Ignorance not a defence

In law, there is a maxim that states “ignorance of the law is not a defence”

(The magazine story obtained after 2 reporters went undercover and make a mockery of themselves and the notion of tolerance to other religion and fellow Malaysians. Image source: http://asiancorrespondent.com/)

As we all aware, there is this story of two Al Islam magazine Malay Muslim journalists who had infiltrated the Catholic Church to investigate the authenticity of news that there are many young Malays who have apostatized from Islam and attending church services at a church near the Puduraya Terminal, here in Kuala Lumpur. Of course the news turned out to be nothing but false news.

Many protested against this kind infiltration into the church by the two Muslim journalists and feels grossly insulted by their actions where the two Muslims had taken part in the Christian prayer rituals and even taken mass communion by swallowing the wafer offered by the priests which they then had spat out and taken photos which are published along with their expose in the Al Islam Magazine’s May 2009 edition.

Understandably police reports were made and the duo were then investigated under Section 298A (1) of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or prejudicing the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion

Now, what is the other law that forbids someone from doing things that may cause unnecessary apprehension to another community or group of people? It is something that politicians have often called on when religiously sensitive issues are discussed and has warned others with. It is called Sedition Act and Section 3(1) defines among others, to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State or to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia.

Ignorance of the law is not a good defence, so the legal world says. So it was a surprise when I read this:-

Abdul Gani said the actions of the two reporters might have hurt the feelings of the people but he was satisfied that they did not intend to offend anyone and it was an act of sheer ignorance

Malaysia seems to have come out with a new defence for future criminals – “sheer ignorance” and soon they may use this to get away with even murder.

The AG must count his blessing that things did not much uglier. What would have been his response if the Church has decided to have nation wide protest of the uncalled act by these 2 reporters who spat on things considered as sacred by the Catholics? What would have happened if the other group misinterpreted the situation and decided to retaliate in a far more extreme ways?

Still remember the rally allowed to demonstrate on the court’s decision to allow the use of the word “Allah”? We got religion places burned down in the end.

It is easy to say now that nothing had happened and find it easier to sweep things under the carpet but did the AG made a mistake? Did the AG by saying that there is no case due to “sheer ignorance” have sent the wrong signal to potential wrongdoers who in future, out of “sheer ignorance” may intentionally offend and caused unimaginable damages?

The Sun reported:-

The Attorney-General should “appreciate the severity” of the conduct of two reporters of a Malay-language periodical who had allegedly desecrated the holy eucharist of the Catholic church and not dismiss their actions off-hand, said Catholic Lawyers Society, Kuala Lumpur, president Mabel Sabastian.

“Ignorance of the law is no defence in the commission of a crime. The A-G as the guardian of our laws must foremost appreciate the severity of the acts and conducts of the offender, particularly bearing in mind the severity of the issues involved in a multiracial society like ours,” she said.

Sabastian’s statement was in response to the one released yesterday by AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who said he did not give the order to prosecute the two journalists as they had committed the act of out of “sheer ignorance”.

Even if we stand by the AG, what the 2 reporters did if is not considered as unlawful, certainly it cannot be considered as ethical as Khairy Jamaluddin duly noted:-

Writing in his blog today, Khairy condemned the article as “unethical journalism, grounded in both disrespect and ignorance”.

“Everyone involved in the researching, writing and publishing [of] this article should have considered the fact that Muslims already find it offensive when non-Muslims do not observe basic courtesies expected when in a mosque, like taking off shoes and covering heads.

“They should further imagine their own reactions if someone went undercover in their local mosques pretend to worship as a Muslim and made a mockery of congregation prayer,” Khairy wrote.

Some party tries to tone things down by saying that from the Islam point of view, what the 2 reported did was justifiable – that they were trying to find out the truth. Probably but everyone knows that is bullshit.

If you really want to find out the truth, there are better ways to do it. Why need to participate in the ceremony and taint things that are considered as sacred to others? Imagine if same things have happened in other religion places and people found out? How would they feel when they find that what is very sacred to them has been tainted by some reporters working on rumours and for some sensational news?

