Utusan Shameless ‘Report’ on Christians Slammed

Archbishop Slams ‘Irresponsible, Baseless, Provocative’ Reporting

Malaysiakini 8 May 2011 LINK

Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Murphy Nicholas Pakiam, has slammed reports alleging a conspiracy to turn the country into a Christian state.

Describing the reports as “irresponsible, baseless and provocative”, Pakiam demanded that the authorities take action against what it said were quarters that seek to threaten the harmonious, multi-cultural and multi-religious make-up of the country.

A “thorough investigation” into the matter should be made to determine the source of these “insidious, provocative and malicious lies” and take action against those behind it, said Pakiam in a statement.

He was responding to the blog postings, on which an Utusan Malaysia report was based, accusing DAP of colluding with Christian pastors to make Christianity the country’s official religion so that a Christian can become prime minister.
‘We’ve never been treasonous, hateful’
Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi (left) was named in the blog postings as the DAP leader who attended the meeting and joined the prayer session with the pastors, who were reportedly attending a mega-ceramah at the Catholic Christian Centre in Penang on Saturday.

“On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, I would like to categorically refute the allegation that such a meeting had taken place or will take place in a Catholic venue in Penang,

“It is clear that this reporting is baseless and highly irresponsible as the reporters and editors of the above newspaper have not taken any reasonable steps whatsoever to verify the allegations made by anonymous bloggers.

“Furthermore, this report comes after the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), one of the organizers of the above meeting, having refuted the claims of those bloggers and the same was carried on online media.

“The NECF has further clarified that this meeting only covered the topic of ethical leadership and had no treasonous agenda as alleged by the bloggers and news report,” said Pakiam.

Pakiam said Christian authorities teach the community to be God-fearing and law-abiding citizens and conscientious decision-makers “based on justice which is reflective of moral and divine laws.”

Even in the Al-Kitab issue over which the Christian Federation of Malaysia has been in dispute with the government, Church leaders had always reiterated their commitment and readiness “to dialogue and work together with the government” and all parties for a just and reasonable solution.

“It is clear that our position has never been treasonous nor have we advocated hatred, antagonism or animosity towards any religion or groups of persons,” said Pakiam.

“I continue to call upon all Catholics, Christians and all Malaysians to pray, dialogue and work together to strengthen national unity and harmony. May God bless our leaders with a firm vision and the courage and strength to uphold and realise it.”

‘Utusan playing with fire’
Lending his voice in support of Pakiam’s remarks, PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan (right) also described the blog and Utusan reports over the alleged conspiracy as “irresponsible” and potentially destabilising.

“Other than potentially threatening the peace, such speculations are seen as a means of seeking cheap political publicity and (part of) continuous efforts to hide weaknesses and failure in protecting the sanctity of the (Islamic) religion,” said Nasrudin in a statement entitled ‘Utusan playing with fire’.

Nasrudin said it is a well-known fact that Islam is enshrined as the official religion of the federation, with Muslims making up the majority in Malaysia’s pluralistic population.

“For these reasons, Islam should not be in a position of being jeopardised and the Muslims would not allow Islam to be threatened,” he added.

If Islam is indeed perceived as getting weaker, said Nasruin, it was because of Umno’s failure to fulfil the mandate with which it had been entrusted to govern the nation, particularly in protecting religious practices and the people’s welfare.

“If Umno had taken care of (the practice of) Islam well and strengthened it, I believe and am convinced that such speculations (by Utusan) of moves to make Christianity the official religion of the nation would not have arisen.

“At the same time, Muslims would feel at peace and comfortable with practising their religion,” he added.

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Interfaith Chief Says Utusan Report Fans Religious Divide
By Debra Chong
Malaysia Insider 8 May 2011 LINK

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Utusan Malaysia and Muslim groups are fanning a religious divide when they should raise reports of purported attempts at a Christian Malaysia with the Cabinet’s special faith panel, the national interfaith council chief has said.

Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) chief Reverend Thomas Philips said there was a special subcommittee to deal with such “sensitive” matters.

“We already have a Cabinet interfaith committee. They should raise it there. They are fanning this issue out of control. Why do they need to evoke the emotions of people?” he said to The Malaysian Insider, referring to the allegation, which was based entirely on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers and reported today by Malay-language paper, Utusan Malaysia.

Several Muslim organisations lodged police reports after reading a front-page article in the Umno-owned daily titled: “Malaysia, negara Kristian? (Malaysia, a Christian country?).

Philips said the special subcommittee was scheduled to meet next week but that the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

The working committee on seeking an understanding on issues among adherents, under the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Promote Interreligious Understanding and Harmony, was among four subcommittees formed on December 2 last year.

It is jointly helmed by Datuk Mustapha Ma and Reverend Hermen Shastri, and it last met on March 17, though sources told The Malaysian Insider that there was no headway in talks on thorny issues as Muslim representatives had failed to turn up for the meeting.

The MCCBCHST president reaffirmed that the non-Muslim council has made it very clear that nobody was scheming to usurp Islam’s position as Malaysia’s official religion.

