Lives can be ruined by religious-tinged racism – Mariam Mokhtar

Source: FMT News

BY MARIAM MOKHTAR

The claim that Islamic law affects only Muslims does not ring true.

As the conference on overcoming racism, organised by Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, gets underway in Melbourne, some people may be wondering how to counter the racism in Malaysia, which is tinged with religious undertones.

My Filipina and Indonesian friends say that during Ramadhan, they have been embarrassed when religious officials question them for eating in public in the daytime. My Catholic friends from Sabah and Sarawak have often been mistaken for Muslims.

They also claim that on a few occasions, they have not received a warm reception from restaurateurs who serve non-halal food. They say the proprietors want them to finish their meal quickly and leave because they want to avoid unwanted attention from religious officials, who may barge into the premises and accuse them of serving non-halal food to Muslims. It’s not good for business.

Religious officials forget that Ibans or Kadazans may look Malay, but they are not. The same goes with some Malaysians of mixed Indian and Chinese parentage. Read more

The Malaysian government’s love-hate relationship with the media

Source: Asian Correspondent

Pic: TonTonic / Shutterstock.com

IT’S been a rocky year so far for the often-contentious relationship between Malaysia’s leaders and the media.

In the first quarter of 2016, we’ve seen a soap opera of events unfold, from the blocking of news portals and blogging platformsto the arrest of foreign journalists.

Yes, some may argue that we’re not as bad as other countries and pull out the “China/North Korea/any other authoritarian country” card, but let’s not bring ourselves down to that level.

As it stands, Malaysia is currently ranked at #147 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, an annual report released by Reporters Without Borders which highlights worldwide standings in freedom of information. The country has seen an overall decline in press freedom over the years – it is at its lowest position since 2002, with its highest ranking in 2006, at #92.

According to Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report, in 2015, Malaysia scored as “Partly Free”, with middling results in freedom, civil liberties and political rights. Read more