I have written elsewhere that I believe that Indonesia is now forging ahead of Malaysia on many fronts after the voters there were courageous enough to vote in a change of government by kicking out the ruling Golkar that had dominated Indonesia for decades.
Of course Malaysia is still economically more advanced but we all worry that this will reverse once the oil dries up as even Tengku Razaleigh considers the oil bonanza a "curse".
There is one area where Indonesia has had a more enlightened policy and that is with respect to religion. Even though Muslims dominate the population with more than 95% belonging to the faith, Indonesia has an open policy towards most religions. I remember my second trip to Bali about 10 years ago and I wanted to go for Sunday service. We took a taxi to the church and the driver told us that the church, the mosque and the temple were all within walking distance of each other. You see, the government actually provides proper sites for the main religions to construct their place of worship; unlike the former Selangor government that actually ordered the demolition of a RC church that had already been granted approval.
The remarkable thing about Indonesia is that the state does not support any official religion and hence the police are not involved in enforcing Islamic laws.
If you meet most Indonesians you will find that there is a wide tolerance of religious practices and I observed this earlier this year when I was on a furniture shopping expedition in Java.
It was during the fasting month and during the time of the presidential elections. I asked my supplier if the police arrested anyone for eating during the fasting month. He replied that the police didn't bother about such cases. Even the shops were allowed to sell Muslims food and provided a screened off area so as not to disturb those who were fasting.
The TV satellite programs even had Gospel quotes and evangelical speakers with no one staging mass protests.
The photo above shows a church in Java with the prominent words "ALLAH ITU KASIH" or "GOD IS LOVE".
Hence the court ruling and the response by malaysiakini reading 'Allah use only in Herald's BM section' really shows how far backwards we have regressed as a nation. Of course we share part of the blame for we have put into power those who are prepared to use religion for their own evil intent.
Let us all be wary of those we elect to power and ever vigilant once they become national leaders.