I went to the DAP organized Forum titled 'Malaysia after Lina Joy' at Hotel Armada, Petaling Jaya with MENJ.
MENJ had dinner with me and my missus at Taman Tenaga before adjoining to my place for maghrib prayers and then we left for the forum in MENJ's car.
On our way to the hotel, we took a wrong turn and had to waste a good hour or so and we sort of had an impromptu tour of the Jalan Gasing areas.
For all the hype about the so called religious intolerance in Malaysia and the usual bla bla bla as being plastered over the news in the 'concerned Christian West', we passed by a whole lot of imposing churches every few minutes on our short tour of the area.
Will go take some snaps of the various churches there in the daytime to show the world how very intolerant Malaysia is when it concerns all the other faiths here. As they say, sometimes just talking about things doesn't really get results as much as a visual proof does.
Well, eventually we reached the hotel but were unable to find a parking spot as the whole place including the road curbs were just jammed full of cars.
Go we again on our merry go round looking for space to park our chariot. At last we succeeded getting a space within walking distance to the hotel and we finally arrived at the place.
The forum was being held at Level 3 in one of the ballroom hall. The place was jampacked with people and the Non Muslims were in the majority. There were a scattered few Muslims lounging around outside of the hall for the hall inside was full up.
Seems that we had missed a few of the earlier speakers and when we arrived, the ABIM President Brother Yusri Muhammad was explaining about what Islam has to say about the matter of apostasy, etc.
I took a few shots of the forum and chose to sit near a loudspeaker and managed to record the speeches with my tape recorder.
Every now and then , the people outside would be speaking amongst themselves and there would come out this elderly Chinese guy wearing a red striped t shirt shoo shooing them to keep it down. He was becoming quite a bore and many of the folks outside tried their level best to keep being patient at his trying to be the 'class monitor'. Pathetic fellow, really. His kids must loathe him. Hehehehe.
Anyway, as usual, the speakers took their turns to voice out their thoughts and feelings over the verdict against the apostate by the Federal Court and as usual, the panelists present would raise some points and just make their stand about the matter.
Really hard for me to relay it back to you word for word now but once I have the time, I'd listen to the tape and try to salvage some main points for all to share.
Overall, the forum went well without a hitch. Come question time, some of the forum participants took turns to speak and ask questions or shared their viewpoints about the situation regarding the way they feel things are being handled in this nation especially sensitive matters such as religion and this case of apostasy being referred to the Syariah courts.
If we allowed every Ahmad, Ah Seng, Richard or Samy to just rant on and on, they'd take up the whole bloody night and still not finish yak yakkety yak away! Hence Tony Pua, Mister Moderator would signal the person to cut it short or go straight to the point.
As usual, some folks love the limelight and would rattle away as they please , prompting Tony to ask the person to conclude their speech.
One representative of 'the interfaith group' rattled on about why people cannot do mix marriages here whereas in neighboring countries such as Indonesia , it's no problem?
Sometimes, you just want to laugh out loud at the preposterous ideas such folks come up with and you wonder just what the heck kind of a family is that person vouching for?
A rojak family! Father Muslim, mother Christian, Son Hindu, Daughter Buddhist or freethinker!
Such is the kind of tolerance that fellows like that vouch for. Gobbledegook's if you ask me.
Just because it is an interfaith forum on Lina Joy's case, doesn't mean that folks like that elderly Indian should try to champion his screwed up family ideas.
A few passionate ones stole the show with their raised voices and quoting from the Qur'an or news cuttings and dear ol' Tony would interject and ask the person to please speed it up. :P
MENJ had his turn at the mike and lambasted Lina Joy for 'potong queue'! Hey MENJ! Curi line MG58 ye? Hehehehehe.
Can't remember what else he said but it's all in the tape and I'll update it later here.
Blogger shenyeeaun impressed the crowd with his quoting the Piagam Madinah and also even uttered the Shahadah as an example of how religiously tolerant we should all be and understand each other better and he said it all in fluent Malay!
I was the last person allowed to address the forum and I first and foremost congratulated the DAP for successfully organizing the first ever interfaith dialogue between us Malaysians.
I touched on the matter of Lina Joy not following the proper procedures in going about her case and expressed my stand that she is to be blamed for it. She should have gone to the Syariah courts in the first place instead of trying to do a fast one by going to the civil courts.
I then told the forum that Islam is not a club membership, to sign up and then leave as one pleases. You don't acknowledge God almighty and then turn your back on Him.
Those who want to talk about Islamic matters should first learn the truth about the faith and not just speak as they like without knowing what the heck it is that they are saying?
I then spoke about seeing so many churches over there in Petaling Jaya and asked Uncle Kit about how wrong it is for the people to say that there's no religious tolerance here in Malaysia.
I reminded him about the Jalan Kapitan Keling in Penang where there is a Chinese temple on it's one end, then the Masjid Kapitan Keling, Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple, Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin Temple and a Roman Catholic Church right at it's other end. What religious intolerance are these people talking about?
I ended my speech by asking the DAP to select a larger venue to hold such forums again in the future.
Had many Muslims come shake my hand and get my name cards after that salvo! Just speaking my mind! Glad to have met such dedicated fellow Malaysians!
A few Christians came asking m for my card too and one particular Christian came and shared his dissatisfactions about how the local authorities aren't allowing his church to even do renovations in their own church, etcetera. I shared with him some ideas as to how to go get things done.
Media exposure always helps. A complaint to TV3 might help. We always see overnight results when anything as sensitive as that local authorities trying to show power gets flashed across national tv. Usually within 24 hours. That's the awesome power of the media.
After the forum concluded, we bloggers started to say hi and exchange namecards, take photos , etcetera.
Had an impromptu session with Uncle Kit and the others, where I asked Kit Siang to be cool and steady in Parliament and not lose control when debating with the likes of Samy Vellu, etcetera.
Met Teresa Kok, Politikus, Nathaniel Tan, _earthinc whom I didn't give a hug this time around for the fellow complained last time that Mahaguru58 was a tad too friendly, hehehehe. Also had Nik Elina come say hi to me.
I introduced MENJ to ABIM President Yusri Muhammad and took these pictures here for all to see.
Bloggers Shin, Carbon Copy and Shaarizal Shaarani was there too. Spoke with Ronnie Tan and also Lim Guan Eng.
Overall, it was a good start and everyone went home happy that they came. Thats' it!
Wait for the next one and maybe someone might post a video of this dialogue soon.
This is the DAP counter set up outside of the hall to sell their books, newspapers and stuff.
This is a view of the panelists.
Myself with Yusri. I asked him to organize the next dialogue at ABIM's Anjung Rahmat. Insya Allah.
This is MENJ asking his questions.
Hafiz, Nik Elina, MG58 and Politikus
Yusri Muhammad @ ABIM President with MENJ
MG58, Tony Pua, MENJ, Teresa Kok
The huge crowd
This is the Christian chap who was so happy to chit chat with me and share his church's woes with MG58.
We promised to keep in touch and exchange thoughts through email.
For one thing, this dialogue has given me some new friends and I look forward to the next one.
We Malaysians just need to respect each other and not intrude or interfere in each other's faith.
Then, we will have everlasting peace unless some other case crops up! :P
Anyway, I wish all mankind reading this to appreciate what we have while we have it than lament over this peaceful land if it ever has to witness another race or religious turmoil again.
May Allah Forbid. Ameen.