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, having a cooler heads than the usual religion extremists said although the church would not press for further action against the reporters for now, a public apology would suffice to ease the feelings of the Catholic community. However, he said, that has not been forthcoming.

Will someone grown up and say sorry? If they have the respect for fellow Malaysians and respect for other religion, they should not take too long to say that they are sorry and bring the matter to a permanent closure.

Update 1

TheStar on 07.03.2010 reported “Al-Islam magazine has apologised over a special report last year for “unintentionally hurting the feelings of Christians, particularly Catholics”.  Reverand Murphy said he was pleased with the quick response by the publishers, editors and authors. “We accept their apology and extend our hand in peace. The Catholic community is now at peace following the apology. May God bless our country,” he said”

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(MP Zul in thick of action when Bar Council held interfaith discussion in 2008. Image source: http://just-mythots.blogspot.com)

A rather unbelievable Q&A, in UMNO controlled NST, from PKR’s Zulkifli Noordin – the MP for Kulim Bandar Bharu.

So they needed a candidate and (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim called me up, asking me to contest. I was not even a party member then and we expected to lose. But Anwar gave me money and I went there campaigning, just days before the nomination day. But I won with a 8,000-strong majority.

So here we have an unwilling politicians who was thrust-ed to limelight without choice and thus a sack now from the political party would mean that things will be back to status quo

But sometimes there are events which are not within our control that supersede the programmes, like the issue of the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. It is beyond our expectations and had forced us to take a stand. And that stand has caused political repercussions.

It is wrong for the YB to generalise that ALL non Muslims are happy to be using the word ‘Allah’ and thus justifies the MP to turn it into a ‘Muslim vs Non Muslim’ stand. Mind you that not all non Muslims out there want to use the word ‘Allah’ as we recognise that it is used in Islam and not in our religion.  The majority of them will not use it. The MP therefore should have taken ‘his’ fight against the people who been fighting to use the word ‘Allah’ – a publication that has barely 14,000 copies in circulation.

As to whether the Herald has the right to use the word ‘Allah’ or not, this has been well deliberated by both parties (the Herald and the Government) and decided in the court of law. If so, why can’t the MP wait for the Government’s appeal on the matter? Isn’t the very act of defying the court’s decision itself is contempt of court or at the very least, undermining the court’s decisions?

Their agenda is revolution. In the sense they are changing the very fundamental pillars of the society, like making Islam and other religions equal. The special privileges of the Malays (which are) enshrined in the Federal Constitution, I think they will take it off.

The MP is not only jumping the gun with his wild (and dangerous) assumptions but he is also telling something that will not happen – the disposition of Islam as the main religion in the country and removal of special privileges of the Malays (which will only happen if the Malays themselves decides it so to happen).

The MP is using the court’s decision to allow the use of the word ‘Allah’ by a small minority in this country as a definite attack on the Islam and Malay Rights. If that is not sedition, then I do not know what else it can be. The Herald, to be fair, had never contested the rightful place of Islam and Malay rights in this country, then why does the misguided MP claim it to be otherwise. Can the MP get his facts rights before opening his mouth in public?

I am against it because that (the Constitution) is the pillar of the country.

If the MP truly believes in the Constitution, he will recognise that there is a rule of law in this country and he has to go through the right channels. He can have his say on what he thinks on the issue of the ‘Allah’ but he has not right whatsoever to turn the simple, straightforward issue into something that is not, namely the removal of special privileges of the Malays and the position of Islam.

It is another way of turning Malaysia into a Chinese country. It is a chauvinistic approach and that is what they are doing in Penang anyway. Silently and quietly, they are turning it into another Hong Kong.

The MP may not agree with what DAP is doing but for the sake of keeping the Pakatan Rakyat together, he should either keep silent with his views (since the other members in PKR & PAS are keeping quiet too) or he should just quit (to show that he will not stand around and keep up with the DAP).

By the way, on the Middle Malaysia – since he is not from DAP and was in no way involved in the formulation of the “middle Malaysia” concept, perhaps he should read this first. Why he is too worried about it?

