The Vigil

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It was a nice peaceful evening … which set the scene for a peaceful lighting of candles for a vigil …

The context is this … High Court declines to intervene“The Appellate and Special Powers High Court has ruled that it will not disturb the declaration that Everest climber L/Kpl M. Moorthy was a Muslim because the matter was under the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

“The Civil Court does not have the power to make a judicial review on the Syariah Court order, nor to ignore or nullify it.

“This court can only allow the widow’s application to declare herself the wife of Moorthy,” Justice Md Raus Sharif said, when rejecting all the other declarations sought by Moorthy’s 30-year-old widow S. Kaliammal. “

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A more corporate response from Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism stated here Group: Amend Constitution to cure grave legal defect is … “We call on the Government to urgently cure this grave defect in our legal system by making the necessary amendments to the Federal Constitution and all other legislation so that jurisdiction to determine the validity of conversions into and out of Islam are vested in the High Court where all Malaysians can be parties and have equal rights as witnesses”

A more personal response from Why did I join the vigil? is … “It was my privilege to be there, and hopefully my two youngest will understand why daddy had to suddenly run off to attend an urgent call to a “peaceful protest”.

Now, why did I do it? The SB officer also asked me the same question of a 30-year ex-government servant who drove all the way from PJ to get there for the 15-minute vigil. I said, “for the sake of my children and grandchildren!””

Why did I go? … partly because I got emails informing me about it, partly because I sense I’m growing in my love for Malaysia … partly because I didn’t want to start the year with mere “thoughts” or “talk … partly because “orthopraxis” is important … partly due to curiosity … partly to see a friend (and inspired by his sons!) … partly I’m asking “What is the Gospel?” lately and how does it relate to ALL of life .. including matters as important as this … partly because I felt a “nudge” (from the Spirit?) …

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Today’s latest in the news Moorthy’s widow to get all benefits

… but from the more macro perspective of Court ‘should have probed law’, ” Human Rights Commission chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman said the civil court should not have avoided the issue by merely ruling that L/Kpl Moorthy’s conversion to Islam came under the jurisdiction of the Syariah court.

“I think this is a constitutional issue. The individual has the right to choose his or her own religion. Once the person has embraced Islam, he has to act in accordance to the tenets of the religion. Otherwise, there is no meaning or commitment to his conversion.

“Islam is a religion practised according to hukum syarak and the competent person to decide on Islamic matters is the Syariah court.

“But in this case, the civil court should have considered the constitutionality of the amendment to the Federal Constitution, which was presented by the Government and passed by Parliament, and decide whether it is constitutional or not. Because in the matter of constitutionality, the civil court is competent,” he said here yesterday. “

So, with calmness and peacefulness … with the help of a candle, and the encouragement of old and new friends … many whom probably wouldn’t have crossed path in normal circumstances … we stand together for an hour or so … there were some introductions, little conversations here and there, helping each other re-light candles when it’s extinguished by the breeze, giggles when people honk, interest when our pictures were taken … Many have done so for the last few days .. one guy holding the banner said maybe the next 30 days …

I read these words by my friend in an e-commentary, “Let me make it very clear that I am a novice in such matters. Many others have understood the social implications of discipleship long before me and some have paid heavily
for their convictions.

Last night was my first baby step, and I am a very small baby. I am so much more at home in the world of ideas and words. But there are times when ideas must find feet.”

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Somehow for this post, I find myself struggling with words to express myself. He says it so much better than I could have. On Tuesday night, I told myself … make the necessary arrangements, get on the LRT train, walk over the bridge to the venue, wait for the appointed time, take a candle (change another one when it’s finished), “freeze” time to pause and ponder, talk with people, understand, reflect, consider, pray, take pictures, smile when people take pictures of you (from mobile phones across the street).. stand, hold the banner, listen … be open for changes to happen in history (as well as one’s own story in progress).

I found myself entering 2006 with very little “fireworks” … I found the flickering “candle light” so much more meaningful. Somehow the words I read during Christmas day keeps ringing in my ear … “The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

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