A bad govt represses its good citizens

Steve Oh, CPI

I refer to recent events in Malaysia.

The country is peppered with bad news. Illicit money outflows, the impending conviction of innocent Anwar Ibrahim, the National Feedlot Corporation financial irregularities and so on. Dark clouds are over the horizon.

Yet the message of Christmas is hope for all mankind. That is why the angel could proclaim, ‘Joy to the world…a savior has been born to you.’ And Magi – the three wise Oriental kings came to worship him and place gifts at his feet.

How such a simple message of hope that Christians tell others can be offensive I haven’t the slightest clue, except when I consider the ‘god of this world’ – the devil – wants people not to be reconciled with God as the Scriptures tell us.

How else do we explain the greed and evil, the inexplicable cruelty of the politicians and those in power, they who would be seen to pray and go to religious houses only to act in the unkindest manner?

How can you send planes to bomb and kill innocent civilians along with your enemies? Or how can you justify blowing innocent bystanders to pieces in the name of God? But we know the devil comes to kill and destroy, so guess whose will is being done when people harm one another?

Foremost in our minds is the imminent verdict of Anwar’s sodomy trial, more like an ordeal. When all is considered he had no more chance than Jesus did before Pilate who washed his hands clean of the blood of an innocent man. Whatever the court’s verdict, in the eyes of many Malaysians and foreign observers, they will deem Anwar innocent, the ultimate political sacrificial lamb.

The country can only hope that the judge will do the right thing but don’t hold your breath. If Anwar stood a chance there would have been no trial because the prosecution can’t win when there has been proven to be reasonable doubt and the taint of political conspiracy is too overwhelming.

Sodomy may be a crime but when has anyone been convicted of sodomy? Despite kicking against the goads, Anwar and his defence team have earned our respect for still abiding by the rule of law, even as it appears bent, and subjecting himself to the indignity and injustice.

Spirit of moral conscience

Intrinsic in the message about the birth of Jesus is the hope when people come to their senses and submit to God and allow his Spirit to in-dwell and guide them, they will do the right things though living in a depraved world.

But if they fear man and like Pilate washed his hands clean and did the politically expedient, they will forever bear the scourge of their cowardice and their name will be dragged through slime for many generations.

‘God with us’ is the theme of Christmas and it is worthwhile to remember that whatever our beliefs, we need to learn to live with and care for one another. ‘What good is it for a man to win the world and lose his soul?’ is a piercing question we need to consider even if we devalue our souls. The truth is not subject to our ideas.

Because we criticize those who do wrong does not negate our duty to pray for and love them. And if people don’t believe in prayer then what harm does it do? Even Christopher Hitchens, the noted atheist did not mind people praying for his healing, even his redemption.

And although he thought religion was a bane to society he nonetheless acknowledges that it is an integral part of human society.

Jackboot of religious fascists

By now people should realize that there is something innate in every human being that protests against the lies and untruths and acts of injustice they see around them, regardless of their religion. It is called moral conscience. It is a human and divine attribute to oppose evil and to be civic-minded and to take part in peaceful efforts to right the wrongs in your country.

Only good governance can solve the problem of bad governance for it takes a bad government to repress good citizens who protest for the welfare of their nation. The government made a mistake with Interlok and has tried to remedy it.

Similarly it has made a mistake with the Peaceful Assembly Bill and should redeem itself. The United Nations thinks so too and has criticized the bill. It is too obvious, too crass, too politically motivated, and when tested will be found to be unconstitutional.

TIME magazine has named ‘the protestor,’ as its Person of the Year in 2011 and in so doing indirectly opposes government attempts to stifle legitimate political dissent.

Martin Luther was the original ‘protestor’ who dared prove the religious authorities were wrong. His remonstrance was met with persecution but the world would have been under the jackboots of the religious fascists had the Reformation not taken place.

If true, name the Christian offenders

There is right and wrong protesting.

When a politician harps on Christians proselytizing Muslims in the country, there are two things he can do. Name the organization, provide the proof or zip up. Nothing annoys as much as an alarmist troublemaker crying wolf and protesting over nothing once too often.

Why should society be disrupted by the antics of these subversive creatures whose mission in life it seems is to create trouble for others?

So what if Christians are proselytizing when state-sanctioned Muslim groups are proselytizing everyone?

Which religion has grown by not proselytizing? Why make a fool of yourself by denying others what you claim as your God-given right? Usurping the rights of others that the Constitution gives them makes a person guilty of lawlessness.

Mahatma Gandhi emulated the life of Jesus in his teaching on non-violence and was inspired by Christ’s sayings known as the ‘Beatitudes’ found in Matthew 5 in the New Testament.

Gandhi in turn inspired American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr  to regularize the freedom and equal rights for all black Americans.

Human civilizations progress from the cross-fertilization of ideas and it is wrong to keep Malaysians under a coconut shell. The notion of separate development is so like South Africa’s once damned apartheid.  And if some politicians hold their sway, Malaysia is headed in that downward spiral.