Seems to me the BN has mastered the art of “give and take” in administering the nation.
Give: Letter officially approving the new publication permit of The Herald Catholic Weekly – without any condition, allowing it to publish in all languages. (Hooray!)
Take: Cabinet decision to bar The Herald from using the word “Allah”. (Alas, the earlier unconditional approval letter was too good to be true. So much for good sense prevailing; I should have known better.)
Imagine, the Cabinet is now dictating to the people what name they should use to refer to the Almighty. That name has now become a source of division. How sad that they want to divide people of the Abrahamic faiths over the term used for the Almighty! The Herald’s rationale for its usage of the word “Allah” in its Malay-language section was based on a point of language, but the Cabinet appears to have made what amounts to a political and theological decision to reinforce existing ethno-religious boundaries (“divide and rule”) ahead of a general election.
I guess this means The Herald will be forced to use the term “Tuhan” instead if it wants to keep its permit. What about all those Christians and Sikhs who have been using the word “Allah” to refer to the Almighty all along?
Another example of give and take:
Give: Relief to Malaysians by scrapping school fees and providing free text books for all. Free school education for all, apparently. (Hooray!)
Take: Cash from Malaysians by allowing schools to impose “donations” and other charges (PIBG, computer centre, etc), which can add up to anything from RM50 to close to RM200. (Again, should have known better, right?) Now they are saying that payments for these “donations” and other charges are only voluntary… but are they really? Will children (and parents) be free from all forms of subtle pressure (including peer pressure) to cough up the dough?
One primary schoolteacher told me there are three categories of fees (A, B and C) that a school can opt for. The lowest of these is category C, which amounts to RM23.50. This is for “other fees” such as charges for co-curriculum activities and exam papers. In her school, she said the average pupil would have to stump out around RM100 (which includes the cost of workbooks and exercise books) in all.
Give: Hope to the Abolish ISA Movement that if they had a permit they would be allowed to hold their candle-light vigil. In any case, give them a measly 20 minutes to hold their event (held last night).
Take: Their right to assemble peacefully by first rejecting their application for a permit and then turning the water cannons on them.
Meanwhile, check out this list of ISA detainees. ISA = I Say Abolish!