“We’ve already made it very clear that nobody is threatening Islam. Nobody can undermine Islam’s position as the official religion because it is in the Federal Constitution.

“We want to uphold the Federal Constitution and we will not do anything to change it and we accept the position of Islam,” Phillips said, repeating the MCCBCHST’s statement reported yesterday.

The Mar Thoma priest also told The Malaysian Insider the Cabinet faith panel was also scheduled to meet with ministers in charge of the committee, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, next week, ostensibly to discuss the replacement for its Cabinet-appointed coordinator, Datuk Ilani Ishak, who died of cancer on February 24.

“But the May 12 meeting has been postponed,” he said, adding that no replacement date has been given.

“If it happens, it happens. What else can we do?” he said.

The heated religious rhetoric from before the April 16 Sarawak election appeared to have died down immediately after, only to flare up again this week as right-wing Malay groups sounded the alarm over the rising popularity of the Chinese-dominant DAP and accused Christians of laying Islam under siege.

The Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela), an umbrella coalition that had filed police reports over the allegations, accused Christians of scheming to draw more and more Muslims into Christianity, which is an illegal act in Malaysia.

Pembela president Dr Yusri Mohamad said the Christian community’s demands over the “Allah” issue as well as the Alkitab row prove that they want to convert Muslims to Christianity.

“We are dealing with aggressive, confrontational groups of Christians.

“Their demands over the Alkitab, kalimah Allah are connected to their attempts to spread Christianity … They are using this strategy to tame Muslims, by using terms that we are familiar with in our own religion,” Yusri said yesterday during a Pembela function here.

The syariah lawyer said these are direct attempts to “compromise the position of Islam” as the country’s official religion.

Utusan Malaysia reported from several blogs whose owners have accused the DAP of sedition in an alleged conspiracy with Christians to change the country’s highest law to put a Christian in place of a Muslim as prime minister.

To back up their allegation, the bloggers pointed to a grainy photograph showing what they described to be a secret pact between the DAP and pastors at a closed-door dinner party in a Penang hotel on Wednesday.

The dinner organisers – made up of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship – have denied the claim as lies, and explained it was to honour several pastors from Sarawak who were in Penang for the Unashamedly Ethical marketplace conference held on Thursday.

“Such fellowship dinners are common amongst Christians and are part and parcel of the Christian custom of love and fellowship,” they said in a statement, which The Malaysian Insider had reported on Friday.

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Anwar Dubs Utusan Shameless ‘Umno Tabloid’ for Christian Malaysia Report LINK
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
Malaysia Insider May 07, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim accused Utusan Malaysia of lying and confusing the public in its report today claiming Christian leaders were conspiring with the DAP to abolish Islam as the country’s official religion in a bid to take over Putrajaya.

In a hard-hitting statement posted on his blog today, Anwar accused the Umno-owned daily of spreading lies and slander, raising concerns that such an article could create further confusion among Malaysians.

“Utusan has way over the line, they have sacrificed their responsibility as media practitioners to bow before their masters. It is a sad day for Malaysians who love peace and justice when they are being force-fed lies and slander,” the PKR de facto leader said.

“The issue of the official religion for the country has become the latest target for the country’s rulers, Utusan has shamelessly twisted facts to confuse people,” explained the opposition leader.

The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) defacto leader said the front page headline of Utusan today proved that the paper was nothing more than an “Umno tabloid” carrying out the orders of its bosses.

“It’s sad to see the newspaper founded by our forefathers who had fought for the country’s freedom chained and shackled by those in power today,” Anwar added.

Utusan had carried out a front-page article today titled “Malaysia, a Christian country?” (Malaysia, negara Kristian?), based entirely on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers.

The bloggers had charged the DAP of sedition for trying to change the country’s laws to enable a Christian to be prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described to be a secret pact between the DAP and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.

The Federal Constitution does not expressly specify race or religious requirements for the position of prime minister. Article 43(2)(a) of the constitution states only that the Yang diPertuan Agong shall appoint as PM a member of parliament who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat.

In a posting headlined “Agong under threat? DAP wants to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia?” blogger Marahku (marahku.blogspot.com) accused DAP of trying to amend the federal constitution to allow a Christian to become prime minister.

“The whole point of changing the official religion is to allow a Christian to become prime minister of this country,” the blogger said.

On bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com, the writer claimed to have received a message that the DAP’s Jeff Ooi had organised a dinner for pastors from Sarawak and overseas at the Red Rock Hotel on Jalan Macalister in Penang.

“Among the activities that night included the 35 pastors taking a group oath. They formed a circle and touched each other’s shoulder and vowed in English to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia and put a Christian Prime Minister in office,” the anonymous writer said in his blog under the headline “Making Christianity the official religion?”

He also pointed to the same grainy picture he posted at the top of his blog page, which he had captioned “Partying pastors or pastors doing the party do and vow to have a Christian as Malaysian Prime Minister”.

The blogger further alleged that the DAP had labelled the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as an “anti-Christ agent” in the run-up to polls in Sarawak, showing the opposition party was “openly against BN on religious grounds and they are now making it their clarion call, their rabble rousing horn”.

