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Old 31-08-2010, 03:48 PM
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Police deny arresting Namewee
By Adib Zalkapli

August 31, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR Aug 31 — Johor police denied today that they were arresting song writer Wee Meng Chee over his music video which contains racial slurs.

Johor Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Amer Awal said they were still investigating the case and there has been no plan yet to arrest Wee who is better known as Namewee.

“Not true, not true, we are still investigating his case,” Amer told The Malaysian Insider.

“No such thing,” he added when asked if the police were looking for Namewee yesterday.

Late last night Namewee posted on his Facebook page that policemen in three patrol cars came to his house in Muar to arrest him.

“3 POLICE CARS FINALLY CAME TO MY MUAR HOME TO ARREST ME***** this happened 15 minutes before our 53rd National Day Celebration, YES, I'm still here but for how long more, I don't know ... my beloved MALAYSIA, where is our justice system?! (THIS IS NOT A JOKE),” said Namewee in a message that attracted more than 3,000 comments from Facebook users.

Namewee is under investigation for allegedly producing a seditious music video which was uploaded on YouTube.

The video which contains racial slurs was a reaction to SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra principal Siti Inshah Mansor alleged racist remarks to her pupils.

He removed the video from the video sharing site following public disapproval.

The Taiwanese graduate first made headlines in 2007, after he produced a music video purportedly ridiculing the national anthem and the Islamic call for prayer.

The recent video resulted in calls for government to take stern action against Namewee, including arresting him under the ISA and revoking his citizenship.

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Old 31-08-2010, 03:52 PM
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Less religious tolerance after 53 years

By Boo Su-LynAugust 31, 2010

Leoh says the federal government is not promoting religious tolerance.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Three boys of different races catching fish in the padi fields of Alor Star. This looks like something the late Yasmin Ahmad would have put in a Petronas TV commercial, right?

But for Glad Tidings Petaling Jaya (GTPJ) pastor Rev Dr Vincent Leoh, however, it's a page out of his childhood. Yes, his memories are filled with scenes exactly like this one.

Born on August 25, 1957, Leoh does not remember any issues of racism or religious intolerance popping up during his school-going years in the Sixties or Seventies, compared to the simmering religious tension following the church arson attacks earlier this year.

“I wish I can say that it has changed and there is more religious tolerance now. But I can’t say that,” says Leoh, 53.

“Protecting certain religions wasn’t so obvious then in the Seventies and Eighties. Now, they do it but at the expense of other religions,” he adds.

The pastor notes sadly that there was plenty of religious freedom in schools some three decades ago as there were many Christian Fellowships (CFs). However, such freedom has been curtailed over the years.

“There was a lot of religious freedom in schools and outside of it in the Seventies. But now, there are a lot of rulings against not just Christians but Buddhists and Hindus,” says Leoh.

A controversy broke out last month when two schools in the Klang Valley complained of a crackdown against non-Muslim religious clubs.

SMK SS17 in Subang Jaya claimed that their Buddhist Society and CF were ordered to disband in January last year because they purportedly were not registered with the state education department.

Leoh says the Selangor government is friendlier with church approvals.The state education department had also directed the Klang High School to dissolve its Hindu Club, Buddhist Club and the Christian Union last month.

SMK SS17 has since retracted its ban on the two non-Muslim clubs following a public outcry.

But parents remained dissatisfied and demanded the Education Department repeal a circular dated December 16, 2000, which requires that school clubs, including non-Muslim clubs that are to be set up after the enforcement date, register with the state education department.

“It is the spiritual or religious (education) that will give moral (education) the strength,” says Leoh, adding that he converted to Christianity when he was 18 years old. His family were Buddhists and Taoists.

Leoh explained the journey of his conversion was sparked by a single verse in the Bible.

"I was searching for the truth. It was one verse in the Bible, Philippians 4:13 which says 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'. I wondered who Jesus was. So I searched for Jesus. On January 2, 1975, I went to a church," says Leoh, adding that he later converted on January 27, 1975.

Leoh received his calling to be a pastor just six months after his conversion. "I had a very personal strong encounter with God and discovered that this was his purpose for my life, to serve him and others," adds Leoh.

He then moved to Petaling Jaya in 1977 to study for a diploma in Biblical studies at the Bible College of Malaysia (BCM). His first stint as a pastor was in Penang from 1980 till 1985, after which he went to the United States (US) in August 1985 to further his studies in theology.

Leoh expected a huge airport with glittering lights on his first trip to the United States like the bustling cities of New York and Los Angeles that he had seen in movies. The small-town kid from Alor Star however was shocked to discover a tiny airport at Springfield, Missouri.

"I was surprised. I thought 'this is like the Alor Star airport'!" says Leoh, adding that the small town was nothing like the Big Apple pictured in movies.

Upon Leoh's return from the United States in 1991, he was impressed to see the development of new infrastructure like the Twin Towers, the Penang bridge and the Plus highway.

"I thought 'Wow. Not bad'. There was some progress, something to be proud about," says Leoh.

During his stay in the US, however, Leoh was shocked when he heard about the arrest of a pastor during the infamous Operasi Lalang in October 1987.

