Unequal treatment for non-Muslims, minorities, says US report

Source: FMT News

The annual religious freedom report notes the ways in which dissent is handled by Malaysian authorities and the restrictions on religious freedom, while offering suggestions on how the US government should handle this. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is prioritising the Malay Muslim identity, often to the disadvantage of religious and ethnic minorities, says the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2017 report.

Certain systems in place and trends in the country have tended to erode the notion of a secular state and the constitution as the supreme law in Malaysia, it says.

“The Malaysian government actively restricts freedom of expression and punishes those who criticise it, including online,” it says, adding that due to these and other restrictions and unfair actions, the USCIRF has again placed Malaysia on its Tier 2, where it has been since 2014. Read more

Re-stitching Malaysia’s social fabric

Source: The Star Online

Findings show that strategies and initiatives are needed to foster greater interaction between communities.

WHEN the protest of Malaysians for fair elections and against corruption is reframed as an attack by non-Malays against the dignity of Malays, we should be alarmed. Race seems to be the default narrative to explain everything one is unhappy about, from frustrations at school to dissatisfaction at work to altercations in the neighbourhood.

The fact that multi-cultural Malaysia has enjoyed decades of prosperity with little violent conflict does not necessarily equate to harmony. In recent years, with religion being politicised to reinforce communal barriers and more children being schooled separately, we intuitively know that Malaysia’s Malays, Chinese and Indians are growing further apart.

But what are the real facts? How do we measure growing apart? Do we really know what helps commu­­nal integration and what does not, and what simply fuels the divide? Read more

Malaysia Before Malaysia Lecture #5: Remember Who We Are – The Journey to Preserve Kristang

Kristang_StephaniePillaiIn spite of recognizing the many dimensions of multiracialism and multilingualism in Malaysia, there have been often times that some especially indigenous and hybrid communities get overlooked in the conception of our plural society. We know how to say, “Selamat pagi”, “Vanakam” or even “Ni hao ma?” but has it ever crossed our minds how do we say “Hello, how are you?” in Kristang, a Portuguese Creole spoken by the Malaccan minority community known as Serani.

Spoken mostly in the Portuguese settlement in Malacca, Kristang has a rich history, dating back to before the name Malacca was officially recognised. However, due to dislocation and urbanization, the number of speakers of the language are facing a decline.

What does it take to keep a language alive for posterity? Why does it even matter in the first place? Language plays a crucial role in carrying discourses that are unique to an ethnic group, especially its culture and community values. Without the language of the heart, the soul of an identity ceases to exist.

In the fifth part of our Malaysia Before Malaysia Lecture Series, Associate Professor Dr Stefanie Pillai will talk about her journey of initiating an effort to document the endangered language of Kristang, upon receiving a grant from the Endangered Languages Programme by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Details of event are as follow:
Date: Saturday, 20th August 2016
Time: 10.45am – 1.00pm
Venue: MCCHR Pusat Rakyat LB, Jalan Pantai Baharu (A-3-8 Pantai Business Park), 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Admission is free and open to all. Donations are encouraged. Directions to the venue are available at mcchr.org/space.

This lecture is part of the Malaysia Before Malaysia series, brought to you by Imagined Malaysia and MCCHR.

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