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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kg.Rawa Incident -Follow up on Robinson's lament .

I refer to the comment by Robinson where he says :
  • Another incident is the Kampung Rawa incident where the local Hindus were harrassed by Muslims because the temple bells rang out loudly that it interfered with their prayers,they were so agitated that they resorted to rioting, 2000 people gathered in the mosque to go on a jihad against the local Hindus.
  • How many times have non Muslims resorted to violence whenever the azan interrupts their religious activities?
I would like to ask whether Robinson was there in Penang during the incident or speaking based upon what he has read or learned from others who were also not there?

Many folks speak about the Kg.Rawa incident without actually knowing the truth as to what was the root cause and consequential events that led to the confrontation between the Muslims and the Indian Hindus of Penang back then in 1998.

Instead of getting worked up for nothing, it is better for such folks to learn the truth of the matter.

I was there in Penang during the turn of events and can share with you as to what really took place?

But before that, I would like to ask that you read what the Malaysian Parliament has to say about the case? The relevant pages are from page 47 to 51.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

USUL MENANGGUHKAN MESYUARAT DI BAWAH PERATURAN MESYUARAT 18(1)

Pergaduhan Dan Ketegangan Antara Agama di Pulau Pinang
3.35 ptg.

Tuan Haji Nik Mohd. Amar bin Haji Nik Abdullah [Pengkalan Chepa]:

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya mohon izin untuk mengemukakan Usul menangguhkan Majlis Mesyuarat di bawah Peraturan 18(1) bagi membincangkan isu pergaduhan dan ketegangan antara agama di Pulau Pinang.

Dengan hormat takzim saya merujuk perkara atas, bahawa Dewan ini membenarkan Yang Berhormat Tuan Haji Nik Mohd. Amar bin Haji Nik Abdullah, Ahli Parlimen Pengkalan Chepa mengemukakan Usul, perkara tertentu, berkepentingan orang ramai dan berkehendak disegerakan di bawah Peraturan 18(1), supaya Majlis Mesyuarat ini ditangguhkan bagi membincangkan isu pergaduhan dan ketegangan antara agama di Pulau Pinang.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, terlebih dahulu saya ingin memberikan ingatan kepada semua pihak bahawa Usul di bawah Peraturan 18(1) ini ditimbulkan atas rasa kesedaran dan tanggungjawab kita sebagai rakyat negara ini untuk memelihara keharmonian, keamanan dan kemakmuran negara berlandaskan dasar dan pentadbiran yang bersih, cekap dan amanah, di samping menjunjung kedaulatan Allah S.W.T. berdasarkan tuntutan konsep Uluhiyah dan Rububiyah Allah S.W.T.

Bertolak dari asas ini, saya ingin menyatakan bahawa sikap kita tentang toleransi kehidupan beragama yang sedia ada dalam negara ini perlu dilihat dan dipelihara berdasarkan tiga faktor asasi, iaitu :
  1. momentum sejarah,
  2. akar umbi budaya warga asal negara ini dan
  3. kedudukan Islam sebagai Agama Persekutuan seperti yang tercatat dalam Perlembagaan negara.

Sesuai dengan hakikat ini, tanpa menafikan kebebasan mengamalkan agama masing-masing bagi setiap rakyat dan penduduk Malaysia, saya kira tidak ada sebab mengapa negara kita yang dikatakan sudah 40 tahun merdeka tidak mampu untuk membentuk identiti sendiri berdasarkan ketiga-tiga faktor di atas?

Suka saya tegaskan bahawa dalam membangkitkan isu ini, saya tidak mempunyai niat untuk menyekat amalan beragama bagi mana-mana pihak yang bukan beragama Islam.

Walau bagaimanapun, saya melihat sikap overzealous atau semangat yang berlebihan kalau pun tidak dapat dikatakan sebagai taksub atau fanatik keagamaan di kalangan para penganut agama Hindu di negara ini sehingga membina kuil di merata tempat tanpa kebenaran pihak berkuasa tempatan, telah menimbulkan anarki dan kemaharajalelaan dan menafikan identiti perdana kehidupan beragama di negara ini.

Sikap ini akhirnya mencetuskan pertembungan dan permusuhan yang sepatutnya tidak berlaku.

Hujah saya ini yang menekankan perlunya kebijaksanaan dan ketegasan pentadbiran tidak bertentangan dengan pandangan Yang Amat Berhormat Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang sendiri.

Izinkan saya petik sedikit kenyataan rasmi beliau:

"Pada beberapa hari kebelakangan ini, keadaan tegang telah timbul dan kian meningkat dalam kawasan sekeliling Masjid Kampung Rawa, Sungai Pinang dan Kuil Hindu yang dibina dan
dibesarkan tanpa keizinan pihak berkuasa dan tuan tanah. (Lot 931, 932, 933 dan 510 milik syarikat Cina).

2. Atas sebab-sebab keselamatan bagi semua pihak dan atas nasihat pihak Polis, Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang telah memutuskan untuk memagar dan menutup halaman kuil tersebut dan tidak membenarkan sesiapa pun memasuki halaman kuil itu.

