Thanks to Lainie for emailing me and blogging about this for everyone to know so if you want to have a better clue what it’s all about, check her blog out. I knew one way or another I’m going to have to be involved in this. As much as I try to avoid talking about aspects of religion and especially politics in our country, for the sake of what common sense, this is one issue that no one should avoid talking about.
To date, Malaysia has a media blackout on the highly controversial Article 11. Why is this highly controversial? I haven’t the foggiest clue. But what I do know is that our Prime Minister somehow issued an order that censors all public forums relating to the discussion of Article 11. It kinda reminds me of that ridiculous veto by Bush on embryonic stem cell research on grounds of morality. For those of you unfamiliar with what Article 11 is all about, here is the gist of it:
- No citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.
- Parents (both mother and father) are equal guardians and have equal say in all respects of the upbringing of children.
- Children shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion and in all cases, the interests of children shall be paramount.
- The freedom of thought, conscience and belief for all persons shall be fully respected, guaranteed and protected.
- Every citizen has a responsibility to condemn discrimination and intolerance based on religion or belief
- Every citizen has a responsibility to apply religion or belief in support of human dignity and peace
Now, I’m sitting here completely baffled why such an legal article should be censured by the government and why have people like this jumping up and down over the censure. I think it’s a great piece to be placed in our nation’s laws. Something that says, we’re actually moving foward in time and we don’t need to be scared of the outside world anymore to defend what our own country is made off.
So this gives me two options, either I could talk about how this situation has defied the laws of common sense, or I could give you a reason why I support Article 11 in our country. Being that I’m not an armchair politician nor mind reader into why the goverment did such a thing, I’m sticking to my own reason why I support Article 11. For those of you not from Malaysia, you might be a little lost along the way so bear with me.
I am the result of a mixed marriage. I’m not what you call a pure bred Malay. I am a pure Bumiputra however which gives me same full rights as any other Bumiputras which includes discount benefits in buying cars or houses and what nots. According to Muslim law, I’m supposed to be a Muslim, born from birth without a choice to what I want to believe in. I was educated the same as any other Muslim child, some years learning how to read the Quran and the seggregation of moral and islamic classes in high school between muslim and non-muslim kids.
There was one fundemental difference in my upbringing though that seperated me from most Muslim children at my age. I was educated in a chinese medium prior to attending high school which at the time was pretty tough for me. Yes I was bullied, yes I was picked on by teachers and students alike, but then how is that any different from what we have today even if you’re a normal kid with normal education? The point here is that despite being picked on, I was taught the biggest lesson of all, equality beyond blood, religion and thought. It took both sides a while to come to terms, but when I left primary school, I had friends and teachers that respected me for not what I am, but who I am. Someone that went into the instituition raw and came out with friends and the knowledge that could make a difference to him in the future.
High school was a little different than I expected. Fine, I was picked on again which seems to be the theme in my life thusfar, but one fundemental difference in all this is, I wasn’t welcomed in any group in school. Again, it took me a while to build friends, but the discrimination in public school while subtle is still quite obvious. Other races saw me off as one of the Malays in both race and religion, someone that couldn’t hang out with them because of misconceptions towards a religion prohibits doing the things they would like to do. The Malays saw me as an anomaly, someone who was too open and didn’t really speak our national language that well, someone who took traditional rules and toss them out the window because to him it defied common sense. Long story short, I was outcasted on both sides for differences in both religion and ideology, something that eventually shaped me into the person I am today.
So why do I support Article 11? Because I know you can’t force someone to believe in something you don’t believe in. Because I understand problems that even caused this censure stems from the misrepresentation and misconcetions of both opinions of a belief and ideology for something besides your own. Because I’m sick and tired of having being discriminated not because I’m not a Malay Muslim, but because I am one. Because I’ve experienced while it may take a while of both sides to respect one another, I hope future generations of children won’t grow up facing the same social problems I did.
Xenophobics on any side and any religion, not just those in Islam might not be able to see the whole point here. To give such freedom for an individual to choose from would in their eyes, dilute the purity of whatever they believe in. You can’t fight such fundementalistic thoughts. I’ve tried…God knows I’ve tried for years. But the human ability to seggregate themselves from what they do not understand and dehumanise is just far too much for rational reasoning to break through. You can’t win a war against that kind of stubborness. If we did, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.
So what can I do even if I support Article 11? Nothing. I’m too far away to vote in a system that supports a party rather than individual representatives, I don’t control the higher ups (though that would be cool to roll off my tongue) and telling them that they made a bad choice would be akin to hitting your head against a brick wall and have no idea why. So I won’t do anything.
What I can do is tell you how I feel and why I feel it. The rest of you have make up your own damn minds about the matter and maybe, just maybe, some of you could do something about it that I can’t.