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Thursday, June 24, 2010

When non-Muslims have rights — The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 24 — It is a rare day when a non-Muslim’s right is upheld and cited as a reason why certain policies are introduced in Malaysia.
Rare because it is never cited when a non-Muslim wants to build a temple, a church or any other house of worship. That is when non-Muslims must pander to the majority which in this country means Muslims.

Which is fine, because the majority rules. Although the minorities also have rights.
So it is gratifying that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is concerned that non-Muslims are entitled to their right to gamble, just as they are entitled to eating pork and drinking alcoholic beverages.
These are their rights under the Federal Constitution according to veteran minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.
The Information, Communications and Culture minister said yesterday that sports betting, which already happens in the guise of horse-racing in the country, should be allowed because non-Muslims too have rights under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.
“You cannot see a Chinese New Year going without gambling, as far as I know growing up in Petaling, Jelebu. There are many cases in the country to show that betting is a way of life for the non-Muslims. We have to respect that, and just adding more does not hurt,” he was quoted as saying by The Sun newspaper.

One up for the minister for defending the rights of non-Muslims in a country obsessed with race, religion and rights of the majority. After all, it is 1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.
What would be great is if Umno members do this consistently and not just when the issue does not impinge on Muslim “rights” such as freedom of worship.
Perhaps, the good minister has forgotten about the cow head incident and temple demolitions in Selangor. As well as the directive to destroy the Kitab Injil.
By all means, allow football pools. But don’t use the rights of non-Muslims to justify gambling or even drinking.
No religion or faith promotes vice. Just virtues.
For the government of the day, the virtue it ought exemplify is to be transparent about the licence approved or awarded to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd. And to remember that non-Muslims have as much rights as Muslims, and not just for gambling.


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