Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Truthful Speech In Parliament from Unexpected Quarters

On the morning of 30th April as I was driving to work, I prayed to God for several things to be raised during the nation's historic 12th parliamentary session: The end of corruption, the restoration of the independence of the judiciary and the removal of unjust laws that infringe on the basic rights of all law-abiding citizens.

When I read the headlines in the two mainstream media the next day, I was at first sorely disappointed that the session was marred by disputes over points of order and name calling between the two parties.

Didn't God answer my prayers as He usually does? Reading further (and we need to look hard for the real news buried in the manistream media though less so with the new media), I was surprised to see that Ong Ka Ting made a terrific speech about the one of the most important issues that turned the heavens against this nation's administrators: that is the unfair subjection of non-muslims (former converts or either parents who converted) against their free will to Shariah laws versus civil laws in several cases in recent years. This was the speech I expected the Opposition to give as the most powerful attack against the government, who is ultimately responsible for the erosion of religious freedom and rights as enshrined in the constitution.
I can see why Ong is motivated to stand up forcefully for the religious rights of the non-muslims, perhaps for the first time in his career. Let us now see whether he or the other MCA leaders will pursue these important issues that are dear to the hearts of many worshippers in this great country.
However, a speech will remain a mere speech unless it is followed up by committed action. He certainly has stolen the thunder from the opposition while BN and PR were entangled in a war of words.

If MPs like Ong can continue to stand up for the people regardless of partisan political affiliations, my prediction for Malaysia in the next six months is that we will have a new era of political language. And the Rakyat and God will be the judge as to whether these reformist impulses are sincere and effective in protecting citizens from unjust laws and a unfair judiciary.

The best line from the new cartoon film Horton is: "A person is a person, no matter how small." Can Malaysia live up to the principle of equal rights for all citizens or are some persons more important than others because of their colour, their politics or their religion?

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