RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN MALAYSIA

Isn’t it time you abandoned your dogmatic tolerance of all religions? When will you stop with the nonsense of “different strokes for different folks” or less colorfully and with boring sobriety tell your friends “We don’t have a monopoly on truth or right and wrong, you know.”? Etc. It took me the greater part of my life to get free of this insanity.

You don’t have to have a monopoly on truth to recognize stupidity, viciousness and insanity when they stare you in the face and knock you to the ground. Malaysia is not a land of moderates, preaching one faith among others that you can take or leave exactly as you please. It is illegal to renounce the Muslim faith and you can be killed for it. You cannot testify in a court if you are not Muslim because your word is worthless. You cannot tell jokes or draw cartoons insulting the Prophet because your home will be burned down with you inside as a sweet collateral benefit.

If corruption is your thing, Malaysia may be a place to relocate to. Transparency International has this to say: “Corruption is marked in the police force; political corruption, particularly bribery and cronyism, is common in the ruling BN coalition. This may be changing under Abdullah’s leadership, however. In November 2004, for example, the UMNO suspended several of its members on charges of vote buying in party elections.” Oh, mighty Allah, you have taught us well and we shall do your bidding.

THE HUMBLE, HARD LIFE OF A CHINESE SUPERSTAR

In China, superstar athletes cannot and do not expect the same treatment Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan get in the U.S. In China, they get much better. Adoring fans cannot do enough for them. However, Chen Qi, international table tennis great, fell afoul of Party bigwigs and they punished him. Here’s the sad story of Chen.

One day, a couple of months ago, Chen found himself on the wrong end of the score in an important match. Chen is a well known rowdy who likes to get drunk in all-night bars but this time his temper got the better of him. Giving it his best Bobby Knight imitation, he heaved and kicked a chair across the floor while TV cameras were turned on him and millions watched. It was too much for the fuddy duddies who played their own table tennis back in the days of Mao Tse Tung. Remembering how Mao dealt with those who didn’t obey the dictates of the Cultural Revolution, they decided to give Chen a taste of ordinary life in the countryside. Mao used to ship people off for discipline training for up to two years. The current group of table tennis powers decided one week would do the job.

So off Chen went to do penitence. He packed his MP 3 player and his cell phone into his Porsche and went to a remote village to do hard field work. Of course, he also brought along his own quilt to ward off the chill of a harsh remote world. The adoring villagers were ready for him. They prepared the best home in the village for him – a 2-story, 14-room mansion with Greek plaster touches. They installed the only television set so Chen could feel at home. He worked in the fields – whenever he was in the mood for exercise. To ensure his comfort, his hosts provided him with air conditioning. Keep in mind that all this is quite fitting because Chen makes $100,000 in a country where few are lucky to make $2000. Take that, Bill Gates!

It worked. Chen returned a humbler man. Pushing aside autograph seekers upon his return, Chen said, “I’d never lived like that before.”

Story gleaned from the Wall Street Journal, August 17. Sorry, print edition only.