forward to reply to Dr Chris Anthony’s ridiculous silly statements? Why do our Bishops readily defend the rights of other religions but are ‘Stone Silent’ when this learned doctor ridicules and undermines Catholic religious practices?

Burnard Anthony Faleel
Subang Jaya