3. Pihak Kuil telah memohon tapak kekal dan bersedia berpindah. Kerajaan membantu memindahkan kuil tersebut ke satu tapak yang kekal yang sesuai secepat mungkin.”

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, setiap pihak yang cintakan keamanan pasti berasa sedih dan dukacita di atas tragedi pergaduhan agama di Kampung Rawa itu.

Tragedi ini sebenarnya boleh dielakkan jika:

(i) Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang bertindak segera, iaitu sewaktu didirikan patung sahaja, bukan menunggu sehingga terdirinya 4 buah kuil sudah sedia ada di sekitar kawasan berkenaan;

(ii) perspektif mengenai toleransi beragama seperti yang dijelaskan di atas benar -benar difahami dan dihormati oleh pihak bukan Islam;

(iii) peranan institusi seperti IKIM, YADIM, JAKIM dan sebagainya dalam menyebarluaskan gambaran Islam sebenar dan dilaksanakan secara berkesan, bukan sebaliknya
menyebarluaskan Islam ala-Amerika atau Islam ala-Orientalis untuk mengambil hati kuasa-kuasa besar dan memikat pelabur asing tanpa memikirkan akibat dari sikap tersebut;

(iv) pemerintah menghalang pihak bukan Islam bersikap 'overzealous’ dengan menggubal undang-undang sekatan dan pengembangan agama bukan Islam terhadap masyarakat Islam;

(v) menubuhkan Jawatankuasa Penyiasat Bebas mengenai tragedi pergaduhan dan ketegangan agama yang berlaku di Pulau Pinang dan memperakukan syor-syor untuk digunapakai dalam menentukan dasar-dasar toleransi keagamaan di negara ini pada masa yang akan datang.

Justeru itu, Tuan Yang di -Pertua, sekali lagi saya tegaskan tanpa sebarang ‘ulterior motives’, Usul ini tertentu, berkepentingan umum dan perlu disegerakan.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Tuan Ong Tee Keat]:

Ahli-ahli Yang Berhormat, saya telah menerima satu Pemberitahu Usul di bawah Peraturan
Mesyuarat 18(1) daripada Ahli Yang Berhormat dari Pengkalan Chepa pada 31 Mac 1998 jam 1.50 tengah hari.

Teks Usul itu adalah seperti yang dibacakan tadi oleh Yang Berhormat yang berkenaan.

Bagi membolehkan perkara ini dipertimbangkan oleh Majlis Mesyuarat hari ini, saya sebagai Yang di-Pertua hendaklah berpuas hati bahawa perkara yang dibangkitkan oleh Yang Berhormat itu memenuhi tiga syarat.

Syarat yang pertama ialah bahawa perkara itu adalah perkara yang tertentu.
Syarat yang kedua ianya adalah bagi kepentingan orang ramai, dan syarat yang ketiga ia berkehendak disegerakan.

Saya telah meneliti perkara ini dan saya dapati bahawa perkara ini adalah perkara yang tertentu dan ianya adalah bagi kepentingan orang ramai.

Namun demikian, pada fikiran saya perkara ini tidak perlu disegerakan.

Mengikut Usul ini, perkara ini telah pun selesai di atas nasihat polis dan Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang dan pihak Kuil pun telah bersedia untuk berpindah dan memohon tapak lain.

Kerajaan negeri pula bersetuju membantu memindahkan Kuil yang tersebut kepada satu tapak yang kekal secepat mungkin.

Yang demikian, keadaan di Pulau Pinang hasil dari tindakan ini, sekarang telah dapat dibendung dan perkara ini tidak perlu dibahaskan lagi.

Selain daripada itu, Usul ini lebih merupakan satu ucapan merayu kesemua kaum di negara kita hidup menghormati di antara satu sama lain.

Oleh yang demikian, saya menolak Usul ini.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is what our Malaysian Parliament decided upon the case.

Imagine the scenario. First and foremost, the temple in question was built illegally by certain quarters from the Indian Hindu squatters there at the privately owned land belonging to a Chinese.

The temple started off as a small shrine in front of an Indian squatter family's home and came into being many years later than the existing authorized Surau Kampong Rawa which was upgraded into a gazetted Masjid with the authorities.

The close proximity of the illegal shrine which was slowly built up into a temple by its squatter builders was only about 20 to 30 metres away from the Masjid Kampong Rawa.

From what I heard directly from the Malay villagers living there, that illegal shrine turned Hindu temple was a front for the Indian drug dealers who just did as they pleased and created an unsafe environment for the villagers as a result of their wheeling and dealings there and they were becoming a nuisance when their suppliers and drug addict customers started to ride their noisy motorcycles in and out of the area at all odd hours especially in the wee hours of the night.

The noise pollution from the drug dealing activities was already driving the villagers nuts because of the way the couldn't care less drug dealers went about their business.

