Saturday, 24 January 2009

Bornean Leader Speaking Out: Leave Allah alone for Christ's sake, appeals Dompok

Leave Allah alone for Christ's sake, appeals Dompok

Joe Fernandez Jan 24, 09 1:13pm

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Bernard Dompok, who isn’t known for mincing his words, opines that the Herald has the right to use the word Allah in its Malay pages until the court rules otherwise.
The Herald is a Roman Catholic weekly with a circulation of 14,000 and publishes in Malay, English, Tamil and Chinese. About half the country’s estimated two million Christians, largely in Sabah and Sarawak, are Roman Catholics.
“It is not for the Home Ministry to pre-empt the decision of the court,” said Dompok, also the president of the United Pasok Momogun Kadazan-Dusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), in Kota Kinabalu on a return visit for Chinese New Year. “I understand from the lawyers that the Herald should be allowed to publish as they published before, until the outcome in the court.”
Dompok was commenting on Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s warning in recent days that the Herald’s “(continued) show of defiance (against the Home Minister) could cause conflict and anger among other races in the country”. “If anything happens, then don’t put the blame on us,” continued Syed Hamid who has since “referred the matter to the ministry’s legal unit”.
“If we decide to ban the publication, they will get angry and accuse us of stifling freedom. If a religion decides to show its strength and numerous other actions, I think it’s verging on dangerous territory.”

Wisdom prevailed then
Muslim groups and PAS, the Islamic party, have so far remained silent on the matter. In Islam, according to some scholars, no one should be forbidden from using the word Allah, the chief of all the deities in pre-Islamic times until Prophet Muhammad re-affirmed that there was only Allah and, in the oneness of God, no other deity should be worshipped.
“This matter (Allah) could have come up during the time of Dr Mahathir (former prime minister) but it didn’t because wisdom prevailed,” added Dompok and suggested that Home Ministry officials were out of control despite their political masters having established “clear and correct guidelines in line with known precedents in Malaysia and elsewhere”.
If the question of “confusion among Muslims” is a problem, pointed out Dompok, the Herald is sold only at Roman Catholic churches and has also complied with the Home Ministry’s requirement that every copy of the newspaper be stamped with the Malay word Terhad” (limited edition or restricted).
Dompok deplored “the Home Ministry’s use of strong language against the Herald and its continued harassment of the newspaper” which he described as “needless and only creating further controversy” and asked the ministry’s officials to cease and desist on the matter.
“It was only after the recent Cabinet meeting, during which I brought up the matter, was the Herald given back the right to publish in Malay,” clarified Dompok on the Home Ministry’s initial condition, when renewing the weekly’s publishing permit for this year, that it must not publish in Malay until and unless the court rules on the use of the word Allah in Malay by Christians. “Lately, the Home Ministry has been harassing the Herald to such an extent that they had no choice but to go court on the matter and now we are awaiting the hearing.”
“The Home Ministry need not get worked up over this matter or become kelam kabut (disoriented and confused).” Revisiting familiar territory, Dompok reiterated that the issue before the court is the historical use of the word Allah for God not only among Christians in the country but also among Christians in Indonesia and Arabic-speaking countries, among others.

Other factors in support of the continued use of the word Allah, as cited, include the question of “whose language is Malay”, the status of Malay as the national language, the historical use of language by the people in Borneo, the Rukun Negara (National Philosophy), the letter and spirit behind certain relevant provisions in the Federal Constitution, the rule of law against the arbitrary dictates of the Home Minister, human rights and the democratization of government.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that some people in this country want to even disallow worship in Malay by religions other than Islam,” cried Dompok. “How can that be? Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) does not belong to the Malays – an umbrella term in Malaysia for various ethnic groups – alone. This is the language of all Malaysians. It’s your language and my language.”
“So, I feel if there is continued objection to us using the Malay language in worship, then perhaps it’s time for us to look for a new national language so that there would not be ‘confusion’ among Malaysians.” Malay is the country’s national language, is the main medium of instruction, has a place in the Federal Constitution and is the lingua franca among the great majority of the Christian population as well.

Confused and weakened?

The Malay word Tuhan was used for God until the coming of Islam to Southeast Asia from India about 500 years ago when Allah crept into popular usage but even now is used interchangeably with Tuhan. Apparently, the Home Ministry has no problems with Christians using the word Tuhan for God when using the Malay language but this suggestion has been rejected outright by the faithful who want to defend their right to use the national language unhindered.
In Brunei, the Sultan is still referred to by one of his titles as Seri Begawan (Begawan being the Hindu term for God) and this is also reflected in the name of the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, formerly Brunei Town.
The Home Ministry ostensibly fears that since the al-Quran is almost wholly a re-affirmation of the Old Testament and the Bible, Muslims may “become confused and weakened in their faith” if Christians use the word Allah for God when praying, preaching, writing or speaking in the Malay language even if among themselves. Christian and other non-Muslim groups charge that “not enough credit is being to the Malays for their intelligence”.
Malays, as defined by the Federal Constitution, are not allowed by law to profess any other religion, besides Islam. Malays must also not be seen as “going against Islam”, and this factor alone has often sorely tested the faith of practicing Muslim members of the Judiciary in the past on matters involving faith and sowed widespread public dissatisfaction over court rulings especially on matters that brought the syariah (path of God or Islamic law) into conflict with civil law, secularism and the Federal Constitution.
Source: malaysiakini news and views that matter

Samy Vellue Trying His Hands At Being Malaysian Donald Trump: Muthupalaniappan, you're fired!

Muthupalaniappan, you're fired!

Jan 24, 09 1:16pm

Presidential hopeful M Muthupalaniappan has been sacked from MIC, shattering his dreams to oust long-term president, S Samy Vellu.

However, he has an opportunity to appeal within 14 days of the date of the 'sacked letter', which he received from the party’s disciplinary committee board on Jan 21.

