Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Racism and Hypocrisy at Mount Singai

"They are not all saints who use holy water."

English Proverb

To begin my story again, on the 5th of April, a Saturday of no great distinction, I decided to hike up to the summit of Mount Singai which is historically the ancestral grounds of the BiSingai Bidayuh people. I arrived early and parked my car right at the feet of a tall, stainless steel, art deco Jesus. Then, carrying my backpack and camera tripod with me, I accidentally started my trek in the wrong direction.

Mount Singai Art Deco Jesus
A Jesus sculpture made out of pipes and metal sheets.

That had me walking past a random shophouse in the local village and the Bidayuh shopkeeper minding the establishment gave me a once-over before asking in Malay,

"Climbing Singai?"

It sounded nothing like a question, of course. In fact, I had the distinct impression that he was pronouncing some judgement upon my person. Regardless, I smiled at him and answered in the affirmative.

Glancing at my oblong bag containing my tripod, he asked another severe non-question,

"Going to take a lot of pictures?"

He was nodding sarcastically with wide mocking eyes as he was saying this, so my hackles began rising in response. I know hostility when I see it and having just exited my car not one minute ago, I was sure I could not have given him cause for it yet. So, I responded with silence.

"Why don't you go climb a mountain with a Tua Pek Kong on it instead?" he remarked sarcastically. No smile. No laughter. There was naked hatred in his voice.

I just walked away at this point. Tua Pek Kong literally means "Grand Uncle" in the Hokkien dialect and is one of the local deities worshipped by the Malaysian Chinese community. That racist nut-bag had assumed that I worship Tua Pek Kong just because I happened to be ethnically Chinese and apparently, he also thought that Tua Pek Kong worshippers should not climb a mountain that has a Catholic church on it. Doesn't he know that Chinese people can be Catholics too instead of assuming that I wasn't? Did it somehow escape his notice that the Bishop of the Kuching Archdiocese who officially blessed the place when it was completed in 1995 was a Chinese guy called Peter Chung? And that his local mitre-wearing head honcho, the Kuching Archbishop, is yet another Chinaman named John Ha?

For a minute, I considered returning back to Kuching or go visit another local attraction since my morning had been soured by that odious pot-bellied man, but that would mean letting racism win the day - and I would never let prejudice and bigotry win my day. So, I parked my car at a different location (in case that prejudiced prick thought to do something nasty to it) and continued with my plan of climbing the mountain.

Now, the road to the peak of Singai is divvied into two unequal portions: the easy 30-minute ascent to the Catholic Memorial Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC) using the wooden boardwalks and stairs, and the 2-hour climb on the jungle trail from CMPC to the top. At the very beginning of the jungle trek, a large yellow sign had been erected there bearing this message:

Mount Singai CMPC Notice
Look, they even had it translated to Chinese.


It is our desire to allow all to enjoy the beauty of God's creation so that, despite numerous complaints of visitors removing fruits and plants, we have not stopped you from climbing this mountain.

But some visitors have recently gone so far to abuse our generosity by erecting 'Tua Pekong' on the summit, thereby showing grave disrespect to the Singai Bidayuh for whom Mount Singai is not only their ancestral home but a place where local Catholics trace their Christian root.

Mount Singai must be maintained as a sacred and holy mountain.

All attempts to introduce idols and deities are strictly prohibited.

TAKE NOTICE that passage to the summit will be closed upon any further abuse.

Vincent Eddy ak Sireng
CMPC Mt Singai, Bau.

21st August 2004

Oh ho ho, now that racist shopkeeper's rude remarks made sense to me (racism doesn't really make sense to me, but you know what I'm getting at). How dare these Tua Pek Kong worshipping chinks bring their blasphemous idols to the summit of Singai! The Catholics abhor idolatry! I mean, just look at Exodus 20:4-5 of the Catholic Edition of the New Revised Standard Bible! It is part of commandment number one!

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them."

And Catholics would never ever make themselves idols...

Mount Singai CMPC Jesus Idol
Jesus on a stick in the Christ the King Church at CMPC.

... in the form of anything that is in heaven above...

Mount Singai CMPC Mary's Idol
The allegedly virginal Mary at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at CMPC.

... or that is on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Mount Singai CMPC Idol Army
A roomful of merchandised porcelain Jesuses, Marys, and various saints at CMPC which they sell to devotees.

And good Catholics will absolutely never bow down or worship these graven idols, no sirree!

Mount Singai CMPC Boy Jumping
Catholics in the act of not bowing down and worshipping Mary's statue at the CMPC's Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

And remember folks, "all attempts to introduce idols and deities are strictly prohibited". Unless your deity or idol is Catholic - in which case, introduce away!

Historically, the Bidayuh of Singai practiced a form of ancestral worship called Adat Gawai and in 1885, a young Dutch Roman Catholic priest called Father Felix Westerwoudt came to Sarawak and settled amongst the local tribespeople. For 13 years, he lived with the BiSingai, learned their language and culture and even travelled from village to village to persuade the Bidayuh people to convert to Christianity - but he was largely unsuccessful as they held on to their pagan religion. At the time of Westerwoudt's death at the age of 37 after taking ill, only seven Singai families have embraced Jesus.

Of course, with further persistent attempts at supplanting the local beliefs, Westerwoudt's successors eventually realised their missionary efforts. Now that Christianity have put out roots in the local community, the mountain that previously held pagan significance to the forefathers of the BiSingai were converted into a Catholic pilgrimage site - which brings to my mind a rather interesting question.

Would the long-dead original settlers of Mount Singai who practiced animism be offended by the idols and deities introduced by the Catholics here?

