Its unfortunate that the two incidents to enforce religious and racist tolerance in Singapore and Malaysia are related to Muslims and the malay community. Okay, I am not surprise about this coming from Malaysia because the whole world evolves around giving in to the malay/muslim demands in Malaysia, very seldom the other way around.
The first, and first time in Singapore too, is how a few thousand years of Chinese tradition has been changed by McDonald because of “religious tolerance”. Our dear year of the PIG is now officially, the year of the CUPID. Honestly I really don’t know what the MUIS Halal certification for restaurant entails, but a quick browse seems to indicate that it only deals with food production and handling, nothing about toys. Here is probably a case of self-censorship out of fear by McDonald and it does not help that MUIS or the Malay muslim community is silent about this. Perhaps they are happy about the decision?
When will the Muslim community and MUIS come up to clarify this? Singapore is waiting.
Basically how the government in Singapore promote and instill religious and racial tolerance is really through religious and racial fear. The problem is, of course, the problem is never resolved, because true understanding is never achieved. What this episode, if indeed McDonald is being fearful, is that there is an under current of fear of the Malay muslim community and also a misperception that they are intolerant and that giving way is only a one way traffic.
I remember from young, as part of my religious/racial tolerance, I was brought up to constantly be fearful of offending the Malay muslim community. It was never about offending vegetarians, christians, hindus (okay partially), indians or taoist. To the little mind as I was growing up, I get the impression that the Malay muslims must be a very petty and intolerant people and religion because we are all so fearful of offending them all the time. This does not help when the Western media’s view of Muslims in other continents, usually with violence. But as I grew up, I realized that such fears are really unfounded.
If we read articles involving around issues of racial or religious intolerance in these two countries, inevitable the majority of such cases are related to Malay muslim community. The ability to use the law to punish the offenders (i.e. non malay muslim) does not show tolerance. In fact it re-enforce intolerance and fear in the society.
Mind you, I have a number of good malay muslim friends, some are more religious than others, some are more relaxed than others and we never have such issues as I grew to understand the limits of their religion prohibition. Sure, I am critical about their religious text around it, just as I am critical of some buddhist text or christian text, but that does not make me non-tolerant, just argumentative.
The second which is evern more violent is how the malay muslim community and government in Malaysia insists that allah is a patented muslim god word. Interesting, the Indonesian bible society have to explain itself for use of Allah which some christian insists in incorrect!
Worst of all, religious intolerance raises it ugly head by the burning of some churches in the Klang Valley. This does not help to re-enforce the idea the Islam is peaceful, because whenever there is a disagreement its almost always the Muslims turning to violence first in Malaysia. To cut to the chase, the muslim government and the impressionable malay muslim community are just intolerant of anything that does not go their way. PERIOD.
The Malaysian government themselves are at fault of creating an opportunity for the violent elements of the malay muslim community to raise to the challenge, with its insistence to not allow Allah to be used by other religions of the book. They claim that this is not different from Muslim stepping on the cow head previous. This is bullocks! Stepping on a cows head is a direct insult to the Hindu religion and god. The government and muslim community in Malaysia have yet to proof that the use of Allah in the bible is insulting to Islam.
If we really look at it, this has nothing to do with being muslim, because this word has been used in bibles in the middle east without much a challenge and the use of Allah even predate Islam. This is just specific to the brand of chauvinistic religion practiced by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian government insists that this is about being tolerant, yeah right to the violent muslims in Malaysia you mean? But really its just an intolerant religious mind trying to enforce itself to the rest of the society. Religious and racial tolerance don’t exist in Malaysia, it all about putting up with the demands of the malay muslims in Malaysia.
At a quick glance, one would think that the way Malaysia and Singapore “practice” of religious and racial tolerance are different. But in fact, they are not different, because both government use fear to cull any discussions that would help society be more tolerant, through constructive and healthy debate and to allow some some criticism without getting people too worked up. Both governments actually prefer the races and religions to remain intolerant of each other (via their current policies of fear mongering), because this is the only way to maintain power and control over the people and so that people cannot question bad racial quota and policies in the government or the racist bumi putra policy of the Malaysian government.