According to the letter, Muthupalaniappan, 68, was sacked after he "contravened the principles of the congress and acted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the Congress".

"The Disciplinary Committee accordingly decided to expel you from membership of the Congress with immediate effect," said committee chairperson G Vadiveloo in the letter.

Muthupalaniappan’s sacking was not an altogether surprising turn of events as the former vice-president and MIC Negeri Sembilan chief has been a vocal critic of his arch-rival Samy Vellu.

Since announcing his intention to contest for the top post, Muthupalaniappan has fired volley after volley of criticism against his former ally who has helmed the party for three decades and has been accused of being responsible for MIC's disastrous showing in the March 2008 general election.

Muthupalaniappan’s criticisms ticked off the party and he was accused of working against the interest of MIC and slapped with a show-cause letter.

However, observers claimed that it could have been an attempt to stop the presidential hopeful from contesting against Samy Vellu as the former could face the likelihood of a suspension, or even expulsion, if found guilty.

In the show-cause letter dated Dec 23 last year, the former MIC vice-president was accused of making baseless allegations against the leadership in an article which appeared in Tamil daily Makkal Osai in November and an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini last month, where among others, he spoke about the closing and formation of MIC branches to serve political aims.

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malaysiakini news and vews that matter

Waduh Bisa Ngomong Bahasa Indonesia: Obama's Indonesian Dazzles at State Dept

January 22, 2009 6:13 PM

ABC News' Kirit Radia Reports: As President Obama worked the rope-line at the State Department Thursday, a State Department staffer named Charles Silver, knowing the President once lived in Indonesia, shouted out, "good afternoon" in the local language.

Obama responded back in what Silver later told ABC News was "very good" Bahasa Indonesian. The two then chatted briefly about the neighborhood Obama once lived in.

When the staffer asked if Obama had lived in the Jakarta neighborhood where embassy staffers live, Obama replied that was for rich people, and he lived in another neighborhood with a similar name, one that Silver said is where the "real people" live.

Silver told ABC News that he has been stationed in Indonesia off and on since 1969. He's currently working in the State Department's Office of Inspector General.

As far back as March 2007, Obama pointed to his years in Indonesia as helping to prepare him for the presidency.

"If I go to Jakarta and address the largest Muslim country on earth, I can say, 'Apa kabar,' -- you know, 'How are you doing?' -- and they can recognize that I understand their common humanity," Obama told the National Jewish Democratic Council during a Washington, D.C. forum.

"That is a strength," he continued, "and it allows me to say things to them that other presidents might not be able to say. And that's part of what's promising, I think, about this presidency."
ABC News' Teddy Davis contributed to this report.
Source: abc News

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Bagaimana Indonesia Melihat Malaysia: Rihanna Dituding PAS Danai Israel

Rihanna Dituding PAS Danai Israel

Kamis, 22 Januari 2009 , 00:05:00

KUALA LUMPUR, (PRLM).- Rihanna disebut-sebut turut berkontribusi menyumbang dana agresi Israel ke Gaza, Palestina. Tuduhan itu dilayangkan oleh Partai Islam Konservatif Malaysia, PAS.
Seperti dikutip dari AFP, Rabu (21/1), konser Nona 'Umbrella' terancam dicekal di Malaysia. Para pembeli tiket konser Rihanna disinyalir memberi kontribusi. Memindahkan aliran dana mata uang lokal Malaysia ke Negeri Paman Sam.
"Disadari atau tidak oleh Rihanna, kami tahu pajak yang Ia bayarkan turut berkontribusi dalam perang di Gaza," tutur Kamaruzaman Mohamad, anggota sayap kanan PAS.
PAS dikenal rajin melayangkan protes keras terhadap segala hal yang berbau Amerika Serikat. Mereka menuduh Negeri Obama itu ikut mendukung Israel.
Rihanna yang sedianya bakal tampil 13 Februari mendatang, tampak harus mengatasi sejumlah sentimen yang menyertai tur musiknya di negeri Jiran tersebut.
Selain tudingan itu, masih ada satu tudingan lain dari PAS. Kamaruzaman bilang, konser yang merupakan rangkaian dari tur Asia Rihanna bertajuk, 'Good Girl Gone Bad' itu adalah bentuk penghinaan. Rihanna dianggap meremehkan artis-artis lokal Malaysia.
Oleh semua sebab itu, pihak yang sudah memberikan izin diadakannya konser tersebut diminta menolak konser artis 20 tahun itu. Sementara sponsor konser Rihanna telah menyatakan, penyanyi kelahiran Barbados tersebut telah setuju untuk mematuhi semua regulasi yang berlaku di Malaysia. (das)
***

Source: Pikiran Rakyat Online

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Ekpansi Universitas Malaysia Ke Indonesia?

