The government’s move to impose conditions on religious practices such as the use of the Malay version bible shows us that the path towards a civilised, sincere, and honest dialogue of reason and faith is an uphill battle, observes Ronald Benjamin.
The Malaysian Government’s decision to stamp a home ministry seal and serial number on the Malay version of the Bible reveals that the Government is losing a sense of decency and civilised behavior toward Malaysians of Christian faith.
This act attests to my scepticism towards the 1Malaysia slogan. On the one hand, 1Malaysia is beginning to lose its credibility due to overbearing deceptive public relations exercises. On the other hand, it is failing its stress test on issues of great universal significance such as the freedom of religion. It is a political conceptualisation that can be seen as a mere electoral strategy to win back lost votes.
Freedom of religion is not merely the right to freely practise a religion; it also involves the dignified right of individuals to search for spiritual truths and the meaning of life without restriction and boundaries. To search for truth and make decisions about faith is a fundamental human right.
In contrast, to rationalise reasons through selective historical events would be counter productive. This is because we live in a complex world where individuals with various degrees of cultural upbringing and thought patterns are decision makers of their own destiny. People cannot be forced into submission into any ideological or religious affinity especially if it is related to personal faith and freedom to practise one’s own religion.
Najib’s administration has little sense of conscience in respecting multiculturalism such as different religious practices, cultures, and histories. In the Malaysian context, the beauty of its multicultural and multi-religious society has been diluted to ethno-religious ideological dominance and a certain political construct by vested interest parties.
The government’s move to impose conditions on religious practices such as the use of the Malay version bible shows us that the path towards a civilised, sincere, and honest dialogue of reason and faith is an uphill battle.
The resolution of religious disputes will only take place when faith and reason are connected, where the golden rule of doing unto others what you want done unto you is practised. It is hoped that an amicable solution to this crisis could be found with humility and reason.
Ronald Benjamin is an Aliran member based in Ipoh