‘Much ado about nothing,’ says Herald

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The latest Catholic Herald weekly has carried a report seeking to downplay the Christmas tea party controversy.

Hardev Kaur

Meanwhile Special Officer to the Prime Minister Hardev Kaur has expressed regret in a Malaysian Insider report here and here. It was not an instruction but just a ‘request’ or suggestion, on her own initiative, for symbols to be removed from the rostrum, she claims. (The Insider has disabled comments to these reports.) Hardev is an officer in the Finance Ministry (which is headed by Najib) and formerly Group Editor of NST.

Here’s the Herald report, written by someone who attended the tea party:

Much Ado About Nothing!

Published on: January 06, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with Archbishop Murphy Pakiam and Bishop Ng Moon Hing, who were wearing their pectoral crosses. HERALDpix courtesy of Tan Kong Beng.

KUALA LUMPUR: No crucifixes were taken down as there were no crucifixes mounted anywhere in the car park area fronting the residence of the Archbishop Murphy Pakiam. It is surprising that those who carried the news report in their various portals did not check the veracity about the statement of the ‘removal of crucifixes’.

There is no proper place to host a large gathering in or around the Archbishop’s residence. So on the eve of Christmas, the car park area was cleared of all cars and Bedouin like tents were put up as a make shift reception hall to celebrate Christmas. It was a simple celebration without much fan-fare.

The invitation cards were sent out to a number of people. Much of the programme as listed on the reverse of the card was carried out without much delay. The arrival of guests was scheduled for 3.00pm. The Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Fr Justus Pereira said the opening prayer, followed by the reading of the Gospel by Fr Julian Leow of College General, Penang. With that spiritual rite the carollers from the Cathedral of St John’s International Community began to sing a number of carols in their native languages.

There is that realism that the Church in Malaysia is also universal and is not just the Catholic population of Malaysia alone. The carollers were from Nigeria, Myanmar and Vietnam. To say that there wasn’t any singing of carols is to ignore their singing and their presence as well. So to say that the Archbishop complied with the requests of Ms Hardev Kaur from the Prime Minister’s Office is to DENY TRUTH.

At least one portal stated that “among the directives given from the Prime Minister’s Office” were:

To remove any overt Christian symbol, such as crucifixes, from the party premises.

Take a look at this: The Archbishop was seen wearing his pectoral cross and there were other Bishops who were also wearing their pectoral crosses. More crucifixes were put up than removed!

That carollers not belt out hymns. The carollers did sing a carol. It was Joy to the World.

Not to quote from Scriptures or say any Christian prayer during the visit.

We repeat, the Scripture was read by Fr Julian Leow and prayer was led by Fr Justus Pereira. We must always witness to the truth, for Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Each year under the auspices of the Christian Federation Malaysia, an open house Christmas celebration is held.

The 2009 Christmas celebration was held at the Mar Thoma Church but the Prime Minister was not able to attend it, but for the 2010 Christmas celebration at the Archbishop’s residence, the Prime Minister was there till it was time for him to leave for KLIA.

For me, the moral of the story is simple. We need not waste time accommodating worldly politicians during what is supposed to be a spiritual occasion to celebrate the Incarnation, the entry of a great Light to dispel the oppressive, murderous, unjust and corrupt forces of Darkness that grip the world. If anything, we need to be speaking some hard truths to (worldly) power about justice, accountability and respect for basic rights.

If political leaders want to attend the celebration, that’s fine and they would be welcome – but as guests who are welcome to come and leave as they please like everyone else, for everyone is equal in the sight of God. Thus, ‘requests’, ‘suggestions’ or ‘instructions’ from political leaders or their aides to the hosts are surely out of place.

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Hasri

When we won the Asian Football Federation Suzuki Cup, our PM declared 31st December a public holiday, claiming to support the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”. Hurrah, hurrah. But when our PM attended a Christmas celebration at the Catholic Church Archbishop residence, the PMO directive (requested/)ordered the church officials to remove crucifixes (from the rostrum area?)… Here we are shouting 1Malaysia this and 1Malaysia that, but know not how to respect the tradition, culture and beliefs of another religion? What message are we sending out to the public and the world at large? That we are still immature… Read more »

yang

Yes not only sly, he speak half truth…

Yang

Anil : What is wrong with true lies when in fact its a lies.

kee

Firstly, i think the church also loves to bodek, right?

Secondly, i think Sewel is right, borrowed her name to clear the blunder made. Sounds familiar this kind of thing in the BN government?

Thirdly, for goodness’ sake, open your eyes and vote for a change. Please do not be deceived anymore by the BN government. Our PM is a sly …,

look at Beng Hock’s open verdict…

Kerusi

…”Bedouin like tents

Err … looks like Father Christmas came with a nice present for somebody. Hope nobody got sand in their eyes and ears!

Kerusi

The ex Newspaper broad proved how adept she is at fiction. This one is “cruci fiction”!