Exactly. I think there are certain elements in Pas who are too engrossed with political achievements that they overlook their fundamental struggle of Islam.

PAS over the years is coming to the limelight in a rather interesting way – they are fighting the case for way of life via an Islamic ways but at the same time, are not too extreme to understand that there many non Muslims living in this country and not all of them agree to live in a strict Islamic lifestyle. They do have their rights enshrined in the Constitutions and this is something PAS have long recognised.

The slogan “PAS untuk semua’ (PAS for all) is not hearsay or wasteful as the slogans such as ‘don’t work for me but work with me’ but it is something more fluid and meaningful in recent years. PAS have long matured.

Unless they come back to their fundamental struggle, I think Pas will be fading out very soon.

Coming from a guy who is too extremists in his views, it will be good if PAS does not take heed of this misguided suggestion. PAS politicians such as MP Khalid Samad is really showing how a moderate views work the best for all Malaysians

But from the macro point of view, for the good of the country, I think it is time for all political parties in Pakatan and Barisan Nasional to sit down and talk. We cannot afford all the bickering during these times of serious economic, security and political crises.

I agree with the MP on this but what about BN? It looks like BN have not really accepted their defects in the last general election. Why then, the on-going covert operations to wrestle back the state of Selangor? They already did the same in Perak and turn the whole state in chaos. If BN accepts their defect without any hard feelings and in respect of the people’s decision, I truly believe that the Government can get down to doing real work. If BN can do that, I am pretty sure the people in PR can do the same.

That is why at this stage, it is better for Pas, PKR and Umno to sit together because we are the main players, the rest are just fringe parties. We must sit down and chart a new dimension for Malaysia, we can make a change and we should, before it is too late.

In other words, are we talking about the Malay unity and screw the rest policy? When will any politicians come to an understanding that at first for things to move forward, Malaysia itself must be united? Charting a new dimension for Malaysia will not work if the minorities are maintained as minorities and understanding  among all Malaysians are not well fostered. Just talks with 2- 3 “main players” won’t do.

But the breaking point was when he said the Non-Muslims Enactment in Selangor was outdated and the Malays were not wise enough then. That is too much. It is insulting.

I guess there is always 2 sides to the story – read MP Khalid Samad’s take on this

So if it is fated that I have to leave Pakatan, I have no regrets at all. I have never dreamt of becoming Yang Berhormat, MP or even a minister. I believe the ‘rezeki’ is with Allah and I’ll survive anyway. But if they decide it is time for me to go, I’ll go. But it does not mean I will quit as politician or MP. Let the people decide at the next general election.

Another potential MP to the BN’s stable. It looks like it, it sound like it but will it be so in reality? If the MP believes that being in PKR is holding him back from being more vocal and determined, then it will be best if he resigns from PKR. I am sure that other than perhaps Anwar, no one is holding him back.

Quite a number of PKR MPs and assemblymen are not the type to say things openly, but when they make a decision, you will be surprised.

PKR since the last general election have been known to have trouble managing it’s politicians as compared to PAS & DAP. 2 PKR frogs was all that was needed to throw the state of Perak into chaos. Perhaps this is just what Anwar needed in order to do a massive house cleaning and get fresh blood into PKR and ultimately PR before the next general election.

Read Also

Bar Council Forum: The Aftermath

Zaid slams PKR over Zul’s case

Strange Case of Zulkifli Noordin

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Cross pattern – a threat to Islam?

Take a good look at the image above. Done? You may want to take a second look. Done? Congratulations, you are now been converted to a Christian.

You say what! You may ask what the hell I am talking about. Well, according to PPIM (Islamic Consumer Association of Malaysia), looking at a cross will convert you to a Christian. Sound ridiculous? This seems to be the case when they made police report against an ice cream manufacturer for adding pattern cross on the biscuits. Yes, of course someone thrown in the argument that small kids eating the ice-cream may be lead to think that cross is a good thing and as such there is a great danger that they might convert to Christians. If you ask me, that is one hell of cock-bull story ever to posted in the name of “religion”.

