The Natrah religious riot rocked Singapore for three days beginning 11 Dec 1950, killing 18 people and injuring 173. The 13-year-old Dutch girl whose fate sparked the rioting is known to Christians as Maria Bertha Hertogh and to Muslims as Natrah (also spelled Nadra).
Heightened sentiments stemming from the Natrah court hearing were further aggravated by the newspaper war (English language versus Malay language paper). On Dec 5, the Singapore Standard published on its page 2 the headline ‘Bertha Knelt Before Virgin Mary Statue‘.
Bertha aka Natrah had been put in the Convent of the Good Shepherd pending the appeal by Natrah’s foster mother Aminah Mohamed.
Utusan Melayu responded on Dec 7 with photographs of Natrah weeping. There is also one showing her looking melancholic sitting beside a nun.
The custody battle for Natrah became a proxy fight between the contending spheres of influence of Christianity and Islam.
The English-speaking ruling cliques in Singapore were clueless as to the depth of Muslim sentiments.
They displayed a pronounced lack of understanding with regard to how seriously the Malays in both Singapore and Malaya – the foster mother Aminah lived in Terengganu – viewed the matter of apostasy. In this case, the fact that the apostasy had been forced on the girl who was brought up a Muslim and speaking Malay, only compounded the grievances.
The manner in which the Christian colonialists (European elites and local Eurasians) handled the affair was one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of the riot.
There were no bloody riots by the Malays either when Singapore was severed from peninsular Malaya to become a Crown Colony in 1946. There was nothing in Sarawak that matched the scale of the Natrah quake even though the Muslims there opposed the cession of their state by the third Raja Brooke to the British Crown that same year.
But the Malays rioted four years later over the faith conversion of a young girl.
Self-proclaimed “high class” evangelistas equally clueless
“Whatever is next?
No worship services for Christians in Malay in this country?
Or perhaps a government official will make audio, video and photographic recordings of each and every service in Malay in this country? Just to find evidence of conversion, conspiracy and the like?
Or maybe set up an anti-Christian panel comprising people like Ibrahim Ali, Helen Ang, Syed Akbar Ali and the like to put the Christians ‘in their rightful place’?”
When Christian crusaders like Terence Martin (author of passage cited above) issue a defiant dare for his ‘dovish’ flock to be “put in their rightful place”, does he think that the thought has not already crossed anybody’s mind?
If hudud were to be implemented, one should not be surprised that some DAP born-again, Anglophile Christians will be the first to be charged under the same kind of blasphemy law found in Pakistan, Iran and Saharan countries currently controlled by Muslim fundamentalists.
How to enable hudud?
The heavy penalties imposed by hudud, such as those enacted by the PAS state governments in Kelantan and Terengganu, are ultra vires the Federal Constitution.
Schedule 9, List II, Item 1 of the the Constitution says that syariah courts “shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law”.
Legal experts explain that almost the entire field of criminal law come under the authority of the federal government.
“The relevant federal law is the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. It confines jurisdiction to such offences as are punishable with maximum three years jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes (source: Malaysian Bar Council website).
The powers of the state assembly to legislate for corporal punishment is limited and does not extend to chopping off one’s hands and feet.
Amending the Constitution requires a vote by two-thirds of the sitting MPs. To realise hudud, 148 votes are required in Parliament.
At present, there are an estimated 130 Muslim MPs.
They are 22 from PAS, 76 from Umno (with the exception of Ronald Kiandee), 16 from PKR, 10 from PBB (including Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah) as well as 5 ‘independents’ (Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Nordin & Co.).
The 130 figure cited also includes Upko’s Siringan bin Gubat who is the MP for Ranau in Sabah (confirmation needed).
This number is 18 MPs short of two-thirds in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.
Eighteen is really no big hurdle as electoral fortunes are capable of taking wide pendulum swings.
DAP, a forked tongue chameleon
The photo above shows a sole DAP evangelist amidst many Muslims. But who looks like the alpha female in the group, you think?
In 2004, PKR won only one seat — in Permatang Pauh. On 8 March 2008, candidates on the PKR ticket claimed 31 seats. Going from one to 31 is a quantum leap of 30 seats. Yet in the matter of a mere couple of years, PKR quickly lost 8 of its MPs (easy come, easy go …).
Banking on the safety margin of 18 Muslim MPs is a DAP tricky guarantee that should not be relied on at all.
Come GE13, the dynamics will assuredly change, for example following the maelstrom in Sabah or if Umno took over some of the Malay-majority seats that had been contested previously by its MCA, MIC and Gerakan partners. DAP may also give over a few of its Chinese seats for the token Malay to serve as the party’s multiracial window-dressing.
As for Umno, it can only improve on its low-ebb 2008 performance. This outcome is a surer bet than trusting in DAP to contain PAS’s Islamic state ambition. The influence of ‘pro-unity’ ustaz Nasha and the ulama and radical Youth factions in the Islamist party cannot be dismissed.
The anticipated steep losses by PKR will also add to the BN MP tally and we should not discount the possibility that the coalition’s non-Muslim representatives may be compelled to obey the party whip (read Umno).
For Chua Soi Lek’s jibe that the letters in the word ‘CHANGE’ stand for Choose Hudud At Next General Election, the MCA president has come under vicious attack by Pakatan on his allegedly anti-Islam stance.
Accusing MCA of being anti-Islam is a dangerous ploy by the DAP that will backfire.
Compared to MCA which has been Umno’s ally for 60 years, it is the Chinese-cum-Christian dominated opposition party that is seen as more anti-Malay and against Islam. Utusan‘s series of front pages assigning the “kafir harbi” tag to DAP is testament to this.
MPs from DAP make up a large portion of the current estimated 38-40 Christian MPs in the House. There will most certainly be even more DAP noisy Christian lawmakers after the next general election.
Is there any reason for the Malays and Muslims to want to band together?
There is, should they feel that the position of their race and of Islam in the country is threatened.
Already the percentage of 18% Christian national legislators is double the ostensible 9 percent of Christians in the total Malaysian population, indicating that the Christians are influential beyond their stated numbers.
Then there was also the nomination of Christian native assemblyman Baru Bian as the chief minister should Pakatan win Sarawak. The Christian majority in Malaysia’s largest state, who additionally possess ‘pribumi’ status, are legitimate contenders for the post of prime minister.
Do not forget that Pakatan’s Kuching Declaration promises to increase the importance of Sabah and Sarawak by conferring each an equal weight to the peninsula, meaning Malaysia becomes a trinity (peninsula + Sabah + Sarawak) and not a 14-constituent federation (12 peninsular states + 2 Bornean states).
Sabah and Sarawak have a lot of Christians. Who pray to Allah.
And DAP has been agitating them. DAP is playing with the Holy Spirit — which is fire.