"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's 'St. Matthew's Passion' on a ukulele." - Bagdikian's Observation

***

I was quite surprised that the Straits Times ran a seditious article today, on whether the Buddha tooth is genuine.

By casting doubt on its veracity, they're mocking the faith of the 60,000 donors who poured $45 million and 270kg of gold into the four-storey building housing the tooth relic.

So what if dentists believe the tooth is a herbivore's? Broadcasting this fact can do nought but "promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore", given that Buddhists make up 42.5% of the resident population above age 15 (2000 census), making it the most popular religion in Singapore. Besides, why should the Buddha's teeth have to look like those of mere mortals? He achieved nirvana - of course his teeth are going to look different!

The definitive statement on the matter of authenticity comes from the Venerable Shi Fazhao, who justifiably pooh-poohs the dental experts' opinion: 'They can say all they want, I don't care what they say. If you believe it's real, then it's real.' Examination by an expert is not necessary, for as the Venerable Shi Fazhao huffed, 'It's mine, why should I let you examine it? Why don't you go examine what's in Sri Lanka and China first?' Buddhist credentials alone are enough to authenticate the tooth's provenance.

Some other Buddhists also question the veracity of the tooth relic, but who are they to judge? They definitely have beliefs that likewise do not stand up to modern scrutiny. If the tooth relic's authenticity is allowed to be questioned, very soon everyone will be challenging everyone else on basic matters of belief, and then what would happen?!

As the Venerable B. Dhammaratana explains, since everyone believes in different legends, 'You can't say which is right or which is wrong.' If someone wants to believe that the earth was created by Pangu cracking open an egg, no one can say that he was wrong.

This questioning of religious beliefs is a dangerous precedent that could lead us down a slippery slope. Why, very soon we will have racial riots and our society will descend into anarchy!

I look forward to many people being arrested soon, and others losing their jobs, for threatening the fragile balance we have achieved on our fair island.

***

The seditious Kalama Sutta:

""Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them."
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