Thursday, November 23, 2006

Miracle turned Tragedy... because of "culprit" - The follow-up

This has got to be one of the most emotional writing I have ever done. Apologies in advance for those who felt offended after reading. But I have to let it out of my chest. I can be patient, but when it trespasses my limit, I must say something already. And when I do, you won't like it.

This write-up has been re-edited to lower the hostility of its contents. I admit, I was fired up by the whole situation, but after a moment of pondering and praying, my anger has cooled down and removed a lotta shit.

Still, some of what remained may still anger some people. So, if you are a sensitive person, under-informed, less concerned about current affairs, or simply have nothing positive to add - please skip this post. You have been warned.

In summary, here's what happened.

In continuation, here's what happened next:
The police have commenced investigation on the origin of the SMS, while various politicians including our PM and deputy PM comments that the culprit be punished. The police have contacted Perak Mufti(Scholar and Cleric of Islam) Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria and celebrity sailor Datuk Azhar Mansor for assistance, as their names are included in the SMS contents. The police stressed that the Mufti is not (directly) involved with the SMS scandal. When Harussani returned from Syria (he attended a meeting there), he immediately went to the Perak Sultan to report the situation. Datuk Azhar once again had the people disputing his Muslim status, though he repeatedly proclaimed that he is still Muslim. Later the Harussani, revealed that on Oct 21 he DID receive a report from a certain 40-year-old unnamed woman about the alleged baptism of 600 Muslims, consisting mostly of students and will be baptised by Datuk Azhar. He also received a visit from the woman and her husband, who came with some documents supporting their claim. He then added that when the couple left, he discussed the matter in a meeting with his fellow committees in a meeting on Nov 2. He said that there will be no action taken until they verify the matter. The police have since published the picture of the woman known only as "Raja Sherina" on the papers, and have finally manage to locate and detain her on Nov 21. The remand has been extend to 5 days to provide the police more time for investigation.

In my opinion, here's what I think:

1) It was known where the SMS originated from:
Like I said, it was known who the "culprit" was in the first place.

2) "Culprit" has an agenda:
This "Raja Sherina" has something in mind. Definitely not a pretty conspiracy. Foolhardy though, as she did not do her homework on finding out the difference between baptism and first holy communion.

3) Datuk Azhar baptise the kids?:
Again, no homework done. Only a priest has the power to baptise. We common parishioners can only forgive sins.

4) No communication at all:
Why can't the authorities or Muslim leaders just call the church? They don't talk to each other no more? Is it forbidden? Do you go to hell for it?
The Mufti has reported to the State Government. So why is the police still in the dark? They don't talk to each other TOO?

5) No investigation:
Why can't they call up the tele-comm centre? It's so easy to track the identity of the SMS sender by looking up the database..... Well OK, maybe it's a little difficult, since it is a prepaid mobile.

6) So who spread the false SMS?:
It cannot be the work of just one couple. She reported to the Mufti, and nothing was done. But that doesn't mean she is the one spreading it. Another bitter fellow may have gone and say "Well, if the Mufti don't do nothin', I will!". A few hundred Muslims and their many religious leaders turn up on that day. The spreading by word-of-mouth and SMS is much stronger than we think. If that woman and her husband alone is punished (if that ever happens at all), they has become the scapegoat. There are many other who are involved have been left walking free.

7) The church is not a club
For the uninformed ones, the Catholic church DO NOT indiscriminately baptise anyone as they like. Especially Muslims. We have to undergo a long period of learning, studying and observation before we can get baptised. (For cradle-Catholics, the parents will do on the infant's behalf.) Even Archbishop Fernandez said that the Catholic Church in Malaysia had never conducted clandestine baptisms of Muslims.

8) To catch the thief, burn the neighbour's house:
If the idea of catching the wrong-doers is to catch them red-handed, do NOT do it at the expense of other's welfare. It is wrong under the civil law, and truly unfair for the non-Muslims. The kids at OLOL church now have a wonderful first holy communion memory thanks to the mob -> We now have white dresses, bouquets of lilies, parents and relatives praying and singing Latin hymms... while the guys outside joins the chorus with loud chants of "La illa ha il Allah! La illa ha il Allah!". Oh Lord.

9) "But we was trying to protect and uphold the Islamic faith"
Gimme a break, so when Muslims do it, it's righteousness, it's jihad, it's for the sake of our faith,...etc. When us non-muslims do it, it's rebellion - end of story. And off to the ISA we go.