The blogger said it was a seditious and religiously-divisive statement that was never investigated by the police “or at least they did not tell us about any investigations on the matter”.

He called on the authorities to investigate the allegations for sedition warning that if the authorities failed in their duty, the country may be “shattered again”.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies and have already denied the bloggers’ allegations last night.

Similarly Ooi said the dinner had been organised by the Christian pastors, in recognition of the DAP team who had visited them while in Sarawak for the state election and that the prayer sessions — one before dinner and one at the end — was a usual part of their worship, and not a pledge as alleged.

In response today, Anwar reiterated PR’s commitment towards upholding Islam as the official religion of the country.

“It has been said before, even an official statement signed by all Pakatan leaders that Islam will still remain the country’s official country even if Pakatan Rakyat takes over federal power,” stressed Anwar.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of attacking PR leaders over various issues even as its owners Umno restarted moves to court PAS to BN.

It is understood its report today has prompted Malay rights group Perkasa to lodge a police complaint later this evening.

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Additional reports from Utusan Malaysia LINK

Malaysia negara Kristian?

Oleh ROKIAH ABDULLAH dan MOHD. KHUZAIRI ISMAIL
pengarang@utusan.com.my

PULAU PINANG 6 Mei – Ahli Parlimen Jelutong, Jeff Ooi menafikan dakwaan kononnya beliau menganjurkan satu majlis pertemuan paderi dari seluruh negara yang didakwa turut membincangkan agenda menjadikan Kristian sebagai agama rasmi Persekutuan sekali gus melantik Perdana Menteri dalam kalangan penganut agama itu.

Menurut wakil rakyat DAP itu, beliau hanya menghadiri majlis kesyukuran yang diadakan secara tertutup untuk paderi-paderi tersebut di sebuah hotel di Jalan Macalister di sini sebagai tetamu.

Majlis pertemuan paderi-paderi berkenaan dan ikrar menjadikan Kristian sebagai agama rasmi Persekutuan didedahkan oleh dua laman blog hari ini iaitu ‘bigdog’ di http://bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com/ menerusi entri bertajuk ‘Making Christianity the official religion? dan blog Marahku di http://marahku.blogspot.com.

Jeff yang ditanya mengenai ikrar itu mendakwa, ketika majlis berlangsung, beliau sibuk ‘melayan’ iPad selain menjamu selera walaupun turut bertafakur semasa paderi-paderi itu berdoa.

“Bukankah berdoa itu suruhan tuhan. Apa yang saya tahu, ‘bigdog’ (penulis blog) tidak sebut nama saya, dia tidak tuduh saya. Kalau mahu tahu lebih lanjut, sila tanya polis Cawangan Khas dan dengar rakaman yang dibuat mereka,” katanya melalui khidmat pesanan ringkas (SMS) kepada Utusan Malaysia di sini hari ini.

Difahamkan, majlis makan malam yang dihadiri lebih 100 paderi Kristian itu diadakan di sebuah hotel di sini semalam yang kemudiannya disusuli dengan beberapa konvensyen hari ini.

Malam ini pula akan diadakan satu majlis di Pusat Kristian (Katolik) Pulau Pinang di sini dan satu ceramah perdana pula dianjurkan esok. Pertemuan itu dikatakan dianjurkan setiap tahun.

Dalam majlis makan malam itu, seramai 35 orang paderi dikatakan berdiri dalam bulatan dan saling berpegangan tangan tanda bersetuju untuk menjadikan Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara Kristian dan mahu Perdana Menteri juga dalam kalangan penganut agama itu.

Sementara itu, tinjauan Utusan Malaysia di hotel yang terletak di Jalan Burmah mendapati persidangan sehari itu yang bermula pukul 8.30 pagi berlangsung di Bilik 2 dan 3, tingkat 7 hotel itu.

Kira-kira 10 meja dan kerusi disusun di luar bilik persidangan yang dikatakan diadakan setiap tahun dengan beberapa rahib dilihat berbual-bual sebelum masing-masing masuk ke dalam bilik persidangan.

Kenyataan Jeff itu bagaimanapun berbeza dengan laporan blog ‘bigdog’ yang mendakwa majlis itu dianjurkan oleh kawasan Parlimen DAP dipercayai Jelutong dan turut dihadiri oleh kira-kira 100 yang lain termasuk wakil rakyat parti itu dari Sarawak dan beberapa pekerja parti.

“Apa yang dilakukan DAP adalah sesuatu yang sangat berbahaya. DAP membawa strategi politik cauvinis mereka ke satu tahap perubahan dan sensitiviti yang sangat tinggi,” dakwa blog berkenaan.

Blog tersebut menambah, sebagai satu komuniti minoriti, cita-cita DAP itu jelas membuktikan mereka cuba bertindak sebagai kaum majoriti.

“Ini merupakan lembaran baru dalam politik yang mana kaum minoriti memainkan peranan sebagai kaum majoriti di samping strategi cauvinis DAP menyemai politik kebencian. Sesuatu yang pasti ia bergerak pada landasan yang sangat berbahaya,” dakwa blog itu.

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