This was already becoming a problem for the villagers and they were slowly but surely getting exasperated and pissed off at such unwelcome criminal activities there as a result of the emergence of that illegally expanded temple from being a small squatter family shrine of the Indian squatter family.

Another resulting problem for the villagers there was the influx of drug addicts who started converging at the illegal temple to get their supplies and their fix.

Thefts were becoming rampant and the villagers were getting more incensed by such drug dealers and addicts messing up their place and after losing their items and properties to the thieves.

Now, the illegal temple had been built up to such an extent that they had engaged contractors to build the temple with concrete and pillars complete with domes and the usual layout of a hindu temple ...only thing was that they had no permission to build that temple and the drug dealers never bothered to go ask permission from the land owner and simply did as they pleased.

The problem started escalating when they installed a large temple bell and brought in priests from India who started to carry out the usual Hindu rites and clanged the bells loudly and consequtively coinciding with the main prayer times of the existing officially gazetted Masjid Kampong Rawa!

The clanging of the bells during the major prayer times of the Muslims congregating at the masjid caused many of the Muslim villagers to start getting affected and disturbed the peace and tranquility that they have had all these while during prayers until the emergence of that illegal temple.

The aggrieved villagers started losing their patience when the drug dealing problem added on to their heartaches caused by the disturbance created by the loud clanging bells came to a peak when crime started to skyrocket there caused by the rampant thievery by drug addicts converging there for their supplies from the drug dealers based from the temple.

I first came to know about the problem when I read a poster from the Administration Committe of the Masjid Kampong Rawa asking us Muslims to help them out by showing up for the Friday prayers there in force and after that to stage a demonstration to show our objections about the offending illegal temple's existence too close to the masjid for comfort!

The poster from the Masjid Kampong Rawa authorities which called for support from Muslims in Penang to help raise a protest against the existence of the illegal temple ended up being scanned and posted in the internet and this call was answered by concerned Muslims by turning up at the Masjid Kampong Rawa to listen to the aggrieved Muslims there and slowly the attending number of concerned Muslims started to grow from day to day.

The MPPP had already received news and complaints from the people of Kampong Rawa and they failed to respond to the matter in as prompt a manner as needed.

Usual government department red tape and official bureaucracy was the order of the day and people were getting more angry as a result!

As expected, news about the problem spread like wildfire through the internet and Muslims started to turn up in force at the masjid to show their support as this concerned the religious wellbeing of their fellow Muslims of Kampong Rawa.

As an active Da'ee of the Masjid Kapitan Keling Masjid, I and my colleagues were there to do our bit.

I met Ustaz Asri Zainal Abidin @ the current Mufti of Perlis there as well and many prominent Muslim leaders who turned up to try solve the problems.

Many Muslim lawyers also were there to try and settle the problem but its not easy to dislodge a well established drug dealing syndicate from their illegal temple base for they were making good money from their drug dealings there and won't budge.

Religious sentiments started to be fanned by both parties and gradually the situation there started getting too hot to handle.

The number of Muslims turning up at Kampong Rawa was something that I have never ever seen before in my life.

There were Muslims coming from all over the Peninsular after getting wind of the problem and the atmosphere was just tingling with electricity so to speak from the religious fervor and spirit of Muslim Brotherhood which transcended all political beliefs.

I saw UMNO diehards sit together with PAS strong supporters, Tabligh Jamaat members having drinks with Arqam brothers, in fact at that moment in time, all Muslims morphed into one solid mass of 'Ikhwanul Muslimin' that it brought tears to my eyes and I felt so glad to see all that take place right before me!

The problem united the Muslims as one and to this date, I have yet to see a similar gathering save for the one held by PEMBELA at the Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan relating to the Lina Joy apostasy issue.

I had been there at every gathering and saw all that took place with my own eyes. I worked as a Jewellery Sales Executive at Berkat Jewellers opposite the Masjid Kapitan Keling.

I was familiar with several policemen from the Balai Polis Central, Georgetown, Penang who used to come to sign the police anti-crime foot patrol record book at our shop.

They became my friends and we came to know each other well.

These police friends of mine happened to be ordered to be there at the Kampong Rawa conflict area and they had to form a human chain to prevent overzealous folks from breaking through the now fenced off entrance to the illegal temple.

I was there during one incident when the Muslims were just raging to go destroy the temple structure and my police friends were all there was between some of those totally worked up individuals who were about to lynch the policemen who were stopping them from getting rid of the temple right there and then!

Those who know me will vouch for my readiness to jump right in and take control of any volatile situations and I did just that in saving my police friends from the Balai Central that day!

I know that folks were getting worked up due to the sluggish manner by which the MPPP were dragging their feet in demolishing the structure and also to the Hindus raging emotions as well who were gathering in large numbers along the Hindu majority quarters at Lines Road, just a stone's throw away opposite Kampong Rawa.

Rumours fuelled by lies and raging passions and emotional outbursts added to the tinderbox volatile situation there and the arrival of large numbers of FRU trucks and anti-riot police personnel from the mainland added to the dangerous level of agitated Hindus and Muslims ready to fight it out!

...to be continued.