With People Like Chen Man Hin Advising the DAP, Should We Be Worried?

Posted on January 11, 2010

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In the debate over the use of “Allah” by Christians in Malaysia, I was interested to learn what the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) feels about this issue. And so I read the opinion piece crafted by DAP’s Life Adviser Dr Chen Man Hin, only to be disappointed – but somewhat unsurprised – by the lack of intelligent reasoning in his arguments.

What shocked me instead, was the irresponsible liberty he assumed in presenting his ideal of the world, as what the world actually is. “The majority of world Muslims, including Muslim Arabs, Muslim Africans, Muslim Indonesians and Muslim Malaysians have no problem with the use of Allah by Christians living amidst them for centuries” he boldly declares. Says who, Dr Chen? It makes sense for Arab Christians to use that word because, being native Arabic speakers, “Allah” becomes a generic term for God. But outside the Arab world, for example in the English-speaking world, “Allah” is specific to Muslims and Islam. Dr Chen’s failure to acknowledge this shows that he is either ignorant or disingenuous in his arguments. His confidence in proclaiming that the majority of Malaysian Muslims “have no problem” with the issue shows he is either out of touch or, if one is cynical, that he is simply repeating a lie in the hope that it will eventually pass off as a truth. Either way, this behaviour is inexcusable for a national politician.

Dr Chen, ever the politician, certainly knows the power of repetition, and he doesn’t refrain from using it. “PM Najib (sic) open support for UMNO’s retrogressive stand against the use of Allah by Christians shows that his 1Malaysia…will once again fail to deliver his promises to the people”. This man, DAP’s appointed life adviser, takes it upon himself to label it “retrogressive” to give himself a monopoly over what is right and wrong. And he commits this again thus: “PM Najib (sic) open support for UMNO’s repressive policies will bring bring (sic) serious consequences”. There it is again, in a slightly altered form. He uses these two very decisive and morally-righteous terms even when the issue is actually morally-ambiguous. Repeat! and they will follow, seems to be his weapon of choice in disseminating half-cooked propaganda.

Indeed, Dr Chen has a soft spot for blindly following. “It looks like that (sic) UMNO’s stand against the use of Allah by Christians is contrary to the thinking and practices by Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and Indonesia”. Oh, so now we’re expected to follow whatever it is people are doing overseas? Since when did Muslims in those parts of the world become role models in the Islamic world? Bear in mind, that he has not even bothered to conclusively prove how widespread the use of Allah by Christians is in those areas, if at all.

Dr Chen feels that opposition to the use of “Allah” by Christians somehow violates religious freedom and the concept of 1Malaysia. The fact is, it does not. We can be united as a country while still observing our separate religious and cultural practices. I don’t have to wear a cross, just as a Christian doesn’t have to fast during Ramadan, for the sake of being one united harmonious country. Religious freedom without respect for religious sensitivities and consideration for the religious make-up, heritage and character of our country is simply making a mockery of the term. It is bemusing that Dr Chen Man Hin has the cheek to pass off his sloppy arguments as reasoned debate. It is shameful that the DAP, a national party which purports to serve the interests of all Malaysians, fails to understand the essence of this issue.