“I was not in the country. But I was shocked to hear about it. There was a pastor who was arrested,” says Leoh.

Leoh had the small town feel even in the US.The massive crackdown on opposition leaders and social activists saw the arrest of 106 people under the Internal Security Act (ISA), including a hawker, rubber tappers, and an insurance agent aside from James Lai Chee Seng who was the pastor of First Baptist Church.

The GTPJ main pastor also notes that there was a brief clampdown in the Eighties on churches operating in shoplots. This was done despite the government approving very limited places of worship for churches in particular, thus forcing them to set up in industrial sites like warehouses.

“When I was pastoring in Penang in 1982 or 1983, we were among the first churches to use a cinema which was Metro Cinema on Jalan Perak,” says Leoh.

Leoh’s current church site in Section 13 used to be a warehouse, although he happily notes that the current Selangor state government recently approved the conversion of the land to religious use.

“It was very fast. Before, it was difficult to even get approved,” says Leoh.

“In church applications for places of worship, now there seems to be fewer problems for churches to get permits and approvals for land or building use, at least in Selangor,” says the GTPJ main pastor, noting that the positive change occurred after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) took over the state in 2008.

“They are addressing the needs of non-Islamic religions,” he adds, pointing out that the Selangor government was even encouraging existing churches to convert their buildings to religious institutions.

Leoh however observes that the federal government pales in comparison in meeting the needs of non-Muslim citizens, such as in places of worship or importing Christian religious literature with the word “Allah”.

“In that sense, it (the federal government) is not promoting religious tolerance,” says Leoh, pointing out that the land available to build churches was still limited while Christians are banned from using the word “Allah” till the issue is resolved in the courts.

Although the Catholic Church won a landmark ruling last New Year’s Eve which allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use the word “Allah” in its publications, the government won a stay of execution, preventing the Church from using the word until the case is dealt with in the Court of Appeal.

Ten churches were attacked in the span of one week following the controversial High Court ruling, where three churches were subjected to arson attacks.
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Old 31-08-2010, 06:59 PM
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Let Penang be a beacon of hope for Merdeka — Lim Guan Eng
August 31, 2010

AUG 31 — As we celebrate our 53rd Merdeka, the country appears more divided than ever by racial, religious and even personal hatred. Fomenting racial and religious intolerance and hatred is now the rule rather than the exception.

The biggest challenge is whether Malaysians can rise above the language of violence used by extremists and fulfil our destiny of Merdeka 53 years ago of a shared society belonging to all and promising prosperity to everyone. Penang is under constant siege and attack by extremists and political foes from BN and Umno who use lies to create tension and division.

Amongst the lies still used is that the Penang state government has banned the Maulidur Rasul procession, banned Pasar Ramadan, replaced the YDP Agong’s name in Friday sermons with the Chief Minister’s name, only evict Malay villagers and traders. Up till today, the state government has not evicted a single Malay or non-Malay household and when enforcement action is taken against traders, only 30 per cent is Malay. Even when eviction is done by private landowners, the state government has also intervened to negotiate a settlement.

It is because our opponents are bankrupt of ideas that they resort to race and religion. Race and religious hatred is the final weapon of the extremists who can not win any debate based on facts and logic or find any weaknesses in PR’s performance.

Their desperation can be shown when the Penang PR government can not be faulted for being corrupt, abuse of power or wasting public funds. None of PR leaders have become rich or own luxury homes. We lived in a moderate lifestyle and travel by economy air wherever we can.

PR has reduced corruption with our CAT governance of Competency, Accountability and Transparency by turning around a projected deficit of RM35 million in 2008 to a record surplus of RM88 million. This was repeated again in 2009 by turning around a projected deficit of RM40 million to a surplus of RM77 million. For the first time in history, Transparency International praised Penang’s CAT governance for fighting corruption.

That is why the state government can afford its senior citizens appreciation programme of annual payout of RM100 to all over 60 years and RM1,000 one-off to beneficiaries of senior citizens which costs nearly RM20 million. That is why the state government can give RM100 water rebate in 2008 to all poor and middle-income households costing nearly RM 20 million. That is why the state government can give money annually to partially-assisted schools of RM 11.3 million. That is why the state government can double the allocation for Islamic affairs to RM 24.3 million in 2010 as compared to RM 13.5 million under BN in 2008.

All these successes in implementing a people-centric government have made our political opponents desperate. They become more desperate when Penang became the first state to ban sports betting(judi bola) after the Federal government issued the licence. Due to Penang’s lead, the Federal government had no choice but to cancel the judi bola licence. Certainly many BN and UMNO leaders must be angered by the cancellation of the judi bola licence because of loss of revenue of hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Penang will forge ahead in establishing the first people’s government in Malaysia that listens to the people, do the people’s work and give hope to the people. We will also remain steadfast in barring sports betting in the state as this is the common aspirations of 1.5 million Penangites regardless of race.

Let Penang be a beacon of hope for Merdeka, democracy, integrity, public morality and a people’s government as well as a symbol of national unity where Penangites live together in harmony and mutual respect.

* Penang 2010 National Day Message By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 31 August 2010.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or newspaper. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
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