This is the scene at Padang Merbok, where some 50,000 are attending a rally in support of Hadi’s bill.

Mind you, this is without any obstacles, roadblocks or threats of arrest. (And so can have a fair idea of how many people Pas could contribute to a Bersih rally.) This is more or less the number of supporters Pas could pack into a stadium in say, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Indeed, the numbers appear well short of Hadi’s prediction of a 200,000 turnout – and it is hardly a ringing nationwide endorsement of his bill. My good friend, Tasik Gelugor Pas information chief Abdul Rahman Kasim, was more guarded, forecasting 100,000 ahead of the rally. As friends, we have had frank exchanges – and strong differences of views – over whether Hadi’s bill is suitable for a diverse, multireligious society like ours. But no hard feelings.

Meanwhile, some 200 gathered for the Bebas counter rally at Taman Jaya. Among those addressing the crowd was Haris Ibrahim.

Anyway, it is good that the authorities have respected the right of both sides to gather peacefully and air their views at different venues.

(The singer above is Majida El Roumi Baradhy, a Lebanese soprano and UN Goodwill Ambassador.)

A good friend of mine shared with me his Christmas homily. I thought it was too good to keep to myself; so I am sharing it with you – though he prefers to remain anonymous. The homily touches on how the “religious observance” vs commercialisation of Christmas contestation has masked the radical message of Christianity against the “domination systems” of our world.


MP for Kelana Jaya Wong Chen has alerted Malaysians that the amendments to Hadi’s bill have been delivered to MPs.

According to Wong Chen, “He (Hadi) has finally abandoned his hudud punishment agenda and he will now pursue instead a maximum of 30 years jail sentence, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes.”

It seems altogether fitting that the archbishop who championed the ministry of justice and peace in the Malaysian Church should be installed as cardinal by Francis, the Bishop of Rome, on 19 November, which coincides with Bersih 5.

This is a piece I wrote for the Herald a few weeks ago.

Soter Fernandez – From hospital dresser to cardinal of a ‘field hospital’ church

Last year, when I met Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, he took pains to highlight two somewhat related areas that he seemed to be concerned about. He carried in his bag a clutch of documents relating to the Aggiornamento in 1976 and the present Bishop of Rome’s encyclical on the Joy of the Gospel.