Ekspansi Universitas Malaysia ke Indonesia


Oleh Darwis Syahruddin

Universitas Islam Antarbangsa (UIA) Malaysia sudah ancang-ancang untuk melebarkan sayapnya ke Indonesia. Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Manajemen dan Ilmu Komputer (STIMIK) Meridien, Jakarta pun diambil alih untuk di-jadikan basis operasi dari perguruan tinggi yang sudah punya cukup nama di negeri jiran itu. Hitung-hitungan yang dipakai UIA cukup masuk akal. Dari 25.000 orang jumlah mahasiswa UIA, sekitar 400 orang berasal dari Indonesia. Besarnya orang Indonesia yang kuliah di UIA inilah yang kemudian memunculkan gagasan mendirikan perguruan tinggi di Indonesia. Mendengar kabar ini, mungkin tak sedikit orang Indonesia yang sudah ”terbayang-bayang” ingin segera menjadi mahasiswa UIA yang sebentar lagi akan beroperasi di sini. Setumpuk keuntungan sudah dibayangkan. Sudah tarafnya internasional (di antaranya dicirikan dengan penggunaan bahasa Inggris sebagai bahasa pengantar), biayanya relatif bersaing lagi. Dan yang jelas tidak perlu ”merantau” ke Malaysia untuk dapat menjadi mahasiswanya. Biaya hidup pun bisa dihemat, lantaran tetap tinggal di negeri sendiri.Ketika kita merenungkan fenomena di atas dan coba menengok kembali posisi pendidikan tinggi di Indonesia, dengan terpaksa kita pun akan mengatakan bahwa reformasi pendidikan tinggi kita masih jauh dari yang di-ha-rapkan. Dari tahun ke tahun hampir tidak ada fokus bagi institusi pendidikan tinggi nasional untuk memperkuat posisinya dalam persaingan penyiapan kualitas sumber daya manusia Indonesia. Hampir tidak terlihat usaha yang signifikan untuk memperbaiki proses pembelajaran, penelitian, dan usaha membangun kekuatan untuk berkompetisi dengan institusi pendidikan asing. Padahal, sejak beberapa tahun terakhir, pendidikan tinggi asing sudah mengintip pasar di Indonesia. Australia setiap tahun berusaha menawarkan lembaga pendidikan yang bermutu pada warga negara Indonesia. Lalu Malaysia. Negeri yang pernah ”berguru” pada Indonesia soal pendidikan itu, terus menjajakan berbagai keunggulan pendidikan tingginya. Problem KlasikMeminjam ungkapan mantan Mendiknas Malik Fadjar, proses pendidikan kita sekarang cenderung berjalan menjadi mekanis dan tidak lagi mempunyai semangat pedagogis. Padahal, semangat pedagogis itu sangat dibutuhkan untuk memperbaiki mutu pendidikan nasional. Selain itu, persoalan hubungan antara tanggung jawab negara untuk menyelenggarakan pendidikan yang bermutu bagi warga negaranya di satu sisi, dan tanggung jawab institusi pendidikan tinggi nasional pada kualitas lulusannya di sisi lain, belum memperlihatkan kemajuan yang cukup berarti. Akibatnya, tidak ada kesamaan gerak langkah untuk menyelesaikan persoalan peningkatan mutu pendidikan. Memang, tidak sedikit tantangan yang dihadapi lembaga pendidikan tinggi, terutama perguruan tinggi negeri (PTN), yang sedang berusaha mengubah paradigma pengelolaan manajemennya; dari sekadar menunggu instruksi menjadi sebuah lembaga yang mandiri dan memiliki inisiatif serta kebebasan berekspresi mengembangkan bidang keilmuan yang dimilikinya dengan kekuatan anggaran yang dipunyainya. Persoalan ini juga dihadapi oleh PTN yang telah berstatus Badan Hukum Milik Negara (BHMN). Secara hukum, PTN BHMN sudah memiliki kemampuan untuk mandiri dan diperbolehkan melakukan inisiatif bidang keilmuan dan pengelolaan keuangan. Mendiknas dan Direktur Jenderal Pendidikan Tinggi dalam banyak kesempatan juga menaruh harapan besar kepada PTN dengan status BHMN, terutama agar pengelolaannya dilakukan secara kreatif dan penuh inovatif. Akan tetapi, dalam pelaksanaannya ternyata PTN BHMN harus dihadapkan pada berbagai kendala yang justru datang dari pemerintah. Ada ketidakkonsistenan dari aturan pemerintah sendiri. Pelaksanaan aturan yang memuat ketentuan tentang BHMN belum konsisten dengan aturan lainnya yang dianggap masih berlaku. Akibatnya, PTN yang menerapkan model pengelolaan BHMN tidak bisa berbuat banyak. Keluwesan dalam pengelolaan PTN yang diharapkan dari status BHMN masih terkungkung oleh aturan yang berkaitan dengan aspek legal, finansial, dan manajemen sumber daya manusia (SDM). Pasar GlobalPasar global ini tentu saja melahirkan tuntutan-tuntutan baru pada institusi pendidikan. Salah satu pemicu tuntutan itu adalah pencapaian kemajuan teknologi informasi dan komunikasi yang berkembang semakin cepat. Bahkan, telah mengikis batas-batas negara dan membantu menciptakan jaringan internasional. Pasar global jasa pendidikan merupakan kesempatan emas sekaligus tantangan terbesar yang harus dihadapi institusi pendidikan tinggi di masa depan. Pasar ini menciptakan persaingan global. Implikasinya bukan saja dihadapi lembaga pendidikan tinggi, tetapi juga lulusan perguruan tinggi tersebut juga harus bersaing ketat. Mereka harus memperebutkan setiap kesempatan kerja yang ada dengan pesaing yang tidak hanya dari negaranya, tetapi juga internasional. Persoalannya, mampukah institusi pendidikan tinggi kita memenuhi tuntutan pasar global? Mampukah lembaga pendidikan menyediakan layanan yang berkualitas, bisa memberikan nilai tambah pada kalangan bisnis, dan tidak meninggalkan masyarakat setempat. Untuk bisa bertahan hidup, institusi pendidikan harus menunjukkan keunggulannya. Apalagi saat ini penyedia jasa pendidikan tidak hanya dilakukan oleh universitas yang sudah diakreditasi. Institusi kursus swasta yang didirikan oleh kalangan industri, sebutlah seperti Microsoft Certification Course, ijazahnya dapat diakui di seluruh dunia. Ada banyak jalan dengan beragam kemungkinan yang bisa dipergunakan untuk memperbaiki kualifikasi perguruan tinggi nasional. Persoalannya ke depan adalah bagaimana meyakinkan institusi pendidikan tinggi nasional agar tidak selalu terjebak pada kursi menara gading. Bagaimana mendorong universitas untuk selalu dekat dengan stakeholders-nya sehingga lulusannya pun diterima masyarakat. Bagaimana pemerintah membuat sebuah sistem pendidikan nasional yang bisa mendorong munculnya inovasi baru di berbagai bidang keilmuan, memberikan pemecahan pada berbagai soal yang dihadapi bangsa, dan berbuat sesuatu di forum tingkat internasional. Robert B Tucker (2001) mengidentifikasi adanya sepuluh tantangan di abad ini, yaitu kecepatan, kenyamanan (convenience), gelombang generasi (age wave), pilihan, ragam gaya hidup, kompetisi harga (discounting), pertambahan nilai, pelayanan pelanggan, teknologi sebagai andalan, dan jaminan mutu. Penulis adalah pemerhati kebijakan publik, alumnus University of Adelaide, Australia.


