Misleading advertisement of FINAS
The TV advertisement of 1Malaysia promotion by FINAS in RTM/TV3/ASTRO during Deepavali celebration this year is inundated with encouraging religious conversion of Hindus to Islam. It shows how a Hindu youth married to Muslim girl can still celebrate Deepavali with his parents. The boy’s family initially hostile to his Muslim conversion but accept him after the birth of his children. Anyone marries to Muslim in Malaysia must convert to Islam and this fact is hidden in this advertisement. This deliberately hiding of facts is mischievous and misleading the Hindu viewers. It’s leading the viewers into the belief that religious conversion may be hostile in the beginning but will be accepted upon the birth of children into the family. FINAS is silently misleading Hindu youths into religious conversion as part of 1Malaysia campaign.
The girl who is married to this convert refuses to eat food cooked by Hindu family until she is assured that the food is cooked by another Muslim. This episode only depicts that the Hindus are inferior to Muslims that they can’t eat food cooked by Hindus, not halal I suppose. If that is the case what is the motive to show such an insulting and belittling advertisement during Deepavali which is a Hindu festival. This only shows the apparent intolerance of the authorities in reluctantly accepting the religious and cultural indifferences.
The apparent pleasantries on the surface of the advertisement ignore the fact that converts over time will be subjected to directives from JAIS, MAIS and other religious bodies. Converts will be discouraged and pulled away from celebrating Deepavali but these underlying consequences are conveniently covered up. A Hindu convert is welcomed by FINAS but if a Muslim converts to other religion than it is apostasy. Why the double standard? The advertisement reveals the hidden agenda of BN government in dealing with culture and religious feelings and sensitivities of Indians and others. 1Malaysia seems to be not accepting the diversities of difference ethnics in Malaysia but subtly converting others into Muslim religion. Such hidden parochial agenda doesn’t augur well for the well being and future of minorities and their children. This episode also proves that the minorities in Malaysia are under fear that their legitimate rights to practice their religious festival might be under threat. The guarantees of religious freedom are under threat by the proponents of religious hardliners. This advertisement trail goes against the spirit of article 295-298A.
Articles 295-298A of the Malaysian Penal Code provides penalties for those who commit offenses against religion. The penalties range from up to three years in prison or a fine of up to US$1,000 (approximately). Prosecutions for blasphemy usually target those who offend Islam, but an insult to any religion can give rise to prosecution. Clearly FINAS and the film producer have violated the article 295-298A. Action must be taken against FINAS and the advertisement producer.