The Vigil – My Third

*Update: My previous blog title might have given the impression the Vigil is over – that was not my intention to communicate that. I apologize if that is the impression I had given ..

according the offical website — > ” The vigil, will be held nightly from 8.00 pm – 9.00pm until 31 January 2006, is to express the non-Muslim community’s concern over having no legal recourse to challenge Syariah Court decisions.”*

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From what I heard the vigil were joined by at least more than 500 people on Wednesday night January 11, 2006. There was one point when there weren’t even enough candles. And for some of us who needed a “refill” we had to wait.

It’s interested to note that some came prepared with umbrellas (perhaps because some actually braved the rain a number of nights). There was at least two ladies equipped with candle holders made of paper. There were some who came with their own.

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This night was not only the biggest group thus far but the most diverse in composition. I was amused when someone told me that this vigil was organized by another group … I think credit needs to be given where it’s due that this vigil from day one has been and is called by the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism & Sikhism

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I’ve heard various comments about the Vigil …
– an immediate strange one was that those who are part of this are hypocrites and are merely for their own political ends. I wonder whether those who easily blurt out these words truly understand the issues at hand, and even more do they seek to understand the people who actually got off the butt, took some effort to ACTUALLY be at the vigil (some daily whether rain or moonshine!)
– some think it’s a waste of time and efforts should be on the intellectual end rather than merely physical protest – according to Article 121(1A) A Jurisdictional Nightmare there has been efforts in this aspect. From Article 121(1A) and Islamic Family Law – have two parliamentary select committees there seems to be some welcomed progress. I think the vigil is achieving it’s goal of to attract the attention of the authorities and hoping that the situation could be remedied.
– some don’t know what all this is about … for beginners … you can start here:
–> more personal stuff here The Vigil and The Vigil – my sequel (please have a helpful read here At the Barricades
–> Lots of links here in The ‘devil’ in Federal Constitution Article 121 (1A)
and Moorthy and Malaysia’s pitiful story

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More detailed comments for those who REALLY want to delve deeper into the issues please check the following:
–> A Tale of Two Justice
–> Should we amend the Constitution?

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To me there is a need to approach our concerns with head (the intellectual engagement), heart (our genuine concerns) and hands (practical possibilities) and this would involved addressing the issues from all possible angles and apporaches. The vigil serves the purpose for creating awareness and conversation (and indirectly deepening relationships, creating new links, forging old links etc.) Furthermore, anyone can hold a candle for one hour!

There will be those engaged at different levels of dialogue, and discussion – some who are in positions to even effect change at the highest level.

In short, we’re all in this together … and together we can go far for the benefit of ALL!

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A couple of guys got a little creative of how they could hold the candles but I’d like to “redeem” this creativity to highlight firstly, this whole vigil was PEACEFUL , INTELLIGENT and GENUINE. There was nothing fancy, no shouting! no lectures! no fanfare … it was calm and composed yet with conviction that what is Right needs to be done. Would any one hear and see the concerns raised? and would their be appropriate action carried out?

Looks positive … for now based on Pak Lah: There must be no confusion in religious matters where our prime minister “Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has made it clear that matters concerning religious conversion needed to be spelt out plainly in the Federal Constitution and other laws to prevent confusion among Malaysians. “ and Groups laud Pak Lah’s stand on conversion where ” CCM secretary-general Dr Herman Shastri said serious consideration should be given to Article 121 (1) A of the Constitution, which had blurred the lines of jurisdiction between the Civil and Syariah courts in its present interpretation.

“Civil courts should be seen to protect and uphold justice of citizens with regard to fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. In no way should a judge abdicate responsibility in hearing the case of one who seeks to exercise the right to be heard in court,” said Dr Shastri.”

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Another guy got creative with three candles … perhaps without knowing it it became an encouragement to me (because I decided to at least come three times) – as one whom probably not too long ago would just be “commenting” from the sidelines or coffeshops or cafes or wherever… I too have been asking Why did I join the vigil (leh)

The vigil may mean many things to many people – for me (apart from the more “macro” reasons) I find myself seeing this vigil as a possible “space” to create a better awareness on the issues at hand (where one can do the research and reflection from the internet), to relate my faith to concrete realities beyond the walls of the church (which is important to me), to allow my spirituality to have legs (links to my ongoing quest for right motivations with right thinking with right practice), to encounter people whom I’d probably wouldn’t have and how that face to face meeting catalyzes needed change in perception (and in a number of cases increasing respect – it’s more than about principles or even ideas – it’s ultimately about people!) .. so while it’s about seeing “change” for the better for the society and the country … one also “changes” in the process .. hopefully for the better too!

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