Copyright © Sinar Harapan 2008

Isu Istilah Agama: Artikel Fr Stepanus Ilwan Memperlihat Bagaimana Istilah Allah digunakan dalam bahasa Gereja Katolik di Kalimantan Indonesia

Minggu, 18 Januari 2009 , 09:24:00

Yesus Adalah MesiasDasar Paling Kokoh untuk Membangun Dialog Ekumenis Oleh: Fr Stepanus Ilwan, CP

“Kami telah menemukan Mesias” (Yoh 1:41)

ANDREAS setelah menjadi pengikut Yesus mengabarkan kepada saudaranya “kami telah menemukan Mesias” (kata Mesias berasal dari bahasa Ibrani, arti harafiahnya adalah “Yang Terurapi.” Dalam bahasa Yunani Mesias disebut Kristus. Dan tidak menutup kemungkinan bahwa kata Al Masih searti dengan kata Mesias. Silahkan diteliti lebih jauh). Luar biasa! Tanpa ragu-ragu Andreas memproklamasi kebenaran sejati yang menjadi inti pewartaan Kristiani yaitu: Yesus adalah Mesias. Kebenaran ini tidak disimpan lama-lama oleh Andreas. Dia segara mewartakan kebenaran ini kepada Simon. Bahkan, Andreas tidak sekedar mengabarkan bahwa Yesus adalah Mesias. Andreas membawa Simon kepada Yesus. Perjumpaan dengan Yesus membawa kebaruan bagi Simon. Yesus memandang Simon dan menamakannya Kefas atau Petrus (artinya batu karang).
Tindakan Yesus memberi nama baru bagi Simon bukan sekedar mengubah pemanggilan terhadap namanya tetapi sekaligus mengubah Simon menjadi manusia yang dikehendaki Allah. Simon yang akhirnya bernama Petrus itulah kelak menjadi paus pertama (Perspektif Katolik). Di atas batu karang ini, Gereja didirikan dan alam maut tak dapat menguasainya. Petrus si nelayan ikan itu akhirnya menjadi fasilitator Allah untuk menjala umat manusia. Tindakan menjala manusia berarti mengeluarkannya dari lautan dosa yang membunuh dan gelap kepada cahaya matahari dan nafas kehidupan.
Kisah Alkitabiah di atas mendesak kita untuk tidak pernah lelah mewartakan Yesus sebagai Mesias kepada siapa pun yang kita jumpai di muka bumi ini. Kita tidak cukup sekedar memperkenalkan Kristus melalui kata-kata namun harus membawanya kepada Kristus sendiri. Setiap orang yang berjumpa dengan Yesus mau tak mau mengalami perubahan mandalam bagi pribadinya. Tak ada orang yang tidak mengalami perubahan dalam hidupnya setelah berjumpa dengan Kristus.
Di hadapan Kristus orang hanya dihadapkan pada dua pilihan: Menerima atau menolakNya. Mengakui atau menyangkal kemesiasanNya! Ini merupakan sebuah pertaruhan bagi hidup keagamaan manusia. Tak ada jalan abu-abu. Jika kita menolak Kristus maka konsekuensinya kita akan ditolak oleh Kristus kelak. Dan bila kita menerima Kristus maka konsekuensinya kita akan diterima oleh Kristus. Percaya atau tidak percaya pada Kristus merupakan pertaruhan bagi hidup kita.
Yesus adalah Mesias merupakan inti pewartaan Kristiani yang menantang kita. Ini merupakan ajaran iman yang tidak bisa dilunakkan apalagi diblokir. Bila kita menolak bahwa Yesus sebagai Mesias maka kita sebenarnya tidak bisa menyebut diri sebagai orang Kristen. Kita tidak bisa melabuhkan iman kita pada Kristus tanpa mempercayainya secara pasti dan konsisten bahwa Dia adalah Mesias. Yesus adalah Mesias (atau Kristus) adalah harga mati iman kepercayaan Kristen.
Yesus adalah Mesias merupakan keyakinan iman yang diwariskan oleh jemaat Kristen awali/perdana, sangat tua dan sangat Alkitabiah. Gereja Katolik tidak ragu-ragu berseru bahwa Yesus adalah Mesias. Inilah keyakinan iman yang diakui juga tanpa ragu-ragu oleh jemaat Kristen lainnya. Dan inilah keyakinan iman yang tak pernah diragukan lagi sebagai dasar paling kokoh untuk membangun dialog ekumenis. Penulis meyakini bahwa Yesus adalah Mesias merupakan syahadat iman yang paling mudah diterima dan menjadi milik bersama semua Komunitas Kristen (Gereja Katolik Barat dan Timur, Ortodoks, Anglikan dan Persekutuan Jemaat-jemaat Protestan).**
Sumber: Pontianak Post Online
Blogger: Untuk melihat penggunaan istilah-istilah agama Kristian yang hampir sama atau sama dengan istilah-istilah agama Islam di Kalimantan sila click makalah Fr Stepanus Ilwan di atas.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Mahathir Singing His Favourite Frank Sinatra's Song: And Now The End Is Near ...I did it My Way

Agence France-Presse - 1/18/2009 7:25 AM GMT

Malaysian govt faces losing power over graft: Mahathir

Malaysia's coalition government which has ruled for half a century will be dumped at the next elections if it continues to embrace corrupt leaders, former premier Mahathir Mohamad said Sunday.