RELATED POST: An Atheist on a Christian Mountain

Actually keeps the "no idols" commandment,
k0k s3n w4i


Steve Finnell said...


Is it possible to be saved without having your sins forgiven? Was Saul saved by faith alone before his sins were forgiven?

If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, then he was saved without having his sins forgiven.

Saul believed in Jesus on the road Damascus, but his sins were forgiven three days later in Damascus
Act 9:1-19......9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank....

Saul sins were forgiven in Damascus, three days later, not on the road to Damascus.
Acts 22:1-16.....10 And I said, 'What shall I do Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'.......16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins,calling on His name!

Saul was not saved by faith only. Saul was saved by believing and being baptized in water.

Jesus did not establish faith only salvation on the road to Damascus. Jesus confirmed what He already had said "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved"... (Mark 16:16)

You cannot be saved unless your sins have been forgiven.

In order to support the doctrine of faith only men have offered many reasons why the Scriptures cannot be trusted.
1. The Bible is not the inerrant word of God, it has many errors and contradictions.
2. You have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible. If you understand the original Greek language, then you would know water baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins.
3. You need to use extra-Biblical writings to understand the plan of salvation.
4. The Bible has been mistranslated, therefore men are saved by faith only and not the way it is presented in the Bible.

If God is not smart enough to give men an accurate translation of His plan for salvation and Christian living, then why would anyone trust in Him for salvation or for anything else.

God has given us His plan of salvation in many translations, in different languages. You do not have to know Greek.You do not have to have a Greek dictionary. You do have to be Greek. If men had to be able to read and understand original Greek to understand the Bible, then all Bibles would be in Greek.


Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

"allegedly virginal" Mary? You have now attacked both Christianity & Islam who revered Mary/Miriam as the virginal Mother of the Son of God/one of the Prophets. This is the one of the cornerstones of their faiths.
Something in this post suggests to me, well I could be wrong , that you were a serial victim of child molest/abuse/rape by a man of the cloth ... or maybe a school teacher? Your screams have never stopped echoing in the hollows of your mental recesses?
But I'm willing to be wrong on this, with my apologies in advance.

Darshan said...

Dr kok, referring to the local chap who pissed you off, was he one of the Catholics who go to the centre, so he assumed you were going to his summit to look for tua pek kong? I am unclear on this.
And what is Steve finnell saying? You understand his speech or not? If you do, please enlighten your readers. Thanks.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Anonymous: "allegedly virginal" Mary? You have now attacked both Christianity & Islam who revered Mary/Miriam as the virginal Mother of the Son of God/one of the Prophets. This is the one of the cornerstones of their faiths.

You call that an "attack"? People did in fact alleged that this Jewish girl conceived Jesus/Isa without intercourse, contrary to everything we know about human reproduction. I wasn't aware that Christians and Muslims have proven that it actually happened. I am not the one who made claims that fly in the face of all logic and biology.

Something in this post suggests to me, well I could be wrong , that you were a serial victim of child molest/abuse/rape by a man of the cloth ... or maybe a school teacher? Your screams have never stopped echoing in the hollows of your mental recesses?
But I'm willing to be wrong on this, with my apologies in advance.

I was never Christian or Muslim growing up and thus never had the privilege of being placed in the power of men of the cloth or priests. No teachers have ever molested me. I was a well-adjusted young man who have always gotten good grades, dated almost constantly through high school and was a committee member of my school's Buddhist Society and best friend of the president of my school's Christian fellowship. I am an atheist through my personal journey in learning about all the different religions of the world in search of the truth back when I was in med school. Please stop putting stock in that Hollywood atheist stereotype - one does not need personal psychological trauma to oppose religion any more than one has to be personally wronged by the Nazis to hate the Holocaust.

Darshan: The man was probably implying that Chinese people should not climb his precious mountain due to the actions of some Tua Pek Kong worshipping morons in the past. Steve Finnell's comment is irrelevant spam. I was going to delete it anyway.

Anonymous said...

So much hypocrisy in religion it's baffling to me why people still subscribe to it.

Anonymous said...

Pity you, your wife and your son. May you find the path back to the Lord one day and all your sins shall be forgiven.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Anonymous #2: IKNOWRITE.

Anonymous #3: Pity you and your whole family. May you find the path back to Allah one day and all your sins shall be forgiven.

I think this is almost a uniquely Abrahamic faith thing, especially Christians. It is an indirect way of saying I-am-better-than-you to people who believe differently from you but dressed up to make yourself look like you actually mean well when in fact, it was actually a message of spite. I pity you because you only dare to speak this way when you hide behind anonymity, and lack the courage that I have in speaking for my convictions. I pity you because you think that you can leave such transparently petty words in my blog and still walk away pretending you are taking the high road. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Seriously bro just because one or two pakistan hurt ur feelings u have to remark all bidayuh pr singai racist. Or mock religions just to gain sympathy. For years u dine or drink at kopitiam or even play monkey thunderbolt facing lakia workers don hypocritically tell me u treat them good? Ur a disgrace and the instigator of racist in swk I suggest u learn and study back how to treat others before continuing to condemn other lakia. Long live satanism. Not all religion is right probably satan worshipping ia better

k0k s3n w4i said...

Anonymous: Seriously bro just because one or two pakistan hurt ur feelings u have to remark all bidayuh pr singai racist.

Seriously bro, did you even read my post. Since when have I said that ALL BiSingai are racist? I was just talking about the one, and then remarking that I realised that the reason that ONE guy was racist to me was because of religious reasons. And I am not mocking religion to gain sympathy. I mock religion because more people need to point out that the emperor got no clothes on.