10) Go to the Sultan for protection:
First thing to do after returning to Malaysia, is not to do your work and clarify with the press and the police, but go running to the Sultan. He'll save your ass. Yeah, that's the wisest choice, ain't it?

11) Just... do nothing.
"Raja Sherina" came around Oct 21, that's two freakin' weeks from the actual day. Waited 2 weeks doing nothing. Then finally, a few days before the baptism, tells his colleagues in a private meeting, and STILL advised that nothing is done until they verified the SMS. How wise. Thinking this is only a false rumour, so do nothing? This brings me to my next point...

12) Rumour or not, investigate it! And QUICK!
My job is a system administrator, if i hear a complain pertaining to a suspicion of a possible virus attack or hacker activity on the server, I investigate it anyway just to be sure. Even though later i found the suspicion is false, we came up and implemented the necessary security measures in case the real thing happens. It's hard work, but that's what we're paid for. Somebody's got to do the dirty job, in order to make the whole user-experience seem better and transparent to the user. Sound like a good protocol, yes? Now, why can't those lazy brothers do the same?

I am a Catholic, and have lived in Ipoh most of my life. During then, I must have heard a hundred rumours about Muslims converting in churches. This case is definitely not the first time. However, this is the one time that things have gone out of control. One may think that the inclusion of celebrity sailor Datuk Azhar's name is included in the SMS, (plus the previous scandal of his Muslim status) has caused the whole issue to escalate to where it is now. Overall, I am disappointed to see how the whole issue handled in such a nonchalant manner.

Firstly, to be clear, my stand is impartial. I believe, that no matter what faith we embrace, I only know that we must respect other's choices, no matter what they are. All is within the Will of God.

Was going through web forums and blogs on the net. It seems like most people are debating at the wrong direction. They were talking about the right to choose their own religion in Malaysia and about the actions of the mob reflect that of the Muslim terrorists that has been active in the USA and Middle East. There were debates about the Islamic tenet of the Holy War - Jihad. There was even one brother saying that while the action of the mob gathering in front of the church is wrong, he is pleased to see the unity that is achieved among the many sects of political and religious groups.

You know, it doesn't matter if Islam is a one way ticket or not. It doesn't matter if there is fairness achieved. Even the mindless-mob protesting in front of the church in Silibin does not matter one bit. It is not about Muslims and Jihad, Christians and Baptism, unity amongst believers, choice of religion, law on religion, apostasy.... etc. If those with authority do not practice the basics of society governing, and the citizens haven't the slightest civic mind for dialogue before conflict, then there is absolutely no room to talk about religion and stuff. You will only make matters worse.

OK. If we HAVE to debate on it, here's the cold water for you --> we live in this country, and the laws are such. Therefore we have no choice but to abide by it. End of story. Want some change? Fine. Migrate to another country, OR step forward to campaign for your own political party and fight for the right. Can't do either? Then keep your peace.
No need to whine anymore that it's not fair that we cannot choose our faith...blablabla. For the record, Islam can be a beautiful religion. Recently, an old friend of mine have married a Muslim guy (which I would blog about in a separate post), she is Chinese but now has converted. And I know she will be happy. She had told me why she embraced the faith, and it is a really funny and bizarre story. Which brings me to my next point --> Different people have different levels of faith and how they perceive religion. To some, seeing an everyday situation like a stranger helping an old lady cross the street makes them wonder about their faith. To others, they need to hear a loud booming voice in the sky or witness an awesome miracle in order to believe. If it is in God's plan, that some of our brothers and sisters to convert to another faith to make his point - then so be the Will of God. The conversion may not be only for the benefit of the converter, but to those around him/her. Maybe to test your own faith, and to see what you would do or say about it. There is a Reason and a Plan for everything. Let God be the judge, not you.

On topic - this is not the first time we have this kind of mobs parading around our churches. I have seen Muslims standing at the gates of our church, handing out flyers and pamphlets containing slanders and accusations about the Catholic faith. Some even came all the way to the doorsteps and shouting random gibberish. During a peninsular-wide Charismatic Convention that I attended many years ago, there were Muslims who came to the centre distributing flyers again and trying to collect the attendees' signatures, to express their protest to our peaceful meeting, and furthermore accused us of conspiring against the government. There are more to the list, but I'll stop here. But we managed to control the situation and the conflict ended quietly.

