Saturday, January 22, 2011
In cilia we trust

(Image taken from Performing Musican.)

The loudness of calls to prayer and sermons broadcast by mosques should be regulated. The same goes for sound emanating from any house of worship, whatever the religion. While the religiously-inclined might argue that this would somehow impede their ability to practice their faith effectively, there ought not be a separate standard for sound originating from religious practice.

The recent claim by Pekida and Perkasa that the request by Pantai Dalam resident Ng Kian Man for Al Kalsiah Mosque to lower the volume of its azan threatened racial harmony is, therefore, a ridiculous one. More so their demand for an apology to the Muslim community.

Equally misplaced was MCA President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's suggestion that religious bodies have a sit-down to discuss acceptable noise levels, as though sounds made in the name of God were distinct from those not divinely inspired.

Sound is sound. My ears cannot tell the difference between noise coming from a football stadium, construction site, an overenthusiastic neighbour who belts out Hokkien songs on his karaoke machine—and yes, even a mosque. If sound reaches a level where it can disrupt day-to-day life or damage hearing, that's a bad thing. It doesn't really matter whether God told you to do it, or if you think you have the God-given talent to sing 'Kan Chit Pue'.

I don't know if the mosque really blared out the muezzin's call at unbearable levels as claimed by Ng. However, in the interest of fairness, when his complaint was made, out the sound level meters should have come. The question should be: how many decibels, not how many foam-mouthed adherents with spare effigies to burn.

For an administration for whom the term 'flip-flop' is not just a slang for slippers but apparently a decision-making strategy, such an objective approach would bring welcome respite from accusations of terminal inconsistency that have been levelled against it.

Legislation already exists at federal and local levels detailing acceptable noise levels.

The Environmental Quality Act 1974 defines a pollutant as any substance which 'alters the quality of any segment or element of the receiving environment so as to affect any beneficial use adversely', including noise. Section 23 of the act goes on to state that no person shall emit or cause or permit to be emitted any noise greater in volume, intensity or quality in contravention of the acceptable conditions, unless licenced to do so.

I've seen clubs blaring loud music shut down for being a public nuisance. It's time the government turn a deaf ear to 'sensitivities' and treat mosques, churches and temples the same way.

TAGS: malaysia politics religion
posted by Hong at 5:28 am | Permalink |