- The government was not responsible for the arson attack. Of course, one could claim the government is ultimately responsible, but that is like saying the government of Kelantan should be blamed for flooding in the state!
- On the above, paying the RM500k gives the impression that the government is taking ultimate responsibility for the arson attack!
- If the government wanted to do something for the church to ease their suffering, they needn't have bothered with the RM500k as to churches in Malaysia, permits to locate churches are more valuable than money, and the Metro Tabernacle has been applying to relocate. Just expedite it for them!
- The church premises would have been insured. So, what with the intentions to relocate and everything, this arson attack may have been a boon for the church insurance wise! What is then the need for the government to shore up the church's finances with public money?
- The Metro Tabernacle could have just made a claim to the largest landowner on Earth for damages, the largest landowner being the Roman Catholic Church! What with the church attack being due to the Catholic Herald magazine's court case in the first place, I think they have a case!
But all the above is not as big a deal as the precedent the government pay-out to the Metro Tabernacle creates and its potential impact:
- Does this imply that the government will pay out to all churches or other related institutions (schools, seminaries, etc) that suffer significant damage from protests over the Herald's case?
- Does this give the Hindus the right to now claim compensation for the various temples demolished by state agencies, even if they were inappropriately sited? Again, the issue here could be resolved just by sorting out the permits for specific locations.
- Does this not encourage arson for the sake of gaining state funds for rebuilding? Even the publicity, getting a whole bunch of ministers to suddenly appear in churches and other places of worship they would not have been to otherwise! Some would say even this has value...
- The trend of giving assistance to the affected churches will emerge among corporate entities, and it is regrettable it began with one from a GLC being run by the PM's brother! This will further enhance the possibility of increased arson for profit of one form or another.
But going back to the source of this violence, escalating Malay anger over the robbing of the right to use of the word Allah, this act by the government:
- Will again be seen as the government being apologetic rather than addressing issues distressing Malays.
- Will open the door to accusations that the government is now bringing the state's treatment of other religions on par with Islam which is the only religion acknowledged by the constitution. This is extremely dangerous.
- TS Koh Tsu Koon's idea of now having an 'interfaith dialogue', whilst sounding nice to liberal sensibilities, will just inflame matters. Malays will see no reason to dialogue as they see themselves as having given up enough already and suspicions will arise that TS Koh is reviving the IFC idea. This WILL NOT STOP THE VIOLENCE! In fact, it may make it worse!
How then could this violence cease:
- The PM should invite the Rulers to intervene to bring the matter out of the court. The Rulers can then constitutionally put a halt to the Herald's case. This will appease Malays across many fronts, not just by dismissing the issue but also by demonstrating the presence of Malay power to address their concerns still.
- The Herald could simply withdraw the case from the courts in the interest of the peace between all Malaysians. This would present the church not just with immediate security, but also a moral victory... whilst Malay leaders could go around placating the more dangerous elements and allowing the police to do their job catching the perpetrators without being encumbered by the risk of further attacks.
The above are options to immediately stop the escalation of violence, but it will not address other concerns that have brought Malays too close to the Tipping Point towards it. These concerns need to be addressed by the government to bring us well away from the brink. Waving a finger and crying out "1Malaysia" is not enough. Remedial action is needed to undo 5+ years of continuous damage to the Malays' sense of pride.
I also hope that the absence or reduction of violence from Monday does not give everyone a false sense of security. The violence is probably reduced as people are at work...