Mahathir said the Barisan Nasional's crushing defeat in a weekend by-election, which has given the opposition a major boost, was a vote of no confidence in the leadership of outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He warned that deputy premier Najib Razak, who is due to take the top job in March, must not repeat the mistakes of Abdullah, who voters punished in last year's general elections for failing to introduce promised anti-graft reforms.

"I think Najib is not to be blamed for (the by-election loss) but if he continues to elect or support corrupt leaders then I think he will lose the next general election," Mahathir said.

"Leaders who are discredited, who are involved with corruption, are still being chosen as candidates," he said, without naming names.

"If they want to win, get rid of these people."

Mahathir handed over power to Abdullah in 2003, ending more than two decades as premier, but the two quickly fell out and the veteran leader campaigned relentlessly to undermine his successor.

After the March 2008 general elections that produced the Barisan Nasional's worst ever results, with the loss of one third of parliamentary seats and five states to the opposition, Abdullah was forced to agree to stand down.

The opposition's success in snatching a parliamentary seat from the government in the northeastern city of Kuala Terengganu is seen as an indication the coalition has failed to claw back support.

General elections are due to be held by 2013, but the opposition has said the government could call a snap poll this year because it fears its popularity will have fallen even further in several years' time.

Source: MSN News Services

Catholic paper defies Malaysian government ban on 'Allah'

Agence France-Presse - 1/20/2009 7:27 AM GMT

Catholic paper defies Malaysian government ban on 'Allah'

A Catholic newspaper in Malaysia has defied a ban on using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God", in a row with the government which has threatened to close the weekly publication.

The editor of the Herald newspaper, Father Lawrence Andrew, said this week's edition uses the banned word and that he intends to continue doing so until the courts rule on the issue next month.

"We find this restriction on the use of 'Allah' unacceptable when we have been using it as a translation for 'God' for centuries in Malaysia," he told AFP.

Authorities have said the word should only be used by Muslims.

The government last month ordered a ban on the Herald's Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English, Chinese and Tamil.

But after the newspaper warned it would take legal action to overturn the ban, the home ministry backed down and said it could continue publishing as long as it did not use the disputed translation.

"Munshi Abdullah, the father of modern Malay literature, translated the Bible into Malay in 1852 and he also translated 'God' as 'Allah' so there is strong historical proof of what we have been using for centuries," said Andrew.

The Herald, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the disputed word.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in Malaysia where 60 percent of the nation's 27 million people are Muslim Malays.

The rest of the population takes in indigenous tribes as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians, variously practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism among others.

Minority groups complain of increasing "Islamisation" of the country and say their rights are being eroded.

Source: MSN News Sevices

Redistribution of Wealth In Brunei, the Abode of Peace - H.M. Sultan queries zakat distribution and balance



By Azaraimy HH


January 14, 2009 Wednesday



His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, yesterday in a titah queried members of the Islamic Religious Council on the large sum of money from zakat collections yet to be distributed.

The titah was delivered at the opening of the meeting for the Majlis Ugama Islam or Islamic Religious Council at the Legislative Council building.

Pointing to the huge balance, His Majesty asked if it is possible for this money, which in 2004 alone stood at over $200 million, to be distributed because there are apparently people who still need it, especially the poor, and those who are heavily burdened with debt or the al-gharimin.

In Islam, there are six rightful groups or asnaf that can receive the zakat and they include the fakir miskin (poor and needy), tithe collectors, Muallaf (Muslim converts), to redeem slavery, fisabilillah, ibnus sabil and al-gharimin.

The Islamic Religious Council is involved directly in the management of zakat collection in the country.

His Majesty believes that it will be momentous if Brunei can declare itself free of poverty even for a day if the balance of zakat money can be used.

Is it not the principle of zakat to be distributed to the poor or the needy, even if it takes all of it? His Majesty asked at the meeting. He assured that the zakat coffer would never be empty so long as there are Muslims who can contribute.

The Islamic Religious Council holds an immense role in handling all the problems that have religious significance and this role is far reaching.

His Majesty noted that the poor who are among the rightful group, as stipulated, are placed first on the priority list to help them escape from the grip of debt.

His Majesty asked about the position of these people, especially in the "Hukum Zakat" (requirements), who are considered poor and those in debt.

Among the queries raised was whether these people are given the zakat swiftly or if the assistance can be delayed or postponed.

Similarly, can the zakat collection be expanded into some investment or any similar ways, while there still exist people who needed assistance? asked the ruler.

His Majesty pointed to an issue with regards to the balance of zakat collection after distribution, which apparently amounted to a hefty sum. According to a general audit for the 2004 figure, the amount stood at $239,631,073.56.

The monarch asked whether this amount was still available.

Touching again on this huge sum of zakat, His Majesty asked if all the rightful groups, in particular the needy and the al-gahrimin, have been given assistance to a point that there are none left to receive them, which contributed to the huge balance.

If this is the position in Brunei, where after all the groups received their rightful share of zakat adequately leaving behind a hefty balance, His Majesty asked whether the balance can be kept or should this balance be distributed to other remaining groups or to those people who also have the right to it.

His Majesty sought an explanation on the undistributed balance of zakat.

"Has there been a study or has it been taken into account the rise or drop (of value) of the currency, a situation which is happening now as the world is experiencing an economic crisis.

"Who will be held responsible for the devaluation or losses, who can be punished or held responsible for the losses?" His Majesty asked.

Other than focusing on the asnaf (eligible recipients of the zakat) who are poor, His Majesty asked about those who suffer from debt (al-gharimin), in particular the conditions in which they are entitled to receive the zakat.

"Has there been any study on the position of these people who are unable to pay their debt such as those who are unable to pay for the government housing and others such as STKRJ, RPN, Yayasan Housing Scheme and others?" queried His Majesty.

All the while, the share of the al-gharimin group have been given to those who have run into debt on building projects such as the construction of mosques or schools.