We live in a multi-racial, multi-religion country. Control of any sort of conflict is paramount. What I see, is the authorities and all those involved are handling the SMS scandal with such low commitment and low sense of urgency. The action taken to diffuse and prevent the matter has no weight at all. The Perak Mufti for one, need to act on any sort of report urgently and diligently. Yes, he said that he did report it to the State Government and the related authorities, but he needs have a follow-up on the matter to ensure the investigations are carried out properly. Two weeks of zero results is just absolutely incomprehensible to me.

I hope that the government and all related authorities that are involved with the investigation of the SMS scandal to step it up, to give us our tax payment's worth. Because if they continue to slack, this sort of a problem will happen again.

Apologies if I offended anyone. Thanks for reading.

Peace ^_^


November 24, 2006

Remand extended for couple in SMS case

IPOH: A couple held in connection with the SMS on a purported baptism of Muslims at a church have been remanded for five more days.
Magistrate Syamsul Rezal Md Ariff allowed the application made by the police in his chambers here yesterday to extend their remand until Monday. State CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Patrick Jiges Sijore said police needed more time to complete their probe into the SMS sent out earlier this month. The couple were brought to the court here under police escort at about 2.15pm. The woman, in her 40s, appeared calm while her 38-year-old husband looked dazed. The couple were first detained in Alor Star on Monday evening and remanded on Tuesday to help with the investigation.

November 22, 2006
Woman in SMS case held
Police have detained the woman in connection with the SMS sent earlier this month about a purpoted baptism of Muslims at a church.
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Aziz Bulat said the woman, in her 40s, and her 38-year-old husband were picked up outside Alor Star Hospital at 9.30pm on Monday.
He said the woman became hysterical when she was approached by police officers and had to be treated at the hospital before being brought here.
DCP Aziz added that the woman’s statement would be recorded after a remand order had been obtained.
Magistrate Syamsul Rezal Md Ariff ordered the couple to be remanded for three days

November 21, 2006
Perak police are seeking the help of a woman over an SMS sent earlier this month about a supposed baptism of Muslims at a church here.
RAJA SHERINA: Her help is sought in connection with the SMS baptism case.
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Aziz Bulat said police were releasing the photograph of the woman, whose name was given only as Raja Sherina, after she failed to turn up to give her statement despite the authorities giving her a deadline to do so.

November 13, 2006 - 'Baptism' message started by woman, claims Perak Mufti
Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria has named a woman in her 40s as the originator of a text message that claimed a group of Muslims was going to be baptised at a church here last month.
He claimed the woman is a graduate of the International Islamic University, who later studied at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
Harussani: ‘What I revealed was meant to stay within the confines of the meeting’
“Upon her return, she joined a missionary group that carried out social work. She later converted to Christianity and now claims to have returned to Islam,” he told reporters at his home in Kampung Melayu Gunung Rapat here yesterday.

Sunday November 12, 2006 - Mufti seeks audience from Sultan
Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria is trying to seek an audience with the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.
He said he has been trying since Friday to contact the palace secretary so that he could brief the Sultan on the case of an SMS alleging that a group of Muslims were going to be baptised in a church in Silibin here.
“If I could, I would see him today. I will keep trying. I am ready to see the Tuanku anytime, anywhere,” he said when contacted here yesterday.

November 15, 2006
Woman who sent SMS urged to contact police
They will publish Raja Sherina’s photograph if she fails to do so.
Perak police chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Bulat said she may be charged under the (Akta Hasutan) Sedition Act or the Multimedia and Communications Act for causing public unrest.
The New Straits Times learnt that the woman in her 40s is unemployed and stays in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
It was also learnt that she also went by the names Raja Norashikin Raja Azman and Shireen.

Polis minta 'Raja Sherina' tampil bantu siasatan kes SMS pembaptisan
November 14, 2006
Ahad lepas Harussani menyatakan rasa kesalnya dengan tindakan pihak tidak bertanggungjawab menyebarkan SMS mengaitkan namanya berhubung isu pembaptisan itu.
Beliau turut berkata seorang wanita membuat pendedahan mengenai upacara berkenaan dengan mengirimkan SMS kepadanya selain datang berjumpa beliau.
Bernama melaporkan Abdul Aziz berkata polis mengenal pasti wanita berkenaan menerusi siasatan terhadap nombor telefon bimbit prabayar yang digunakannya dengan bantuan syarikat telekomunikasi.
Beliau berkata siasatan terhadap beberapa individu lain juga sudah dijalankan berhubung penyebaran SMS berkenaan dan yakin kes itu akan dapat diselesaikan dalam tempoh seminggu dua lagi.
"Raja Sherina" diminta menghubungi Pegawai Turus D-9 DSP Shahadan Jaafar di IPK di talian 05-2451222.


