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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Utusan and the Case of the Imaginary Council

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Walski honestly doesn't know whether to laugh, or laugh till he cries. This is what Utusan Malaysia carried as their front page story today (annotated by myAsylum).

Image hosting by PhotobucketMisreporting lies, or just plain lies?

Whichever way you look at it, they really should consider changing their tagline from Penyebar Minda Rakyat to Penyebar Fitnah Rakyat. The story they carried is so wrong, on so many levels. Stupidly wrong. No, make that idiotic. It's as if Utusan were too busy playing with their Pee-Pee to notice that it may have been a good idea to verify stories before they go to print.

Worse, it brings up another question - if the reporting were accurate (albeit irresponsible) - what the heck were MAINPP (another fine acronym from Penang) thinking, making flailing accusations without verifying those accusations first? Busy playing with their Pee-Pee? Walski dare not even guess... 

Walski's reaction to this latest bit of Utusan stupidity is the same as what he thought when the news about Chua Soi Lek being investigated for the "crime" of oral sex broke yesterday - this story really blows.
(DAP bites back, and more, in the full post)

But before you go wondering what's all this about playing with Pee-Pee's and such... MAINPP is the unfortunate acronym for Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Pulau Pinang - or the Pulau Pinang (or Penang) State Religious Council. Unfortunate, because MAIN is a Bahasa Malaysia word which means play. So there... you Bahasa-illiterate folks are now on the same page.

The Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng (who presumably does not play with his Pee-Pee while on the job) has said that he will file a defamation suit against Utusan for publishing the story, which he says is one big lie. Why a lie? Because there is no such council in his state government (as reported by Malaysiakini - except for the part about the Pee-Pee).

You would have thought that before publishing such a accusatory story, Utusan would have bothered to check the accuracy first, right? That's like Remedial Journalism for News Flunkies, almost.

But here's the thing - as what Walski had asked before - what if Utusan's reporting were accurate? And that what was printed was exactly what Shabudin Yahaya, MAINPP president, said? That would be a can of worms of a whole different magnitude.

While Walski goes look for a can opener, here's what was reported by Utusan - translation (in this color), and any emphasis, by myAsylum (a PDF copy of the report can be downloaded here):

Nibong Tebal 23 Feb. - Penubuhan Majlis Perundingan Antara Agama oleh kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang mesti dihentikan kerana ia meletakkan Islam sama taraf dengan agama-agama lain.

Nibong Tebal 23 Feb. - The setting up of an Inter-Faith Council by the Pulau Pinang state government must be stopped because it puts Islam on the same level as other religions.

Yang Dipertua Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Pulau Pinang (MAINPP), Shabudin Yahaya berkata,cubaan menyamakan Islam dengan fahaman agama lain ternyata menghina Islam dan tindakan seperti itu mesti dihentikan.

President of the Pulau Pinang State Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP), Shabudin Yahaya said, the attempt to put Islam on equal footing with other religions is a clear insult to Islam, and such actions must cease.

Katanya, MAINPP berasa cukup tersinggung apabila ada beberapa ahli jawatankuasa (AJK) majlis tersebut terdiri daripada orang Melayu.

He said, MAINPP felt very slighted when a few of the council committee members were Malays.

‘‘Saya difahamkan ada tiga orang AJK Melayu beragama Islam duduk dalam majlis tersebut yang kononnya mahu menuntut kesamarataan agama.

"I have been made to understand that there are three Malays, of the Islamic faith, sitting as committee members in the council, which, it seems, claims equality of religions.

‘‘Ini sesuatu yang cukup menakutkan kerana agama Islam dipandang sama seperti Buddha yang diasaskan oleh manusia bernama Gautama Buddha, disamakan juga dengan Kristian, Taoism dan Bahai,” katanya.

"This is something that is really terrifying because Islam is seen as equal to Buddhism, that was established by a man named Gautama Buddha, which is also equated to Christianity, Taoism, and Bahai," he said.

Beliau berkata demikian kepada Utusan Malaysia ketika diminta mengulas ucapannya semasa majlis penyerahan Dana Zakat Program Didik Cemerlang Akademik 2009 di Sungai Dua di sini semalam.

This was stated by him to Utusan Malaysia when asked to comment on his speech during the presentation ceremony of the Tithes Fund for the 2009 Acedemic Excellence Guidance Program, at Sungai Dua here yesterday.

Ketika berucap pada majlis tersebut, Shabudin melahirkan rasa kurang senangnya terhadap penubuhan Majlis Perundingan Antara Agama Pulau Pinang yang bertujuan meletakkan semua agama, termasuk agama Islam sebagai sama rata dengan agama-agama lain.

During his speech at the ceremony, Shabudin expressed his dissatisfaction on the setting up of the Pulau Pinang Inter-Faith Council, whose purpose was to put all religions, including Islam, as being equal.

Majlis tersebut ditubuhkan tahun lalu iaitu selepas kerajaan pakatan pembangkang yang diterajui Ketua Menteri, Lim Guan Eng mula memerintah negeri itu.

The council was set up last year, after the opposition front government, headed by Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, started governing the state.

Majlis itu dipengerusikan Guan Eng sendiri. Mengulas lanjut, Shabudin yang juga Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Permatang Berangan, Tasek Gelugor berkata, agama Islam itu tinggi dan tidak ada yang lebih tinggi daripadanya.

The council is chaired personally by Guan Eng. Commenting further, Shabudin, who is also State Legislature Representative for Permatang Berangan, Tasek Gelugor, said, Islam is supreme, and there is no other above it.
(source: Utusan Malaysia front page story, February 24, 2009)

Okay, Walski's found the can opener... but rather than rehash or comment on the Islamic supremacy bit, let's scrutinize the report (to use the term loosely) a little, shall we?

It's quite obvious which part of the report would make Lim Guan Eng fume, being that the Chief Minister has denied the existence of such a council. If indeed Guan Eng is being accused of chairing an imaginary council, that would be slanderous. Not only that, to publicly make such a statement is really loony tunes idiotic.

In the report, it was also stated that MAINPP President Shabudin Yahaya is the state assemblyman for the Permatang Berangan district, making Shabudin an UMNO person. So, what the hell is the state religious council doing being politically partisan?

Ironically, the word "berangan", as in the place name Permatang Berangan, apart from meaning 'chestnut', can also mean fantasizing. Which appears to be exactly what Shabudin Yahaya was doing, in conjuring up a council that doesn't exist. Fantasizing is what one also commonly does when playing with their Pee-Pee. But let's not get too far off-topic.

Either that, or the man was plainly, and simply, lying. While in his capacity as President of the state Islamic religious council, no less. Last Walski checked, lying is still a sin. In any religion, including Islam.

See what happens when politics is mixed with religion? Everybody's reputation gets soiled with plenty of Pee-Pee stains. Upon closer scrutiny, this is a case where UMNO is blatantly using an Islamic religious institution to incite fear and hatred. And they know exactly which buttons to push.

And as far as inciting religious fear and hatred, UMNO is as much guilty of seditous incitement as anyone else. Fanning the fire, of course, is their own sorry excuse for a newspaper, Utusan - the purveyor of lies to the people (which is loosely what Penyebar Fitnah Rakyat translates to).

The damage, Walski's afraid, may already have been done. There are a lot of Malays who believe whatever's printed in the Utusan, as if it were divinely revealed stuff. Especially when the person making the claims is the president of the state religious council. No verification necessary... just swallow, and ask for more blessings... hook, line, and Pee-Pee sinker.

Or, more aptly in this case, stinker.