the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.



I WAS about to click "Publish" when my index finger froze.

All that talk about the (il)legality of off or online 'speech', (self)censorship...

It was this bit (okay, it's a chunk, an insighful one) by chez 1978 that gave me pause for thought:

The interesting bit is whether the site becomes a private or public space. You know, if what is illegal offline is illegal online, I wonder if all this gathering in virtual space counts as illegal assembly. Would we have to apply permits if we call an assembly in chatrooms?

If physical assembly is the crucial recipe, then what is to deny us the same application in the instance of public and private speech? Contrary to many Malaysians who believe that the internet and the real world are the same, the cyberspace is actually a unique medium. O'Brien (see links) included secret to the mix, but the point is what I have been trying to yell at you guys for some time now - the real world and the virtual world have very different boundaries. Does the internet spell the end of private speech? How can we keep free speech alive, when there is no way to keep it at all by the definition of our some enthusiasts for law and order?

For one thing, she raises a rather fundamental question as to whether or not the Internet is a public sphere. (for those inclined to examine this issue, a logical place to start would be 'Habermas and the Public Sphere' - just google it).

The other thing – that bit on information poisoning - it brought back memories of my expatriate days in Brunei, where all non-Muslim eateries are legally required to prominently display this sign:


The same law applies for supemarkets, where non-halal goods may only be displayed and sold in a separate room.

But coming back to what I was about to publish - an article that came in last Sunday's church bulletin... it's a document issued by The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia. An informative piece titled:


Not exactly hot-off-the-press news, I know, but I think it's every bit as relevant today as when the Sharmala Sathyaseelan case - a case concerning denial of religious freedom - went to court a couple of years ago.

One more thing is relevant here. Another disclaimer (so tiresome, isn't it?)

The point of this post is not to stir up or ressurect anything. It is merely a reminder that in all matters, particularly those concerning faith and conversion, please do make an informed choice and look before you leap.

Oh Wait. In the spirit of the moment (ahem!) it might be prudent at this juncture, to state very clearly:


(pardon the bad Malay. The language, I mean )

Now, I haven't been able to locate an online version, (if anyone knows, please point me there) so I am reproducing it here, verbatim:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
If you convert to Islam, there are important changes in your legal status and what you can or cannot do.

Your conversion to Islam will be registered with the Religious Department and the National Registration Department, both of which are computerised so access to this information is available throughout the country.

Under Syariah enactments of most of the 13 states of Malaysia;
Conversion back to your former religion is either
a) not allowed under the law, or b) a criminal offence which means that you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned under most State Islamic laws.

If you are under 18 years of age, you require your parents permission to convert to Islam. Your identity card will record your conversion to Islam.
Therefore, even if you are no longer practising, you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned for violation of Syariah laws such as praying in Church, eating in public during fasting month, "khalwat", etc.

You cannot marry a non-Muslim. If you decide to divorce and attempt to convert out of Islam, you will lose custody of your children because they are Muslims.
Upon death, your non-Muslim relatives will lose their rights to any property, money etc, that you want to leave to them. The corpse of a convert to Islam will be taken away from his or her non-Muslim family for Islamic rites and burial even if you have not been a practising Muslim for many years.
In the event that your spouse converts to Islam, you may have no right to either your children or your spouse's property.

We know that certain Christians who convert to Islam for whatever reason, are not aware of or do not consider seriously the implications of such conversion. Hence the need to inform you.
By this, we are neither against Islam nor freedom of religion, which is guaranteed for all Malaysians in article 11 of our Constitution which gives the right to an individual to choose freely his or her religion.
But to choose correctly, you need to know clearly what you choose and the consequences of your choice.

Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (KL),
Bishop Antony Selvanayagam (Penang)
Bishop Paul Tan, SJ (Melaka-Johor).

Okay, that's it.

By the way, something else chez said bears repeating:

Now that most of us are now focusing on the sedition act, it is already admitting the remarks of "Good Man" as evidence for its malice intent.

Well, let me just put it this way, I WISH THE SAME LAW CAN BE APPLIED TO INFORMATION POISONING ON THE INTERNET, BLOGGER OR NO BLOGGER. But I won't support it, why? Because I do not agree with our laws who threatens to send people to jail for being stupid.



