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Sunday, June 26, 2011

A New Dawn Quietly Rising in Asia...


These were the very words of “Martin” Michael Luther King, Jr.; a prominent American Baptist activist, winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, assasinated back in April, 1968.  How very true this words still rings today.  It saddens me this morning to read in many headlines, of much political turmoil and unrests in many parts of the world, especially in Asia.  How can pilgrims like us continue on our journey and not pause to ponder on these?

Whilst the rise of people power has toppled many corrupt governments in certain parts of the world, in South East Asia, human rights abuse has not yet become history.  There is no clear sign that human rights are no longer an issue in this part of the world, which is most disheartening.

In Malaysia, alternative media streams reports that political freedom is not yet a reality…corrupt governance, controlled mainstream media, abuse of the justice system, restrictions to freedom of worship, even state elections are not yet free, fair and clean…each new day, human rights are constantly being threatened, violated, peaceful rallies being hindered, calls for democracy falling into deaf ears – the people held to ransom.

The so-called “supremacy” of Islam as the chief state religion in Malaysia has been reported as having resulted in the diminishing of fundamental religious freedom in the country, more evidently, against Christians.  Advocates of freedom, justice and transparency are threatened with arrest using the primitive “Internal Security Act”; restricting the people’s fundamental freedom of expression.

Thomas Merton has this to say about Malaysia, back in December 1968… ”dark-blue land, islands fringed with fine sand, aquamarine sea…lots of cloud.”  However, looking at the circumstances today, it is an absolute mockery for the-corrupt-powers-that-be to shamelessly proclaim to the world at large that…Malaysia is still “Truly Asia”.  How can this be when the voice of the people is being suppressed, insulted, welfare and rights being blatantly robbed?

Similar corrupt dark ages are recorded in Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia; to a lesser severity, competitive Singapore – a city Thomas Merton once referred to as “…an interesting, “worldly” town…”worldly”…in a Chinese sense…along with big Western buildings…clean and well-kept.”  If only neighbors Malaysia can open up their blindness and be enlightened by the learning of a thing or two from the tiny developed island of Singapore.

Asia…stands for a continent filled with multicultural heritage, strong family bonds, rich cultures, home of many of the world religions, ancient philosophies, literature, smiling faces, good mannerisms, delightful cuisines, freedom fighters…all blended and infused into one.  The clash of traditions and the Western world has made Asia’s journey into the future, dark, unknown and challenging for the basic human being.  Jesus would surely weep on seeing this and hearing the many cries of His people…

Despite developments and progress, the people of South Eastern part of Asia, especially ethnic minorities are still constantly being marginalized, victimized and justice compromised in their quest for freedom, democracy and independence – many of these traits, the Western world simply take for granted.

Could this be that the selfish leaders in Asia are bent on promoting the subtle infiltration of their “twisted” Western educated mindset against the more traditional, spiritual and well-mannered Asian environment; all for the sake of satisfying their own appetite and lust for power abuse, corruption and robnery?

Basic human right violations such as these, when not timely addressed, often form the root and core of challenges in the problem of national disintegration – ultimately, threatening the very core of a country’s integrity and unity of its people.

Asia has and will continue to present to the world many advocates of freedom and justice inclusive of the more well-known Mohandas Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Teresa, not forgetting the various People power and justice movements in many countries.

It is a bit of a paradox that Thomas Merton, in his final days in South East Asia, shared that his pilgrimage was an effort to deepen his own religious and monastic commitment.  “I come as a pilgrim who is anxious to obtain not just information, not just facts about other monastic traditions, but to drink from ancient sources of monastic vision and experience.  I seek not only to learn more (quantitatively) about religion and monastic life, but to become a better and more enlightened monk (qualitatively) myself.”

Today, we continue to pray for peace, freedom and prosperity in Asia, especially along the South East corridor, that the Almighty Lord will direct their steps.  May the Holy angels and archangels accompany them on their way so that their future will be one filled with peace, safety, freedom, fairness, equality, equanimity and much joy in the toppling of corruption and power abuse.

May God hear the cries from the People with regards to their supplications and sufferings and make their parts straight.  May the good Lord protect the innocent and walk closely with them onward to the way of democracy, justice, peace, truth and salvation – a new dawn for their countries.  May the good Lord be present to them in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, one Allah forever and ever.  Amen.

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