November 6, 2006
WANTED:Penyebar SMS yang gemparkan Ipoh
Kedua–dua Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak telah bercakap sendiri dengan Ketua Polis Negara Tan Sri Musa Hassan mengarahkan pihak polis membuat siasatan segara.
"Mereka perlu dihukum dengan keras walau apapun niat mereka," kata Perdana Menteri kepada wartawan Malaysia di Islamabad Isnin.
"Saya selalu cakap isu agama adalah isu sensitif dan tidak boleh dipermainkan... tidak dijadikan jenaka. Tidak boleh digunakan untuk buat orang tergempar, terkejut dan hendak berseronok... nak tengok apa yang berlaku. Ini bukan jenaka," katanya. Najib berkata kepada para wartawan di Johor Bharu, “Kita mesti cari siapa yang buat."
"Siapa yang bertanggungjawab mesti dikenakan tindakan kerana SMS seperti ini amat berbahaya, boleh membawa kepada perbalahan kaum dan juga ketegangan dalam negara," katanya. Musa yang ditemui wartawan selepas satu majlis di Melaka menyifatkan perkara ini amat serius kerana ia boleh menghasut orang ramai dan memecah belah masyarakat. Menurutnya satu unit siasatan diketuai oleh Ketua Polis Perak dengan kerjasama Bahagian Siasatan Jenayah Bukit Aman telah diarahkan memantau dan menyiasat perkara berkenaan. Beliau mengakui usaha mengesan individu yang bertanggungjawab menyebarkan SMS berkenaan melalui telefon bimbit pra bayar bukan mudah. Musa juga menjelaskan adalah tidak benar dakwaan mengatakan Mufti Besar Perak, Datuk Harussani Zakaria bertanggungjawab mendedahkan mengenai sekumpulan orang Melayu akan dikristiankan di sebuah gereja di Ipoh kerana beliau tidak ada di dalam negara pada ketika ini. “Kalau beliau tidak ada di dalam negara saya tak tahu macam mana beliau boleh dedahkannya seperti yang didakwa di dalam SMS tersebut,” ujarnya.

November 13, 2006
Perak Mufti tells how he got controversial SMS
Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria on Sunday revealed how he had received a short messaging service (SMS) from a woman claiming knowledge of an alleged baptism of a group of Muslims at a church here last Sunday involving national mariner Datuk Azhar Mansor.
Speaking to reporters at his residence here after an audience with Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak Sunday morning, Harussani said on Oct 21 he received the SMS from the woman claiming Azhar had informed her that he would come to Ipoh to perform the baptism of several Malays in church on the date specified.
"I asked whether what she claimed was true. She claimed it was true and that she had received another telephone call from Azhar saying they would be coming to Ipoh.
"Then, on the eve of Hari Raya, she came to my house with her husband and confirmed that the function would take place," he said.
The circulation of the SMS raised a controversy and almost sparked off inter-racial and inter-religious tension when a group of Muslims gathered at the compound of the church on that day to obtain verification of the alleged baptism.
Harussani said the woman, who had claimed that she had renounced Islam, had not contacted him since the incident last Sunday.
"I have also not contacted her. I understand that her telephone line has been disconnected. She had studied at the International Islamic University (IIU) and the Al-Azhar University," he said.
Harussani said he conveyed the matter to the State Government and the Special Branch.
He said on Nov 2, a meeting was held by the national-level committee on the Islamic Convention at the meeting room of the State Mosque here to discuss the agenda and strategy for the convention scheduled for Dec 23 and 24.
"At the meeting, I was asked to explain the need for and objective of the convention. I said the convention was solely to seek ways to strengthen the faith of Muslims which lately, according to information received, has been tainted," he said.
"I also touched on the SMS sent to me by the woman for the information of those at the meeting. I said we should not do anything until we have verified the matter," he said.
Harussani dismissed allegations spread by certain quarters that he had made a public announcement of the matter and that he found it strange for a group of Muslims to get angry with him over the alleged disclosure.
"I find it strange that there are Muslims who are angry with me when I am the mufti. The main task in my position is to safeguard the faith of Muslims, uphold the 'syariat' (Islamic law) without blemish. That is my responsibility.
"So, when news such as these emerge, it is necessary for me to act to contain them. That is my responsibility, similar to the responsibility of police in maintaining security. If there are people who have been angered, it is a mistake," he said.
Harussani had an audience with the sultan Sunday morning to explain the controversy over the circulation of the SMS.
Harussani said the Sultan asked him not to issue any statement at the moment.
"His Majesty advised me, for the moment, to remain silent but all of you (journalists) have come. How now?" he said.
Harussani said several senior police officers led by Perak Chief Police Officer Datuk Abdul Aziz Bulat met him at his home Saturday evening to obtain information on the incident. - Bernama