In this regard, His Majesty saw the logic in also considering giving the al-gharimin share to those with overdue debt or those who have to borrow because of personal problems.

His Majesty noted that poverty could be eradicated immediately if the balance of zakat is distributed to the poor.

The ruler said that based on the calculation, we can declare the country free from poverty even just for a day. The monarch during the opening of 4th Legislative Council Meeting last year had laid out his vision to bring the nation's poverty level to zero.

Based on the total zakat balance, His Majesty said even if we have around 10,000 poor people or more, it is possible that each head of family could receive around $20,000 each.

His Majesty said there could be concern that the zakat might be over but does this fear have any basis at all.

In His Majesty's view, the zakat is collected for the purpose of distributing it to the rightful groups systematically. There should be no fear whatsoever concerning the zakat money running out so long as there are Muslims and those who are blessed with "rezeki" or income shall always contribute to the zakat.

Source: Borneo Bulletin Online

Di Indonesia: Tionghoa Jangan Apatis pada Politik

Tionghoa Jangan Apatis pada Politik

Senin, 19 Januari 2009 13:07 WIB

Laporan wartawan Kompas Kris R Mada

SURABAYA, SENIN — Orang-orang Tionghoa di Indonesia diimbau jangan lagi apatis terhadap politik. Sikap apatis itu salah satu penyebab tragedi 1998 bisa terjadi. Caleg PAN dari Jawa Timur, Charles Honoris, mengatakan, lama sekali orang Tionghoa tidak berani menyuarakan haknya. Penyaluran hak itu antara lain lewat politik.

"Tionghoa masuk politik amat perlu. Bukan untuk meminta hak lebih. Hanya kesetaraan sebagai warga negara," ujarnya di Surabaya, Senin (19/1).

Praktisi hukum bisnis itu mengatakan, salah satu dampak suara tidak disalurkan adalah tragedi 1998. Tragedi itu antara lain terjadi karena orang Tionghoa masih dianggap orang lain di Indonesia. "Buktikan orang Tionghoa benar-benar bagian dari bangsa ini dengan terlibat di seluruh lini kehidupan. Salah satunya dengan masuk politik," tuturnya.
Kris R Mada
Sumber: Kompas

Blogger: Tentu sekali banyak sebabnya kenapa kaum Tionghoa di negara tetangga apatis terhadap lapangan politik nasional. Mungkin pemerintah Indonesia harus mengakui yang benar berhubung persoalan ini. Pengamatan saya di Kalbar memperlihatkan acap kali berlaku krisis ekonomi di Indonesia kaum Cina menjadi scapegoat atau mangsa yang utama. Harta dan diri mereka menjadi korban dan mangsa kumpulan unjuk rasa. Kata orang Malaysia jari-jari pribumi Indonesia sentiasa menuding ke arah mereka setiap kali Indonesia ditimpa bencana ekonomi. Kenapa mudah sekali berlaku begitu ya? Dalam konflik etnis di Kalbar pada tahun 1999 ramai daripada kaum Tionghoa dari Pontianak pelan-pelan mencari perlindungan di Bandaraya Kuching untuk keselamatan diri dan keluarga. Itu ketika berlaku masalah ekonomi tahun 199oan bagaimana kisahnya semasa krisis politik PKI pada 1960an. Akhirnya Bandaraya Kuching menikmati keuntungan banyak kerana uang dari kaum Tionghua Indonesia banyak yang sudah dilabur atau diinvestasi di negeri saya. Kalau Sarawak punya pemain bulu tangkis Tionghoa seperti Pak Rudy Hartono, Pak Lim Swie King dan Pak Christian Hadinata mungkin anak-anak keturunan Jawa Datuk Sidek dari Banting, Selangor tidak terasa gelaran Datuk seperti arwah ayahanda mereka.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people

By GREGORY CLARK

Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

"Japan girai" — dislike of Japan — is an allergy that seems to afflict many Westerners here. If someone handing out Japanese-language flyers assumes they cannot read Japanese and ignores them, they cry racial discrimination. If they are left sitting alone in a train, they assume that is because the racist Japanese do not want to sit next to foreigners. If someone does sit next to them and tries to speak to them in English, they claim more discrimination, this time because it is assumed they cannot speak Japanese.

Normally these people do little harm. In their gaijin ghettoes they complain about everything from landlords reluctant to rent to foreigners (ignoring justified landlord fear of the damage foreigners can cause) to use of the word "gaijin" (forgetting the way some English speakers use the shorter and sometimes discr iminatory word "foreigner" rather than "foreign national."). A favorite complaint is that Japanese universities discriminate against foreigners. How many Western universities would employ, even as simple language teachers, foreigners who could not speak, write and read the national language?

Recently they have revived the story of how they bravely abolished antiforeigner discrimination from bathhouses in the port town of Otaru in Hokkaido. Since I was closely involved, allow me to throw some extra light on that affair.

An onsen manager who allegedly had earlier been driven to near bankruptcy by badly behaved Russian sailors had decided this time to bar all foreigners from his new enterprise. The activist then filed a suit for mental distress and won ¥3 million in damages. In the Zeit Gist and letter pages of this newspaper, some ha ve criticized these excessively zealous moves by the activists. These critics in turn have been labeled as favoring Nazi-style discrimination and mob rule. Maybe it is ti me to bring some reality to this debate.

Otaru had been playing host to well over 20,000 Russian sailors a year, most arriving in small rust-bucket ships to deliver timber and pick up secondhand cars. I visited the wharves there, and as proof I harbor no anti-Russian feeling let me add that I speak Russian and enjoyed talking to these earthy, rough-hewn people in their own language. Even so, the idea of them demanding freedom to walk into any onsen bathhouse of their choice, especially to a high-class onsen like Yunohana, is absurd.