DG

Hardev is not a Christian, how do you expect her to act like a “Christian” . Secondly, the term “request “is a polite manner in asking. At least, she did not arrogantly instruct like some people, who are not only a racist but are also rude. Her boss was the PM, she works for him, so you can’t blame from being “overly proctective” of him and not the church. It is the Christians and the rest that “jump to conclusions” and make “very impolite remarks” who should apologise. Getting angry and upset does not give us the right to pass… Read more »

Thangathirai Joe

Hardev can redeem herself as najib is set to visit a temple at Sungai Petani on Thaipusam.

anobrainer

These are the insincerities of an incompetent ‘government’.

Jong

I agree with Yang!
As I said in an earlier post on this blog, the Church should have told Najib to come with respect, only if he was comfortable and don’t if he was not. For invited guests to request this and that, is most rude and patronizing!

yang

No matter what, the fact is they were ask to remove the crucifix etc. For an UMNO guy and a PM who … speaks half truths…, Najib should not have been invited…

kahkahkah

There is one crucifix…the one hanging on the chest of the archbishop. Phew…what a big storm, in the tea-cup.

Bigjoe

It is NOT her job whether its ‘to request’ or ‘to suggest’. She is better than her Islamic colleagues in deciding what is sensitive or not? At best her job is to give the description of the event and if the PM or his Islamic aides has a problem with it, they are the ones to speak up, not her.

Why she so smart? Why she think she has to be smarter on something she is the least qualified for?

Ong Eu Soon

Umno has this LEBIH mentality. No crucifixe ask for removal of crucifixes. No majority support tell the non-Malay supporters their votes are not needed. No money but want to build mega projects. Really LEBIH!!

Sewel

Hardev is a personal friend and a very friendly and likable person. I agree she did step out of line by asking the church officials to remove some of the things from the rostrum etc. She had no business to make such a request. I did speak to her and told her she was out of line regardless of her noble intentions. She did apologize profusely. I can say confidently Hardev is a really nice person but this time she goofed up. She meant well but given the way things are today its best she exercises some discretion in her… Read more »

limko1

The matter involves public figure and is an official function publicized by government organs and press media, so please keep your personal friendship to yourself as it does not concern anyone else except between the two of you.

Sewel

I think her name got used only. someone else made the request lah. she not that bodoh mah! but that is the price you pay for being a personal adviser to the PM. heh heh heh

LBJ

Look. I dont care if she is nice or not. First she did not apologise. Regret is an attempt to spin her way out the issue. She is totally insincere and should be fired.

nkkhoo

Perkasa Ibrahim Ali is also a nice person if you know him personally, but his public image is another story.

Sewel

so true . good point. in fact even hitler was a nice bloke if you ask the nazis. i get your point.

Chauncey Gardener

In a number of other countries (both Western and Asian). a faux pas like this would have seen the person resigning his/her position.

But this is Malaysia, so ….

Tok Wan

Malaysian English:

Request = Instruct?

Jong

It has showed there are over-zealous Nons the likes of Hadev Kaur who are prepared even to sell out … to gain some brownie points with the Prime Minister! That’s how low they are prepared to go, disgraceful…!!!

What’s next – Sikh Temples? No turban Sikhs beside the rostrum when visiting PM speaks? The Sikh community should take note, “requests” are not “instructions”!

Maniam

The Quran also describes the diversity of languages, nations and ethnicities as signs of God’s grace and not as a cause for making distinctions between superior and inferior groups. Throughout Islamic history, dialogues have facilitated mutual learning between civilisations – such as in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from the late 13th century to 1923. Pluralism, thus, encourages Muslims to go beyond mere tolerance of other religious practices and to respect, appreciate and celebrate diversity. This includes the understanding of other cultures and languages. The perception that inter-faith dialogues are forums for conversion has to be remedied. Dialogue… Read more »

Norman

She was formerly a Group Editor of NST. This explained all.

Caroline Soon

The ones who were there have already left the place but those not there …… Obsessed: crossing the river Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “Brother, our spiritual… Read more »

Jonathan

Even the non Malays serving the BN are dumbos…geez…

Andrew I

Regret is usually expressed to garner sympathy.

gregwar

I feel Herald’s headline is missing the point. The fact is that there was suggestions from Najib’s office which is totally out of place.

Assamjawa

Anil, there is no better word for scums of society lah. No need to edit, and please get rid of that picture, makes me wanna puke!

Assamjawa

This country has never been more polarized than we are today, thanks to … like Hardev Kaur!

Jong

Just “regret”, no apologies? Shame on you Hardev Kaur! Is this ‘little napolean’ now trying to cover up for the PM? Or was she trying for a triple promotion ala-Khusrin who now manage to wriggle his way into SS seat? What a nerve she has to now come out saying “I had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction.” – oh yah, a “request” from the Prime Minister – sounds more like ‘an order that must be met’, no? Her action had insulted, riled and offended a nation of Christians, and I see she no… Read more »