16 May 2016
Press statement by MCA Religious Harmony Bureau Chairman Dato’ Sri Ti Lian Ker
Taoist shrine is “heritage” & not religious practice? So says Tokong Lim Guan Eng
Rather than defending freedom of religion in the Penang State Legislative Assembly when Penang Opposition Leader Datuk Jahara Hamid demanded that a Taoist shrine be removed from the Armenian Park, I am disappointed that Lim Guan Eng in his capacity as Chief Minister dared not stick by his guns to defend this custom, belief and practice of the Chinese of making peace with the local spirits etc. The Chief Minister is doing injustice and diminishing our rights by saying that “the shrine was considered a heritage object rather than defending it as a religious right (The Star Online, 14 May 2016.)”
It is strange that he declares the shrine is there because it is a heritage rather than it has a right to be there as a matter of religious rights. It is common knowledge and accepted practice that any devotee who mounts a shrine (and such shrines are found all over), is to offer prayers and PEACE offerings to the spirits and hence it is a religious practice in nature.
Is LGE afraid of offending the "some Muslims" whom Jahara said might BE confused at the presence of the shrine. His explanation is an act of COWARDICE at the expense of Taoists? Rather than tackle Jahara head-on by referring to the Constitutional rights of minorities, LGE is finding some excuse or middle ground to appease Jahara.
Why is he avoiding and evading his responsibility when duty calls upon him to state and assert our OBVIOUS rights whereas he has so often called upon MCA to stand up, fight and defend such rights? Such an excuse should not even be conceived much less provided during the DUN debates of which the Chief Minister holds court.
Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. Article 11 provides that every person has the right to profess and to practice his or her religion.
When the Chief Minister converts our rights and freedom into just a right base on "heritage," this is shocking and smells of cowardice. If the Secretary General of DAP who has been vocal and advocating radically on the rights of minority fails in his capacity as the Chief Minister of Penang to defend minority rights when challenged by just an UMNO ADUN, then I am calling him a COWARD, (a freaking coward).
As Secretary General, Guan Eng or DAP, he will be courageously advocating radically on minority rights and freedoms and pass the buck to MCA. Sadly when taken to task by just an UMNO ADUN or challenged to protect our liberties and rights to practice our religion, the Tokong chose the easy way out. He freaked out avoided, evaded and try to escape.
Instead of standing up to defend the defensible rights, the Chief Minister of Penang had in cowardice diminished and converted our rights to practice our religion to just a "heritage rights" or "a right only when the shrine is there".
What RUBBISH from our heroic LGE? I want him to apologise to all the Penangites who believes in the “Dato Kong shrine” which is a practice meant to make peace, respect and exist harmoniously with the local spirits. He must to rectify his mistake and do justice to the believers.
His evasive attempt to avoid and run away from his duty to defend such practices is an act of COWARDICE. I dare him to come out in the open and acknowledge that the "Dato Kong shrine" is a fundamental right and liberty guaranteed to the people in Malaysia under Article 11 and not reduce or diminish our rights to only a right if it is a heritage or if there was an existing shrine earlier.
Dato’ Sri Ti Lian Ker
MCA Religious Harmony Bureau Chairman
MCA Central Committee Member
MCA Kuantan Division Chairman