The antidiscrimination activists say bathhouse managers can solve all problems by barring drunken sailors. But how do you apply a drunk test? And how do you throw out a drunk who has his foot in the door? Besides, drunken behavior is not the only bathhouse problem with these Otaru sailors. I can understand well why regular Japanese customers seeking the quiet Japanese-style camaraderie of the traditional Japanese bathhouse would want to flee an invasion of noisy, bathhouse-ignorant foreig ners. And since it is not possible to bar only Russians, barring all foreigners is the only answer.

The antidiscrimination people point to Japan's acceptance of a U.N. edict banning discrimination on the basis of race. But that edict is broken every time any U.S. organization obeys the affirmative action law demanding preference for blacks and other minorities. Without it, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama would probably not be where he is today.

Malaysia has also ignored it, with its Bumiputra policy of favoring Malays over Chinese and other minorities. There are dozens more examples of societies deciding to favor one group of people over others in order to preserve solidarity or prevent injustices. A large chain of barbershops in Japan has signs saying service is denied to those who do not speak Japanese. Non-Japanese speakers probably cause much less harm to a business than delinquent Russians. But we do not see our activists in action there.

The activists say there should be action to educate Russian sailors in bathhouse behavior. But do we see any of the activists in the friendship societies where worthy Japanese citizens try to ease problems for foreigners living here? Not as far as I know. Presumably close contact with these citizens would also upset their Japan-girai feelings.

In Otaru the obvious answer from the beginning was to create a seamen's club similar to those that exist in many major ports. But here too the activists were very silent. It seems they prefer to move against weak targets where they can gain publicity with a minimum of effort. One result, either of the intensity of their b eliefs or of their self-aggrandizement urges, is the vitriol they pour on those who have criticized their actions.

Sometimes their activism goes beyond even the absurd. Japan has long had a real problem of clever Chinese and Korean criminals taking advantage of Japan' s lack of theft awareness to pick the locks and pockets of unsuspecting citizens. But when the authorities try to raise this problem, they too are accused of antiforeigner discrimination. Even companies advertising pick-proof locks are labeled as discriminators if they mention the Chinese lock-picking problem.

Obviously Japan needs precautions against these theft experts. Many, myself included, dislike the fingerprinting of foreigners at airports. But this too is needed to stop criminally minded foreigners from re-entering Japan after they have been caught and expelled. If anything the authorities are too lenient with these peo ple. (Let me add that I also have no anti-China feeling; I speak Chinese too.)

It is time we admitted that at times the Japanese have the right to discriminate against some foreigners. If they do not, and Japan ends up like our padlocked, mutually suspicious Western societies, we will all be the losers.

Gregory Clark is vice president of Akita International University. A Japanese translation of this article will appear on http://www.gregoryclark.net/.

Source and courtesy: The Japan Times Online
Blogger: The Bumiputra policy that Dr Gregory Clark is referring to in this article is presumably the Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) or the New (baru) Economic (ekonomi) Policy (dasar). The New Economic Policy was officially launched in 1972 with the noble aims of alleviating the social and economic problems of the Malays after Peninsular Malaysia achieved its independence in 1957. It was a policy that was formulated in the aftermath of the tragic May 13 1969 ethnic conflict. The twin objectives of the DEB were: (a) to eradicate poverty amongst the rural Malays; and (b) to restructure the Malaysian society so that jobs or employement in certain economic sectors are no longer identifiable with certain ethnic or racial groups as it used to be during the British colonial era. Although it was aimed at helping Malays and the other native (bumiputera) groups in the Bornean states of Sarawak and Sabah, non-Muslim groups in both the Bornean states later complained of discrimination in the implementation of the policies. In Peninsular Malaysia during the period of Dr Mahathir's rule this economic policy that used to favour the Malays in general finally gave rise to a new politico-cultural phenomenon popularly known as "Cronyism" that finally landed Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim, who was then Mahathir's Deputy Prime Minister, in jail under the Internal Security Act and the famous Anwar Ibrahim's Black Eye. Since that incident there has been a clarion call amongst all Malaysians and most of all amongst enlightened Malays that a new economic policy called the new National Economic Policy should be formulated and implemented to replace the DEB which had been abused to such an extent that it had only benefitted a tiny group of Malay elite (cronies) in Peninsular Malaysia and similar small groups of Malay-Melanau, Bajau-Kadazan-Dusun elite in the Bornean states of Sarawak and Sabah.

Did this report in Bahasa Melayu "PAS temui senjata akhir menjelang hari mengundi" send UMNO to the Terengganu Malays guillotine?

JAN 16 - Menjelang jam-jam terakhir pilihan raya kecil Kuala Terengganu Sabtu ini, dua peristiwa besar berlaku iaitu satu di Shah Alam dan satu lagi di Kuala Terengganu. Di Mahkamah Tinggi Shah Alam, tertuduh kes pembunuhan Altantuya Shariibuu Azilah Hadri berkata, beliau bertindak membantu Abdul Razak Baginda dengan arahan ADC (juru iring polis) kepada Timbalan Perdana Menteri,Dauk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Di Kuala Terengganu pula, Pegawai Pengurus Pilihan raya Kecil Kuala Terenganu Datuk Mat Rozali Kassim meletakkan jawatan.

Beliau berbuat demikian selepas PAS dan PKR membuat bantahan terhadap tindakannya memaksa kakitangan Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu agar jangan mengundi pembangkang jika tidak mahu kehilangan pekerjaan masing-masing.
Dua isu ini dijangka menjadi penentu pilihan raya kecil kali ini kalau kita bercakap soal senjata dan isu terakhir menjelang hari mengundi.

Dalam kes Azilah Hadri, dalam keterangan membela dirinya di mahkamah, Azilah membuat pengakuan bahawa dia diarahkan oleh ADC Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak supaya membantu Abdul Razak Baginda.

