MCA Religious Harmony bureau chairman Ti Lian Ker is the foremost defender of Taoist shrines and Chinese religious rights.
He is raising a hue and cry at Jahara Hamid – who is Penang opposition leader representing Umno – over a tokong controversy in Lebuh Armenian where Guan Eng put words into her mouth that she did not say. And unsurprisingly, MCA sided with DAP … but what else.
Actually MCA’s Ti had misfired again. It is not at all an issue of “defending freedom of religion” as he had parsed it.
The real issue as highlighted by Jahara is whether it is appropriate for a shrine to be in a public park.
(My personal opinion is that if the Datuk Kong has been sitting there the past 70 years, then in the spirit of give and take, the authorities should leave him be.)
DAP being typically troublemaker
Guan Eng is being a sneaky bastard – as always – in accusing Jahara of seeking for the shrine to be destroyed or demolished.
Jahara may have offended some sensitivities when she said, “It is not necessary for it to be there”. What she said, however, does not amount to a demand for the shrine to be “destroyed” as Guan Eng has alleged.
From past experience, we know that there have been cases of Hindu temple relocation in recent years. Their resident deities were respectfully removed after proper religious rites were conducted by priests, and transferred to new replacement temples built in a different area. MIC and Hindraf can attest to this.
With regard to the Armenian Park shrine, it is for Penang to come to an amicable solution.
As state chief minister, Guan Eng should have promoted the spirit of discussion and compromise between adherents of different faiths. It was instead irresponsible for him to twist Jahara’s words to impute the most damaging and callous interpretation to what he might have meant.
Guan Eng’s act of adding fuel to fire shows him to be only a troublemaker who prefers to stoke tensions and incite religious hatred against Umno.
MCA is worse!
I don’t see why MCA failed to investigate the incident more in-depth and cross check first with the Hansard (to determine what exactly Jahara had said) before jumping into the fray and joining forces with DAP to bash Jahara.
Another sin of MCA is to misrepresent the flap as Umno trying to curtail the freedom of religion. I repeat — it’s really an issue of the appropriateness of a shrine to be sited in a public park.
It just so happens that in this particular instance, the shrine is connected to a local Chinese folk belief.
But it could well have been a Hindu shrine or a Melayu ajaran sesat teapot shrine such as something like Ayah Pin’s project. Whatever the faith or belief connected to the shrine, the fundamental is the same, i.e. whether on principle we want to have shrines located in public parks.
Or alternatively, one solution is to design the boundaries of the park to skirt the “heritage” shrine and leaving the Datuk Kong secluded in peace.
BELOW: The current MCA leadership seems fine with the relationship below
Nonetheless rather than mitigating the solution, MCA made it worse by similarly accusing Jaharta of ill-intent. MCA is merely pandering to the Chinese ultras and indirectly (unintentionally or otherwise?) in cahoots with the DAP.
And this is not the first time either that MCA is off mark.
Not too long ago, MCA accused Ridhuan Tee of having “exhorted his hopes of seeing a Chinese Muslim ‘President’ leading Umno or PAS one day” — this is a false accusation. Ridhuan did not say that. See, ‘Who is MCA’s enemy? Ridhuan Tee or DAP?‘
It’s becoming too obvious that MCA chooses to continuously attack Umno while letting DAP off the hook. I don’t recall MCA’s Ti Lian Ker raising any objection when late last year a DAP Member of Parliament was blatantly biadab at a temple dinner.
BELOW: Kasthuri Patto is the DAP rep in Parliament for Batu Kawan, Penang
Kasthuri Patto’s Facebook url of 11 Sept 2015 here.
For the record, screenshot here.