Friday, May 23, 2008


It was indeed a pleasure and memorable to attend my sister’s graduation in West Sumatra recently. Yes my little sister finally graduated as a Medical Doctor from the Universitas Andalas, Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia – for me she was a person who was much focused, determined and never say die as I have seen how she struggled in achieving her and my parents dreams in becoming a Medical Doctor.

What I am going to write today has got nothing to do with her graduation, but, what happened during her graduation. Not only it impressed me, but, it made me surprised, shocked and unbelievable. I sure as my friends who have been following my writings you would also be shocked (If you are a Malaysian – you will be shocked even more).

This is a true story and not written just for the sake of writing;

Indonesia it is not an Islamic state, however, it is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with almost 86% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 consensus. 11 % of the population is Christian, 2% are Hindu, and 1% Buddhist.

With such a huge Muslim population, I would imagine that they would be very strict and would be guided with plenty of Islamic Laws which is being practiced not only in Malaysia but many other Islamic state or nation.

I don’t know if I should say I was shocked or surprised when I saw the Vice Chancellor (a Muslim) handing over a copy of Bhagavad-Gita (a Hindu religious book) along with the scroll to her. Not only did my sister receive her Bhagavad-Gita, her friend, a Christian girl received a Bible.

I asked my sister if this is the normal procedures during graduation. She said YES and not only that, she went on to say that, she was also asked to take an oath in front of a Hindu priest on the day she received her status as a Medical Doctor.

AMAZING!!! Can this ever happen in TANAH TUMPAH NYA DARAH KU (The Land that I will die for)

At that moment, I was speechless, confused and shocked. A country with nearly 86% Muslim population is so very liberal and all this while I was under the impression that a Muslim cannot touch Bhagavad-Gita or a Bible and I learnt in Indonesia that it was wrong of me to think like that.

Now, I wonder if in Indonesia this is possible, can this be possible in Malaysia?

Would a Muslim become a Hindu or a Christian buy just handing over a Bhagavad-Gita or a Bible to a Hindu or Christian?

Will there be a day when a Vice Chancellor from a Public or Private University in Malaysia do the same thing which was done by the Vice Chancellor of the Universitas Andalas?

Although my sister did mention to me that she has to buy the Bhagavad-Gita herself and pass it on to the University, I guess for me it does not matter – but what is important is the fact that the University has got an excellent way to show their acceptance of any person’s religion and there would not be any favouritism shown to any students.



Is the first principle of RUKUNEGARA (Principles of the Nation). This means that we need to believe in GOD, irrespective of what religion we are. That line could also mean that we need to respect other religion as well in this country. It would be nice for us to start this system in the Malaysia by requesting the Malaysian University to implement what’s being done by our neighbours.

We should not be shy in copying certain action which is being implemented by our neighbours if it can bring UNITY amongst ALL MALAYSIANS.

I am sure buy a Muslim giving away a Bible or Bhagavad-Gita it would not make him a Christian or a Hindu and vice-versa.


Anonymous said...

Heartiest congratulation to your sister and all your family members.

A good practice that Malaysian must emaluate. When I was visiting Morrocco couple of years back, a muslim lady whom previously visited Malaysia as OIC delegate commented that level of non muslim tolerance is amazing as the country heading towards extremism.

While we respect the majority feeling, the majority also must reciprocal it. It had to be two way. When I was undergraduate at local U, hostel management serves mutton for Indian. Unfortunately, it was served using as laddle . Imagine!!!!

I had seen in some muslim countries leading hotels serves beef and porks in same table while here ?????

Brother said...

Hi there,

Firstly, you should have check the Malaysian constitution and Indonesian constitution and also Pancasila.

Secondly, I don't get it when you said how liberal people in Indonesia regarding their religion. I mean if you thinking that a hindu getting Bhagavad-Gita, a christian getting a bible, and a muslim getting a Quran is liberal, I think you're a bit confused.

If however, you referring the act of the "Vice Chancellor (a Muslim) handing over a copy of Bhagavad-Gita (a Hindu religious book)" to you hindu sister is liberal, I think you're a confused with cultural and the teachings of Islam itself.

Look, I am a malay muslim, and I read bible and also touch it, eventhough I have difficulties reading Bhagavad-Gita since most bookstores does'nt have it, and a few who does have it, is wrapped nicely.

And by the way, having friend with Hindu throughout my life hardly I met one who read it despite claiming that they're Hindus.

Of course, here in Malaysia, majority of Muslim think that it's wrong and sin to touch other people sacred text such as bible and Bhagavad-Gita, but this is only cultural and ignorance perception made famous by our religous scholar.

