Who’s really responsible for curbs on non-Muslim places of worship?


By P Ramasamy

The BN non-Malay component parties are at their lowest end politically. Given their total subservience to Umno, they are at pains even to clutch at straws to ensure that they remain relevant in Malaysian politics.

No amount of shouting or asking for the resignation of DAP leaders will undo the damage that BN parties such as MCA, Gerakan, MIC and others have done to non-Malays in the country. In short, they have “sold” the interests of non-Malays for posts and lucrative contracts. At the end, non-Malays have been left in a lurch.

The restrictions imposed by the Selangor Town and Country Planning Guidelines should be done away with, as they are an affront to the dignity and well being of non-Muslims in the state. Other states such as Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Perlis have similar guidelines.

While I commend the Selangor State Executive Council member Teng Chang Khim for admitting that he might have unwittingly allowed the new restrictions to slip by, he is not the one who is responsible for the state of affairs in Selangor.

Some ” little napoleons” in Selangor have deliberately allowed the restrictions to be added in the new draft guidelines without being noticed by Teng, who is in charge of non-Muslim affairs in the state.

Let us face the truth: Who is really responsible for this state of affairs in the first place. It was at the federal level that guidelines for restricting non-Muslim places of worship first started. Subsequently, these restrictions were adopted in the BN-controlled states.

My question is what were MCA, MIC and Gerakan doing when these guidelines were first established under the ministry of urban wellbeing, housing and local government? Why didn’t these political parties, which are presently “championing” the cause of the non-Muslims, make an issue at the federal level, in the Cabinet or even in Parliament? Why is the responsibility always on the DAP to take up the concerns of non-Muslims?

Even in the state of Selangor, if we remember, it was under MCA and MIC that Umno found it convenient to place constraints on non-Muslim places of worship. While they are raising a hue and cry over the recent guidelines, they have forgotten that it was they who had allowed the guidelines to be adopted not only in Selangor but also in other BN-controlled states.

Let us not forget that it was the destruction of a temple in Klang in 2007 under the BN Selangor government that ignited the Hindraf movement and saw a major, unprecedented uprising of Indians in Kuala Lumpur.

Compared with the BN government, Selangor and Penang under the PH coalition have done much to protect and advance the legitimate interests of non-Malays. From 2008 onwards, more temples, churches and other non-Muslim places of worship have been established in Selangor and Penang.

In fact, MCA and MIC should not forget that one of the main reasons why states such as Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor fell to Pakatan Rakyat in 2008 was due to the BN government’s discrimination against non-Muslims in the country.

Teng is a gentleman for agreeing to resign for not vetting thoroughly the draft guidelines on non-Muslim places of worship in Selangor. Now the onus is on the state administration to ascertain the civil servants who surreptitiously allowed these guidelines to slip in.

In short, Selangor cannot impose restrictions on non-Muslim places of worship for they are overtly discriminatory in nature.

MCA and MIC are barking up the wrong tree.

P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II Penang.

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