Jika benar penyiasatan yang dibuat polis, pertolongan yang dimaksudkan adalah membunuh pihak yang menggangu Razak Baginda iaitu Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Itu fakta yang tidak berapa penting sebenarnya. Fakta yang terlebih penting adalah bagaimana ADC Najib boleh mengarahkan Azilah membantu Razak.

Adakah ADC itu mengarahkan Azilah Hadri tanpa pengetahuan bosnya iaitu Najib. Atau arahan yang dibuat ADC itu atas arahan bosnya pula iaitu Najib.

Perkara ini tidak dapat dielakkan lagi dari diperkatakan. Boleh dikatakan semua rakyat negara ini tertanya-tanya persoalan ini.

Apatah lagi sebelum ini sepupu Altantuya dalam keterangannya di mahkamah yang sama memberitahu Altantuya pernah menunjukkan kepadanya sekeping gambar yang menunjukkan dia (Altantuya) makan bersama dengan Razak dan seorang pemimpin Malaysia bernama Najib Razak.

Di Permatang Pauh, Najib bersumpah dalam sebuah masjid di sana bahawa dia tidak pernah kenal wanita Mongolia ini. Apakah di Kuala Terengganu ini Najib terpaksa sekali lagi bersumpah dalam masjid bahawa dia tidak pernah mengarahkan ADCnya mengarahkan Azilah Hadri 'menguruskan' Altantuya.

Pengundi Kuala Terengganu tentu ternanti-nanti tindakan Najib ini. Kita percaya, Menteri Besar Terengganu Datuk Ahmad Said tidak keberatan untuk membenarkan mana-mana masjid digunakan oleh Najib untuk membuat sumpah ini.

Kalau MB Kelantan yang berlainan parti dengannya boleh dibenarkan untuk menggunakan Masjid Hiliran untuk melancarkan jentera pilihan raya Kelantan bagi membantu calon Pas, takkan dia tidak boleh membenarkan Najib untuk menggunakan mana-mana masjid untuk bersumpah.

Isu kedua yang bakal menjadi senjata terakhir kempen ini adalah perletakan jawatan Datuk Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu Mat Razali Kassim sebagai Pegawai Pengurus Pilihan Raya P036 Kuala Terengganu ini.

Sebelum perletakan jawatan ini, Pas dan PKR telah membuat laporan polis terhadap Razali. Semasa kenyataan awalnya kepada media, Mat Razali menafikan dakwaan Pas dan PKR itu.

PAS juga akan membuat laporan kepada Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) berhubung dakwaan ugutan datuk bandar Kuala Terengganu terhadap kakitangannya itu.Pesuruhjaya parti itu Datuk Mustafa Ali hari ini berkata laporan akan dibuat di pejabat SPR negeri di Wisma Persekutuan.Semalam, tambahnya, pembangkang telah membuat laporan kepada pihak polis berhubung perkara itu.

Laporan polis itu mendakwa Datuk Mat Razali Kassim, yang dilantik pegawai pengurus pilihanraya kecil parlimen tersebut, memberi kata dua supaya mengundi calon BN, Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh.Datuk bandar itu didakwa berbuat demikian kepada lebih kurang 590 kakitangan Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu (MBKT) dalam satu pertemuan di Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman. "Kita ada cukup bukti mereka buat ugutan tersebut kerana kita ada orang yang memberi laporan kepada kita," kata Mustafa (kiri) kepada wartawan di Kuala Terengganu hari ini.

Dalam laporan polisnya, ketua Angkatan Muda PKR Terengganu, Mohd Fariz Musa mendakwa Mat Razali pernah berucap kepada kakitangan MBKT: "kalau berani dan tidak takut dibuang kerja, silalah (sokong pembangkang)".

"Saya memohon pihak polis supaya menyiasat dakwaan bahawa wujud amaran dan ugutan oleh pegawai pengurus pilihanraya Datuk Mat Razali Kassim yang telah memaksa dan mengugut kakitangan bawahannya," tulis Fariz Musa dalam laporan polisnya.

Pengarah Operasi pilihan raya Pas Kuala Terengganu, Datuk Wan Mutalib Embong dalam kenyataannya berkata, pihaknya akan memfailkan bantahan terhadap Mat Razali di mahkamah Kuala Terengganu segera.

Namun belum sempat kes itu difailkan, Mat Razali terlebih dahulu meletakkan jawatan.
Implikasi besar kepada perletakan jawatan Mat Razali adalah terbuktinya dakwaan bahawa pegawai SPR sering berat sebelah selama ini. Ini kerana, pelbagai laporan tentang penyelewengan dan tindakan berat sebelah selama ini tidak pernah diendahkan.

Nampaknya kedatangan Pengerusi baru SPR banyak membawa perubahan penting dalam perjalanan pilihan raya di negara ini. Semasa hari pernamaan calon pilihan raya kecil Kuala Terengganu lagi perkara ini sudah mula dirasai. Ketika hari itu Pas memuji beberapa langkah SPR dalam menguruskan hari pernamaan calon itu.

Perubahan yang berlaku semasa hari pengundian secara pos juga mendapat pujian dari Pas. Pesuruhjaya Pas Terengganu yang juga Ketua Pengarah Pilihan Raya Pas Pusat, Datuk Mustafa Ali dalam sidang medianya memuji langkah membenarkan wakil parti-parti yang bertanding memerhati perjanlanan undi pos.

"Ia satu yang baik walaupun ada lagi langkah yang perlu untuk undi pos ini," kata Mustafa.
Mungkin juga, Pengerusi baru SPR ini mempunyai peranan sehingga Mat Razali meletakkan jawatannya dalam pilihan raya ini.

Namun yang pasti, perletakan jawatan Mat Razali memberi moral besar kepada Pas di saat akhir menjelang pilihan raya kecil Kuala Terengganu. Apatah lagi, kenyataan Azilah akan menyerang tepat jentera kempen BN apabila pengarahnya sendiri, Datuk Seri Najib, terpaksa membela diri.

Source and courtesy: The Malaysian Insider

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