Friday November 10, 2006
MB: Mufti not involved in SMS episode
In clarifying this, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali said the mufti's name, like that of mariner Datuk Azhar Mansor, had been misused by certain people who were now under police probe.
“I just want to emphasise that the mufti is not involved. The SMS merely mentioned his name and some quotes allegedly made by him,” he told reporters at a Hari Raya celebration in Beruas on Wednesday.

November 8, 2006
Government may use ISA on those sending offensive SMS
KUALA TERENGGANU: The Government is considering the use of the Internal Security Act – besides the Sedition Act – to deal with culprits whose actions are tantamount to instigating others and eventually stirring instability in the country.
The move would also target those who spread lies and rumours through the SMS with malicious intent, said Deputy Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum.
Mohd Johari: ‘We have to mete out punitive punishment’

November 08, 2006
Police Action To Be Allowed Against Students Over Ill-intended SMS
The Ministry of Higher Education will not interfere with police action against students of tertiary institutions found to have sent a short-messaging service (SMS) note alleging baptism of a group of Muslims at a church in Ipoh last Sunday.

From the the bloggers:

November 07, 2006
Baptism of 'Muslims' in Ipoh SMS Caper and why Muslims Reacted So!
Malaysia's Muslims are a very easily roused lot!
Yup! Never take them for granted that they don't care about what's taking place in this land and that they can be taken for a ride by others!
They are mostly people who do love their religion and will come together when necessary!
The irony is that it's mostly a case where such devotion to the faith is sadly superficial ..let's say for about 60% of the adherents who are trying their best to live up to the tenets of the faith ; the rest just give lip service to being Muslims.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

MORE PICS- SMS About BAPTISM CEREMONY of “Muslims” at CHURCH Of Our Lady of LOURDES, IPOH; Several NGOs Found out “MUSLIMS” Were ACTUALLY Indians.

The SMS:

ABOVE: The offending False SMS:
"Sejumlah melayu akan dibaptiskan oleh Dato Azhar Mansor esok di Gereja Silibin Ipoh. Seramai 600 pelajar Politeknik Ungku Omar Ipoh telah masuk Kristian. Pendedahan oleh Mufti Perak ptg td di masjid Negeri. Pagi esok 8 pg dmntrasi bantahan besaran depan gereja Silibin. Dtg bramai2 [obscured text] NGO2 Sebarkan Demi agama"

Translated into English, it says :

A number of Malays will be baptised by Dato Azhar Mansor tomorrow at the Ipoh Silibin Church. A total of 600 students of the Ungku Omar Polytechnic in Ipoh have converted to Christianity. Exposé by the Mufti of Perak last afternoon at the State Mosque. A large demonstration will be held in protest at 8 am tomorrow morning in front of the Silibin church. Turn up in numbers [obscured text] NGOs. Distribute this for our religion's sake

The “INNOCENT” Perak Mufti Received ORIGINAL Message Convened MEETING with NGO To CATCH “Red Handed” the “MUSLIM” CONVERTS in a CHURCH? What was his real Intentions? Why can’t he called up the Church and confirm? NO Interfaith Dialogue?
This is interesting revealation from the perak Mufti, reported in the STAR, Nov 12 06.
Is this woman an “infiltrator”? Coverted and reconvert? Spying on the Christian missionary to convert people? Do you think the Mufti has done the right thing? Adding “salt & fire” to make message more “tastier” or appealing or setting the stage to trap the so call “converts” red-handed? There are so many possibilities. If he is more responsible instead of just “to remind Muslims of the threats facing Islam today” he could have just make a call to the Church (or is it haram?); and nip the problem in the bud to diffuse the threats to peace. ONLY after the incident he asked “leave it to the police to investigate”
One wonders how many SMSs went around. Did he actually show the “ORIGINAL” the one he received (see below, cannot be deciphered) to the Police? Is the widely publicised one the ONLY one?

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