Look at the picture closely and tell me what comes to your mind. PPIM is highlighting on the cross but what do you think?

If I were a kid, the last thing I want to do is to analyze the various patterns (yes, patterns and not a Christian Cross as argued by the zealots) on biscuits. The first thing I would do is to put it inside my mouth and eat it off. Is looking at the cross make you to be easily converted? The question is – is that weak your faith? Yes, you will say that you referring to kids – who may not be able to judge the facts. For that, I ask you back – where are the parents? Too busy screwing each other? Too busy that they have failed to educate their kids of the real world and the distinction between a pattern and religious symbol?

Come on, it is clear that PPIM is trying hard to be another Taliban in this issue. It would have been a different story if non-halal ingredients have been added to the biscuit. Yes, then I would say PPIM has a strong point and the authority should investigate it (provided if the biscuits have been tagged earlier as halal certified). But no, this has nothing to do with the ingredients but rather the patterns. In this sense, what the hell PPIM (as a consumer association) is trying to achieve by “bogeying” the simple patterns on the biscuits?

Reading through the Muslim consumer website on this issue, other than the fact that there seems to be a “cross” pattern on the biscuit, no one made it very clear as to why this is a big issue or why it is “dangerous” for the Muslim –it is left to the readers to assume things. The zealots at PPIM seem to be harping on the image which is just an ordinary pattern for nothing. Mind you that the biscuit in question is halal to eat. Adding the fuel to the sick joke is the comments from the “concerned Muslims” who blindly agree to argument:-

Tahniah, dan teruskan usaha cemerlang ini! Semoga Allah S.W.T sentiasa bersama kita

(Crude translation: Congratulations and keep up this excellent effort, may Allah S.W.T always be with us)

kita ni umat yang terbesar di malaysia. tapi paling tak kuat. walaubagaimanapun, kita mempunya satu kekuatan yang orang lain tak boleh nafikan iaitu kekuatan kepenggunaan. Wahai sekalian umat islam gunakanlah kuasa kepenggunaan anda. Jadikan ianya satu jihad.

(Crude translation: We are largest religion group in Malaysia but the weakest. Anyway we have the strength that no one can deny, which is consumer power. Use it and make it as a “jihad”)

If your faith is strong and been tested high & low (mind you that God likes to test one’s faith occasionally), looking at a cross will not have any impact on what you believe. You may even walk into a church and stay in it for a day and yet, if your faith is strong and if you truly believe in your God, you will remain strong in your faith. Certainly PPIM is trying to put its influence on those who are weak on their faith and tries hard to be the champion in the name of religion. But have they wondered the kind of damage that being done on their religion? For those who are not familiar with Islam, this stupid act of making police report for something trivial as a cross pattern on a biscuit tend to show the wrong side of the religion.

Islam has been firmly associated with violence no thanks to the September 11 & London bombing incidents and now it seems to be edging on the border of paranoia. The religion (which supposes to be peaceful and fair in nature) is now being used as an excuse for things are dubious and have nothing to do with one’s faith.

Say what; let us assume that the so-called pattern on the biscuit is indeed a secret way to convert Muslims in a large scale. Let us assume that whatever PPIM is doing is good for everyone. So, if PPIM is arguing the patterns as something against Islam, then tell us how Islamic is NEP? Would PPIM make a police report on this too? After all, NEP is also been deemed un-Islamic and so to embrace it, is akin to converting to another religion too (departing from the norms of Islam).

Read the post by Raja Petra on this issue titled “The NEP in the Islamic perspective” before you start championing for the religion. In Islam or any other religion for that matter, the key word here is fairness. So, you make a pattern on a biscuit as a big issue, and then NEP which is a bigger menace should be as well.Otherwise, as we Indians would say – shut your back & mouth and keep quiet.

PPIM, there are better things to do than going after certain patterns on a biscuits.

For more angle on this jokers at PPIM, read also:-

Jeff Ooi’s Truly Malaysia

Lucia Lai’s Those Religious Extremist At It Again

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