Thursday, December 28, 2017

Stealing from gods; stealing of gods?

Star Online - Buddha statue thief sorry and begs for forgiveness (extracts)

GEORGE TOWN: The man who stole the Reclining Buddha statue said he was repentant and would hold a special prayer at the temple to ask for forgiveness.

When the charge was read out to him, Lim Keng Liang pleaded guilty at once. Lawyer R. Puran told the court that his client wants to hold the special prayer soon.

He said his client, an antique dealer, was remorseful.

“He helps out with his father’s business and also needs to take care of his father. He has no prior conviction,” Puran told a magistrate’s court here yesterday.

Magistrate Qasiratul Jannah Usmani Othman fined Keng Liang and his abettor Lim Su-Quinn, 29, RM7,500 each in default 12 months’ jail from their date of arrest on Dec 22.

Su-Quinn, a company executive, also pleaded guilty to the offence, which happened on Dec 11 at 8.30am.

The charge under Section 379 of the Penal Code for theft carries a jail term of up to seven years, a fine or both, upon conviction.

Lawyer Jeffrey Ooi, who represented Su-Quinn, said it was her first offence and she cooperated with the police when she was remanded for four days.

First, let me get something out of the way - is Lawyer Jeffrey Ooi, who represented Su-Quinn, the same as Jeff Ooi the DAP MP for Jelutong Penang? Wakakaka.

OK, with that question asked, let's now discuss the post topic, the case of the theft of a Buddha icon at the Penang Buddhist Association.

It's good to read that reporter in the Star Online, Chong Kah Yuan, call the stolen icon correctly as a 'reclining Buddha' and not as a 'sleeping Buddha'.

The correct description of a 'reclining Buddha' is a depiction of Gautama Buddha resting at his last moment before he attained parinirvana in around 483 BCE.

As I am not here to lecture you on the difference between nirvana and parinirvana, I shall refrain from doing so, wakakaka.

I have to say I was shocked by that robbery as the item is a religious icon in a sacred place. It's not unlike some tomb robbers pilfering ancient religious items like the burial treasures of Pharaoh Tutankhamen or more recently a man wilfully setting fire to a religious book at Surau Al-Hidayah in Jalan Pertanian, Taman Universiti, Skudai after he failed to steal money from a collection box.

These have been religious sacrileges or blasphemies.

The British have been particularly notorious at stealing such relics from places of worship in the Middle-East including Egyptian mummies, the Elgin Marbles at the temple of the Parthenon and of course the burial treasures of the boy Pharaoh mentioned just above. There were more.

Talking about stealing stuff from a holy place of worship, there is a temple in Penang along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (previously Pitt Street).

The locals call it Kuan Im Teng (Kuanyin Temple). It is the oldest Chinese Buddhist (Mahayana) temple in the state and is highly revered by Buddhists for its principal deity Goddess of Mercy (who is actually a Bodhisattva rather than a deity).

Bodhisattva is of course a Buddha (of Buddhism) whilst the word 'deity' as related to Chinese worship pertains to Shen-ism or Chinese folk religion.

But leave it to the Chinese of Penang who quite happily conflate all Chinese religious beliefs such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shen-ism, except for Christianity which is too alien to Chinese traditional beliefs. Mind you, local Malay Dato' Kongs are highly respected.

In my kiddy days I lived next door to a Buddhist family who belonged to an extremely strict sect. Because of their strict stern severe beliefs and practices, they gave me reason to believe they were Jains (followers of Jainism) rather than Buddhists.

The religion of Jain is very similar to Buddhism but with what I believe to be far more strict practices. For example, some Jains even use a broom to sweep the grounds before them as they walk, to avoid stepping on ants and bugs.

But my neighbours were Buddhists, not Jains. One day they told my parents who were devoted Buddhists (Dad was a Theravadan whilst mum was a Mahayanan) that they (my parents) were pagans, wakakaka.

When my dad explained to them we were fellow Buddhists, the father of the neighbour sneered at my parents and retorted they (my parents) were NOT strict enough, wakakaka again. He then went about explaining what my parents ought to be doing as Buddhists.

I can't remember what happened next but my dad was somewhat like Clint Eastwood, a man with very few words. I suspect Dad had even less words with them after that encounter, wakakaka.

