COMMENT | The Orang Asli and the Palestinians

COMMENT | I had a school friend who came from Beirut, an Arab girl called Nadine, who wore her crucifix with pride. Today, I still have trouble convincing some Malays that not all Arabs are Muslims.

I experience the same difficulty trying to persuade other Malays that the word "Allah" has been used by Arab Christians for centuries, even before the advent of Islam.

According to Nadine, Beirut city was both sophisticated and cosmopolitan, a melting pot of cultures, where East met West, where an influx of foreigners enriched the city's cultural and social life.

The local population of predominantly Muslim and Christian Arabs lived happily side by side. It was a city of tolerance. The people of Beirut could swim in the Mediterranean, then take a two-hour drive to ski on the slopes of the mountains overlooking the city.

She described Beirut as heaven on earth, until she and her family had to flee when civil war erupted. Other friends blamed Palestinian resistance groups for Beirut's fall.

Malaysia wants to be seen to be doing something for the Palestinians, but it can't even choose a respected person, to its special envoy to the Middle East. Abdul Hadi Awang is not fit for the purpose. As a man of the cloth, he has failed to embrace the diversity of the Malaysian people or attempt to unite us by emphasising our similarities.

He was not part of ... 

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