Marina Mahathir celebrates diversity; Khalid Samad tours St Anne’s Church

Marina Mahathir speaking in Penang - Photograph: Eivanne

Writer-activist Marina Mahathir today talked up diversity as an asset for the country in the Putra Lecture organised by the Penang Free School Foundation at Wawasan Open University.

A crowd of some 200 gathered to listen to Marina, who shot into the limelight recently after she turned up at the Klang Catholic Church with a group of like-minded Muslims to present flowers to the priest and parishioners in a bid to reduce tensions created by right-wing Muslim groups over the Allah controversy.

When someone from the floor rose to ask her what she thought of religious extremism, she said she didn’t believe in religious extremism as there was nothing religious about being an extremist – a response which drew loud applause from the audience.

She added that what we are seeing now is actually political manipulation disguised as religious extremism, as the audience clapped again.

Marina said she is now studying psychology and noted some research studies had shown that negative stereotyping of certain ethnic groups and of their gender (female) could have an impact on participants’ academic or other achievements if they felt that race and gender were important considerations.

According to Wikipedia, this is known as the ‘stereotype threat’:

The strength of the stereotype threat that occurs depends on how the task is framed. If a task is framed to be neutral, stereotype threat is not likely to occur; however if tasks are framed in terms of active stereotypes, participants are likely to perform worse on the task. For example, a study on chess players revealed that women players performed more poorly than expected when they were told they would be playing against a male opponent. In contrast, women who were told that their opponent was female performed as would be predicted by past ratings of performance.

This in itself is grounds for us to consider doing away with the need to have students state their gender or ethnicity when taking examinations.

Marina also took issue with the composition of the National Unity Consultative Council, which only took into consideration ethnic diversity. But the council lacked adequate representation from women and youth, she said.

This raised another issue as to why we tend to think of diversity only in terms of ethnicity and not other types of diversity such as gender, age and (income) class.

On a lighter note, Marina pointed out that she had a connection with Penang Free School as her grandfather had served as a teacher there for a few years. (Other luminaries who had studied at the school include Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra himself, Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, noted academic Dr Khoo Boo Teik of Aliran, and 1935 Nobel Prize for Medicine nominee Dr Wu Lien-teh.)

While Marina was speaking in Penang, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad was visiting GE13 whistle-blower Major Zaidi in Bertam on mainland Penang to express support for the beleagured air force officer, widely seen as a hero or patriot willing to stand up for what he thought was wrong.

In the afternoon, Khalid visited St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam. There, Penang Bishop Sebastian Francis accompanied the Pas MP on a tour of the sprawling church premises. While strolling around the church grounds, Khalid had a chance to stop and briefly address participants attending a couple of church programmes.

When contacted, Khalid said, “I told them, my colleagues and I were doing our best to reduce the tensions that have been created in the country.” He also told the participants that, as citizens who love the country, they too had an important role to play in forging greater unity.

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PAS MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa visited a Sungai Petani church to meet Christians with his message of peaceful coexistence and that Allah was for all, unlike the day’s sermon that preached the word was only for Muslims.

Wee Chin

Ridhuan Tee Abdullah wrote in Malay daily Sinar Harian today:

“During the old days Malays only stood outside a church or a temple. Just like going into the market. They will avoid looking at pork and even worry if the flies that swooned around pork would fly into the halal area. That is how careful they were, But today, Malays visit the church without feeling embarrassed, for the sake of politics. It is not impossible that one day, they will join the others to weigh pork,”


Forum Perdana on TV1 should have debat minda between Ridhuan Tee & Kassim Ahmand; and Marina Mahathir can be the moderator.


Ridhuan Tee is a disgrace to Islam.
He sows hatred and somehow not yet being charged under sedition act.


Ridhuan Tee is preaching the wrong Islam, but Jakim is not taking action.
Wonder why the Education Ministry is doing nothing as Ridhuan Tee is also a lecturer in a local university. He is doing a lot of damages to our society with his toxic speeches and writings.

I hope my fellow malays can wake up and reject Ridhuan Tee.


Ridhuan Tee formerly Tee Chuan Seng now calls many local chinese people as Ultra Kiasus in many of his articles in Utusan or Sinar Harian. Not sure if he refers to MCA towkays ?


do you have the video of Anwar singing the Tamil ’60s song “Nan Anai Ittal” last night ?

Wee Chin

Move over, Waytha! Anwar mendendangkan lagu popular Tamil “Naan Aanaiyittal” yang dipopularkan oleh artis lagenda Kollywood terkenal yang kini menjadi ahli politik, MG Ramachandran..


Marina can encourage her billionaire brother (top 10 wealthiest man in Msia) to follow Vincent Tan (who just donated 25 millions on his birthday) to help the poors.


I have yet to see Syed Mokhtar donate to the well beings of poor malays in the country. Those rich malays should learn a thing or two about giving back to teh society.

Anyway Vincent Tan must be worried now that his Cardiff City will soon be relegated. Red dragon is not auspicious?


This latest ceramah by Anwar Ibrahim is quite appropriate for this topic of discussion:

Bersatu Orang Islam Bukan Untuk Menghina Kaum Lain Agama


I applaud DSAI for highlighting to us the true values of Islam.
I see nothing wrong for him to be in a church or temple to promote better understanding of the different faiths in the country.

AC Kan

Only the myopic and bigotted fail to see the strength and advantages of diversity. I have been to Indonesia and China for business. I could see that my counterparts in these countries felt more comfortable when I spoke to them in BM or Mandarin. Friends in China and US were quite amazed, may be even envious, that I could speak three languages. We have a natural environment to produce trilingual citizens if only we put a bit more emphasis on English and our mother tongue. It will be foolish of us as a nation not to capitalize on this natural… Read more »


This sound interesting although off topic but quite related. ““PAS will not allow freedom of religion““` This is interesting for many who believed in PAS freedom of religion of which I am one. Now I think on the contrary and believed that we should not believed too much in PAS and PKR DAP. The opposition supporters scream ABU, which means ‘anything but Umno’. PAS is not Umno. In fact, PAS is a member of the opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat. Hence the church people, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the atheists, the ancestor worshippers, and whatnot, accept, support and vote for… Read more »


All very nice – BUT how does it change the votes in Felda and Sarawak & Sabah? These things are political indulgences of victims. It does little at the HEART of the problem i.e., in Felda and Sabah & Sarawak.

najib manaukau

Yet her father, the egregious are always hanging on to the tongkats and wheelchairs dependents on the controversial topics for his support. Or are they to divert the attention of the Malaysians from discussing his … gains and also from looking into the billion of dollars that his … son has gained from the government and all the Petronas contracts he us beeb awarded. This …. son of his (may) not get to earn (much) outside Malaysia unlike billionaires like the sugar king Robert Kuok or the late Lim from Genting and all the other billionaires. They become billionaires because… Read more »