Anyway, I have rambled and wandered off from my intended topic. Now, back to Kuan Im Teng along along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, there has been a hundred-year old legend (or myth) that no one could steal any items from the altar of the Goddess of Mercy, which I know from observations since as a wee lil' kid, was laden with dozens and dozens of gold necklaces, gifts from devotees.

No one, not even the temple wardens had ever tinkered with the necklaces (as far as I know). Devotees just keep adding on to the (necks of the) icons the gold necklaces in their appreciation, gratitude or whatever for the Bodhisattva.

Many were the stories about reckless blokes who attempted to steal those necklaces but on doing so found themselves trapped within the temple and in a daze until temple wardens handed them over to the law.

Well, the thief of the reclining Buddha was caught not by divine powers but by CCTV and the police, wakakaka. Hallelujah.


  1. The CCTV alone would have meant very little - the thieves would have just been Unidentified Man A and Unidentified Woman B. Nurin Jazlin's kidnapper/murderers were caught on CCTV twice - the actual kidnap incident, and when one of them dumped her body in a bag in front of a shophouse. To this day the perpetrators have not been identified and nobody charged.

    What cracked this latest case was the dumbo woman wearing her company uniform to assist in the theft. Whoever wears their workplace uniform to carry out a crime ?

    The British were hardly alone in stealing antiquities.

    In the Pergamon Museum in Berlin , one interior wall consists of the entire Ishtar Gate, one of the city gates of ancient Babylon. Amazing structure "Lifted" from Iraq in the 1930's.

    The Louvre in Paris is the most amazing place to view Egyptian antiquities , all "borrowed without permission" at the time.

    But the British were without doubt the champion "lifters".

    1. don't forget the Germans still having the bust of Nefertiti and a necklace from the diggings at Ilium (Troy)

  2. BTW, Jeff Ooi, DAP MP for Jelutong is not a lawyer.
    He ran an IT consultancy before joining politics.

  3. It's really curious that the got off with a fine, when theft usually involves a jail term.

    And yes, that is Jeff Ooi the Jelutong MP all right.

    I did not know he is a lawyer. I somehow understood him to be into IT who set up a web portal for the Subang Jaya community in the 1990s and blogger who wrote in his blog Screenshots who got sued along with fellow blogger Ahiruddin Atan (Rocky) for allegedly defaming the NST and a journalist for plagiarism.

    Jeff was in Gerakan at the time and the two comrades in keyboards were fighting alongside fellow keyboard warriors from both sides of the political divide against the then "public enemy number one" Pak Lah. (I wonder what evil Pak Lah doth wrought).

    He also had a column on blogging in the magazine I used to write for.

    Shortly before GE12 in 2008, Jeff - the one our magazine described as "a prominent blogger" joined the DAP, ran for MP in Jelutong and won.

    It was a real blog and tweet-fest when Jeff announced his candidacy at the Food Foundry Restaurant in Section 17, Petaling Jaya.

    However, I heard that when Jeff got down to the ground in Jelutong, he discovered that few there knew of this "prominent blogger", so he had to roll up his sleeves and campaign the old fashioned way - in person, and he won.

    Then as a last fling at blogging, Jeff was featured in the media blogging from within a parliament parliamentary sitting.

    Shortly after, he posted less frequently on Screenshots and eventually pretty much faded from the blogosphere.
    rather surprisingly, Jeff the Jelutong MP is very much below the media radar screen.

    Blogging was the hip, hype and happening thing back in 2007 & 2008 and every reasonably tech-savvy person wanted to have a blog.

    Well, the latest fad today would likely be to create one's own cryptocurrency and go for an initial coin offering.

    As Larry Elisson, co-founder,Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Oracle once said - "The computer industry is more fashion-driven than women's fashion" in reply to a question about what he thought about what is called "cloud computing".

    1. The photo is Jeff Ooi , Jelutong MP appearing in his court case. He is not a lawyer.

      Most Pakatan MPS have been charged with something or another by the authorities.
      It's a badge of honour.

      In fact , IF an Opposition MP has not attracted a charge of some kind by the authorities for something or another, he probably is doing his job.