Premnath said...

Nevermind HANDING OVER baghavad geetha or bible, I'd be pleasantly surprised if they even had it in the university library. The one I went to didn't.

Tai Kah Cheh said...

My Tambi,

There's really nothing to be surprised of. Yes, I have travelled much and have seen many countries are much more open than Malaysia although we always advocate to the world how liberal & tolerance we are as a multi-religious, cultural, etnic, etc country.
I need not go far to cite an example..this is real at my own home, my own tambi who has converted to muslim. While we all are very tolerance to him,i.e. thinking of him whenever we have our meals to make sure it's halal; making sure that there's a mosque nearby the dinner venue so he can obediently perform his maghrib or isyak prayers, etc, etc. But, I am very disappointed or rather my parents are heartbroken to see how a beautiful & much respected religion has transformed my tambi. He doesn't come home anymore, he prefers to keep a distance from his subblings - for reasons only know to him or God! Does his God forbid him? No, I don't think so. Does his teachers say so? I don't have the answers and I am still looking for one!
I have also wonder if we are staying in a country other than Malaysia, would we all stay under one roof, and meet-up every weekend and talk like we used to? Ehm, a line seems to have been drawn here separating us and therefore chances are REMOTE!

< naga > said...

Yea so much for a country which banned its non-Muslims to pronounce the word Allah and Al-Quran (It did this last year). So, yes, we will are in fact going backwards in terms of civil thinking.

Yuvan said...

Dear Kamalanathan,

There's nothing to be shocked, surprised or confused about these things. Indonesia with the largest muslim population in the world is quite liberal in its thinking and practices. India, the largest hindu democracy in the world is more liberal. India can have a muslim as the PM or President. It's a pity that we in Malaysia cannot even dream of having a non-Malay (i.e.non-muslim) as a PM. Do you know why? It has nothing to do with religion! It is because of the extreme narrow mindedness and absolute lack of maturity and tolerance of our political leaders to handle these issues. While the whole world is moving forward in matters like these, we in Malaysia are definitely going backward without any shame.

tamilkingdom said...

Good Day Kamalanathan,

Congrats to your family on the new Graduate of the family.It's great to know that you've picked up on this subject eventhough it's a taboo to many Malaysians.

Well,all i can say it's a pity and sad that Malaysia has never been it that path unlike Indonesia or even Turkey.

This can be only be pointed to the goverment all this years.Pas did not rule all this years it was....

According to many elders,the tolerence of minorities was very high back then but eroded gradually.

While all this was happening,our own leaders who proclaim to be fighting for our rights kept their mouth and ....queit.

Now when the fire is hot,than everyone complains about the heat but never complaint about the fire while it was small.

Well like they always say,BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.We still have a liveline by educating our young by bringing them closer regardless of race and religion.

Than everyone born in Tanah Air will and should be proud of it!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kamalanathan,

Not surprising at all actually.

However, in Malaysia, insecure UMNOputera extermism will never allow it - MIC will only let it grow all these years by keeping quiet.

I wonder if you would have wrote about this before GE2008 or would have used the excuse that your sister had not graduated therefore you were ignorant of the practice. Surprising no one else picked it up during thier lawatan sambil belajar world over!

Nevertheless, congratulations to your sister and hope she contributes to the society on a personal basis.


President said...

Heartiest congratulation to your sister and all your family members.

As a Graduate from Indonesia Medical University,I would like to share silimar thought with our co-bloggers.

In Indonesia,most of the tradition is Hindu bases or Indian origin an they are proud of their mixed culture unlike Malaysia, whereby Lembah Bujang in Kedah goes missing in our Sejarah ( History) text book and Paremeswara convert to Islam, but the reality is he dies as a Hindu Prince and even his succesor was a Hindu King.

Indonesian proud of saying this, but in Malaysia our mind has been twisted into illusion and dreamways.

I would like to request our chief to start emhpasis Malaysia goverment to stop lies bout Indian and Hindu origin in Malaysia and save some pride for our next generation, my full support for u chief.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kamalanathan;

I was in jakarta recently and found it to be a very liberal city. The women folk hardly wear the tudung and the nite life was truly amazing!! Soon, it may rival bangkok. Now, if the President is far sighted, he should introduce English in schools and within one generation Indonesia would be able to attract foreign investors who because of language problems are presently shying away.
I am also of the view that the fact the mother tongue of the chinase indonesians is not spoken has enabled the society to become homogenous, a matter we here in Malaysia should seriously consider.

Legal Eagle

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