Friday, April 24, 2009

Burma is eight years too late; Malaysia was first

Burma is eight years too late; Malaysia was first
24 Apr, 2009

Yes, that’s right. Ustaz Dr Badrulamin was detained without trial for two years for the ‘crime’ of praying. That’s because he made the ‘mistake’ of praying for the release of all ISA detainees.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Arrested for praying

Two members of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party were arrested and charged with insulting religion after they prayed for the release of political prisoners, a party spokesman said on Friday.

National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win said authorities arrested Chit Pe, the party's deputy chairman, and party member Aung Saw Wei in Twante on Tuesday.

Both took part in a prayer service for the release of political prisoners, which was held at a pagoda in the township, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) south of Yangon.

Nyan Win said the two were charged with insulting religion, which carries a possible two-year jail sentence.

'The government is suppressing anyone who opposes or challenges them,' Nyan Win said. 'If a Buddhist is arrested and charged for praying at a pagoda, what can they do?'

Myanmar's military, which has held power since 1962, tolerates no dissent. The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a nationwide pro-democracy uprising and has stepped up its campaign against opposition politicians and activists ahead of elections planned for next year.

In recent months, military courts have sentenced hundreds of pro-democracy activists to prison terms of up to 104 years.

Myanmar now has more than 2,100 political prisoners, according to rights groups. The most prominent among them is Suu Kyi, who has spent more than 13 of the last 19 years under detention. She is currently under house arrest. – AP


The above is today’s news item from AP. What you just read really makes Burma look real bad; don’t you think so? Well, many of you may not be aware that the same thing happened in Malaysia eight years ago. And, in that incident, Ustaz Dr Badrulamin Bahron, one-time lecturer with the International Islamic University (UIA), was detained without trial under Malaysia’s draconian Internal Security Act and was sent to Kamunting for two years -- for praying.

Yes, that’s right. Ustaz Dr Badrulamin was detained without trial for two years for the ‘crime’ of praying. That’s because he made the ‘mistake’ of praying for the release of all ISA detainees. So they made sure he himself became an ISA detainee (maybe they thought the closer he is to the ISA detainees he is praying for, the better chance he has for his prayers to be heard). If he had instead prayed for the long-life, health and happiness of the Sultans, like they do during every Friday prayer in all the mosques in Malaysia, then he would not have been sent to Kamunting for two years.

It is actually quite ironical is it not? You pray to God that the ISA detainees get released, then ‘God’ grants you your wish by making you an ISA detainee. If this is not a point for atheists to use in their argument that there is no God then I really don’t know what is.

Anyway, it just goes to show that sometimes man does the work of God and you really can’t blame God for your predicament. I mean, if God is really is involved in all this, then how can God take away two years of your freedom just because you prayed to Him for the welfare of fellowmen who are victims of injustice?

To digress a bit here: do you know it is mandatory for all mosques to offer prayers to the Rulers and their crown princes during the Friday congregational prayers? I remember more than ten years ago or so when about seven or nine imams from Selangor were sacked because they were alleged to have ‘boycotted’ the part where they were supposed to offer prayers for the Sultan of Selangor.

Actually, this was not true at all. These imams were known PAS sympathisers and Umno wanted to get rid of them. So the Religious Department went to meet the Sultan and played a tape-recording of the Friday prayers to ‘prove’ that these mosques did not offer prayers to the Sultan and his son.

Of course, all they had to do was to delete that part where the prayers were held and splice the tape. Then the ‘new’ tape-recording would show that no prayers were offered. The Religious Department sought permission from the Sultan to sack these seven or nine imams and the Sultan consented.

I can’t remember all the imams or mosques involved but I do remember that the Sungai Buloh, Subang Airport, and Subang Jaya mosques were amongst those that suffered the removal of their imams for the crime of not offering prayers to the Sultan and his son. Later, other mosques in the Federal Territory -- like the Bangsar Abu Bakar Siddique and Damansara Utama Mujahidin mosques -- also came under the hammer of the religious authorities. These mosques too were headed by known PAS sympathisers.

If you can remember, during the last general election, the head of PAS Johor appointed a young Indian (Hindu girl) lawyer to contest a seat in Johor. Well, this man, Ustaz Mahfoz, was the imam of the Mujahidin mosque in Damansara Utama who was sacked. And he appointed an Indian Hindu girl (read: girl, Indian and Hindu in one breath: three so-called taboos for PAS according to those who claim that PAS is a Taliban party) as a PAS candidate. Yet he was sacked by the religious authorities for being an ‘extremist’.

Okay, enough digression. Back to the story of Ustaz Dr Badrulamin who was detained for praying, just like what they do in Burma. Ustaz Dr Badrulamin was actually detained earlier that year but was released after a few months. However, it was a conditional release. He was not to meet in a group of more than four. He must remain indoors from dusk to dawn. And he may not leave his home district.

He complied with all that. But he thought that leading a prayer (baca doa) would not be regarded as an illegal gathering -- as any gathering of more than four without a police permit would be classified. And it was not a street or outdoor gathering. It was indoors. And he was not giving a ceramah or speaking in an anti-government rally. He was leading prayers for the wellbeing of all ISA detainees.

Ustaz Dr Badrulamin was wrong. The police did consider it an illegal gathering and therefore in breach of the terms and restrictions imposed on him. They summoned him to the Rawang Police Station without telling him what it was about. And as soon as he entered the police station they served him with a detention order and sent him to Kamunting.

That was Malaysia then. That is Burma now. Burma is eight years too late. And Malaysia is still like Burma today.

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