Blogger Lucia Lai said...

quote: "The point of this post is not to stir up or ressurect anything. It is merely a reminder that...."

now why can't some people see that. when i blog on something negative on say islam, it doesn't mean i am belittling islam or as some self righteous people will say 'trying to cause disharmony between non muslim and muslim'.does everything has to be so perfect to them (self righteous people) that we should NOT give constructive criticisms or negative remarks on each other's race/religion?

percolator, the message from the bishops re: converting to islam was taken from the herald paper right? well, the herald is online but one has to be a paying member to read the paper online (just like malaysikini). remember i told you once my office sub to the herald, which means i can get any articles from the herald online for you if you want it (so that you don't have to retype it).

say, this post of yours might prompt me to blog on some related topic, that we see happening yesterday.

1:54 PM  
Blogger percolator said...


Actually it was printed on the same piece of paper that featured SVP activities, SIC (another parish) FamilyDday, Stella Maris registrations and such.. so I don't know if it appeared in The Herald. Actually, I haven't had time to read the last 4 issues.

Yeah, with so many 'good people' stirring up a storm in a tea cup... what to do, disclaimer loh!

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Image" is what you earn. Or should I say, "prestige", is actually a better word. You end up with the right impression as you have earned it. Cause and Effect.

"Sensitivity" is not anyone's sole prerogative to claim - it's no body's special right but some people conditioned to put the cart b4 the horse tend to presume is theirs.

The fault line of irrationality begins with the virus of false pride lacking substance...where else can absolutism lead to except irrationality?


12:28 PM  
Anonymous yvy said...

exactly lucia...

i mentioned somewhat the same thing in lucia's blog too. this piece of info is in NO WAY condemning the Islam but many will somehow feel the pinch (sapa makan cili, dia rasa pedas case, i think). this IS a sensitive issue n there are LOADS of sensitive ppl out there so really, i wont be suprised to see ppl jumping up & down abt this matter.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it'll be actually drugged and prideful people jumping up and down....


12:35 PM  
Blogger Calentropus said...

Muslims are very sensitive about their religion, for very many reason. Wits0 may say that it's no one's special prerogative, or that it leads to irrationality. I agree with that, actually.

But what others think does not change that fact that Muslims are very sensitive. So, unless you are prepared to engage in all sorts of arduous, convoluted, and neverending discourse, it is best to just not talk about it.

There are so many other better things to talk about.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Muslims are very sensitive about their religion, for very many reason."

One can understand that but that does not amount to agreeing with them.

In a Give and Take Universe however, everyone must grow up. Merely believing cannot turn the Moon, e.g., into green cheese.


12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found out the easiest way to get married to an Islam lady or man is to get married out of Malaysia.

I' know a person from Indonesia.
When he migrated to Australia, he got married and made his millions there.

But when he needed a bone marrow transplant and thus shifted to Malaysia to make the process easier (His donor was a Malaysian) but before he could get his transplant, he knew he was going to die.

Immediatelly, everybody got him out of Malaysia and to Singapore.(The nearest place) and there he passed away.

The reason he didn't want to die in Malaysia is because he's an Islam and if he died in Malaysia, he knew his assets would all be taken by the goverment.

This would leave his children and wife with nothing, because they aren't Islams.

They never converted.

In fact, nobody in the family knew he was an Islam except his brothers who had earlier converted to Christianity and Buddhism already.

So I guess it's true that only Malaysia has such strict rulings, whereas in other country they don't really care much.


10:58 AM  
Blogger percolator said...

"One can understand that but that does not amount to agreeing with them."
Just as merely saying something like: "I am dedicating my life to helping in any little way I can" does not amount to having done anything (other than making an unproven claim), much less amount to advocacy. And like merely saying:My blog stresses the freedom of expression.. DOES NOT amount to even understanding the FOS concept, nvm recognising it.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The judgement of "no exit" is nothing representing any profound understanding about human freedom.

It's the real solid spanner in the works against making any further fatuous claim of niceity which will also be dishonest and against the essential grains of truth.

From this point alone the universe inverts itself while claiming to all asserted morality. No buy.


12:56 PM  

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