Mujahid Yusof Rawa is a clown


 

Mujahid Yusof Rawa is a clown

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/467368

Image result for Circus Clown

By THAYAPARAN– Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of the National Patriots Association.

 

Enough of beating up on a marginalised community. Does it make you feel strong and powerful? Do you know you endanger their lives and safety every time you attack them?”

– Ambiga Sreenevasan

COMMENT I have one question for Mujahid Yusof Rawa. If the LGBT “practices” are illegal, why isn’t the government rounding up LGBT people and incarcerating them? Mujahid asked this question of his critics before and babbled on about how these people have not committed any crime – “I have explained that (it cannot be done) unless they have committed a crime,”

However, we know that in Malaysia, if you are from the LGBT community – and Muslim – you will be whipped if your “practices” are discovered – “Two women convicted for attempting sexual relations will be fined and caned, a prosecutor said today, in a rare case against same-sex couples in the country.”

In a piece I wrote about the road to a theocratic state, I asked Mujahid to keep his mouth shut when it came to these issues, instead of playing to the far right crowd – “And no Mujahid, I do not want you to arrest them. I want you to keep your mouth shut about them, and instead create a counter-narrative that Harapan’s Islam is about promoting a first class education for your brethren, weeding out corruption in the political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is one of the best in the region, and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices, so young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to the citizens of this country.”

Obviously, he did not take my advice. Instead, Mujahid has done what the Umno regime did before, which is demonise human rights groups, like Sisters in Islam and the WAO for standing up for the rights of disenfranchised citizens of this country in the recent woman’s right march, which he found offensive because it included the rights of the LGBT community.

I have never believed that Mujahid was a reformer like he claimed he was. His allies, who included many prominent non-Malay supporters, held Mujahid as an example of the kind of Islamic moderation this country would have if ever Harapan came into power. We now know that for the lie it was.

Obviously, he did not take my advice. Instead, Mujahid has done what the UMNO regime did before, which is demonise human rights groups, like Sisters in Islam and the WAO for standing up for the rights of disenfranchised citizens of this country in the recent woman’s right march, which he found offensive because it included the rights of the LGBT community.

I have never believed that Mujahid was a reformer like he claimed he was. His allies, who included many prominent non-Malay supporters, held Mujahid as an example of the kind of Islamic moderation this country would have if ever Harapan came into power. We now know that for the lie it was.

Mujahid is a big proponent of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, and Harapan seems enamoured of hate speech laws. But you can bet your last ringgit these laws would be used to safeguard the religion of the state and not crack down on hate speech that happens in social media. Marginalised communities like the LGBT community, who are routinely savaged by some Harapan supporters, will, of course, be exempt from these laws.

Want to know what real hate speech is? Read the comments on social media, describing the community in the most hateful language. Then compare those comments with the actions of the state and federal governments when it comes to this community. Bullies, especially those who weaponise religion and culture, always target the marginalised in communities before working up the courage to move on to bigger targets.

Consider what Mujahid said: “I am shocked by the actions of a handful of people today who abuse the democratic space to defend practices that are against the Islamic teachings.”

This is the kind of slimy double talk religious operatives engage in. Forget the fact that so-called moderate Muslims like Mujahid have always been accused by the Islamic far right of abusing the democratic space to go against the teachings of Islam (or their version of it). But since when do the teachings of Islam determine how our public spaces are used in this country? Is it in our Federal Constitution?

There are colonial-era laws against specific sexual practices involving same sex individuals, but where in our Constitution does it say we cannot use our democratic space to voice out issues that go against Islam? Harapan is attempting to blur the line between criticising Islam and insulting Islam, but this is exactly what the UMNO regime did, and religious operatives like Mujahid were telling non-Malays and Muslims to speak up instead of ignoring the corruption of the state and Islam.

I get that we cannot “insult Islam” and could get up to 10 years imprisonment for this, but is the Harapan regime’s policy that we cannot use our democratic space to go against the teachings of Islam, even if such teachings go against our constitutional rights? Is this official Harapan policy? Where are all the non-Malay political operatives who were speaking out against this kind of discrimination before May 9?

Mujahid also said that it was up to the Home Ministry to take action against the organisers of the rally for holding a rally without a permit. How many times, when the Harapan regime was the opposition, did they hold rallies without permits, and political operatives like Mujahid encouraged people to attend those rallies because it was our democratic and constitutional right?

I guess when people accuse PAS and UMNO of being hypocrites, we may as well add Mujahid to the list.

Hew Wai Weng, in an article last year for the New Mandala, discussed the ‘Himpunan Kebangkitan Ummah’ (Ummah Awakening Gathering), noting: “The new Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Rawa was criticised for ‘not defending Zakir Naik’ and ‘compromised on LGBT issues’. PAS leaders tried, through these criticisms, to portray a more ‘Islamic’ image compared with Pakatan’s Muslim leaders.”

Which is why, like an insecure person in a position of political and social power, Mujahid always has to display his religious and racial bona fides, because he is in a coalition which loudly proclaimed they were the progressive coalition of Malaysia.

Furthermore, he belongs to a moderate “Islamic” party – Amanah – which gets a lot of love from easily fooled non-Muslims, but which has, so far, merely conformed to the religious narratives of the Malay far right.

For most so-called progressives and the Malay right which supports Harapan, specifically the Bersatu faction, this is a non-issue. These people hate the LGBT community and understand their speech will always be protected by the state. Nobody cares that this is a government which claims to want to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens, but has no problem using religion to suppress the voice and rights of those it considers politically expendable.

How toxic is Harapan’s Islamic agenda? Well, you have someone who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for insulting Islam and nobody in the Harapan political establishment has spoken out about it, excluding the always forthright Latheefa Koya.

Now, you have a minster in the Harapan regime attempting to hoodwink Malaysians into believing our democratic spaces can only be used for those issues which do not go against the teachings of Islam. Mujahid Rawa’s Islamic state of play is only going to get more toxic, and so far there is nobody in Harapan willing to confront it.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of the National Patriots Association.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

The ticking time bomb of Hatred


March 17,2019

The ticking time bomb of Hatred

Image result for terror in new zealand

In just twenty-four hours, the world is aghast, again.

Human brutality instigated by religious and ethnic hatred has resurfaced. A cynic would say this has been going on for centuries, so what else is new?

The difference is, that in the last 30 years, the internet has played a key role. The ease and speed in the dissemination of racist and bigoted ideology have allowed hateful ideology to spread anonymously.

Both the Christchurch mosque massacres are a human catastrophe, but it is not unexpected. It reveals that we humans continue in our ignorance, sinister manipulation and arrogance.

The despicable actions of modern terrorists are responses to the rhetoric and hate speeches of our leaders. They too use the internet to spread their hate speech, both covertly and openly.

Lately, Malaysia’s leadership has been slipping into the same cauldron. The race and religious rhetoric continues to divide Malaysian society.

We may read umpteen times, that “deep down in every Malaysian, we are really a peaceful, harmonious people”. This may be true.

However, in the months after May 9, 2018, perceptions have changed again. Malaysians are bombarded by racial and religious rhetoric from the leadership.

“Rhetoric and insincerity have no place in post-GE14 Malaysia. The main takeaway from the Christchurch terrorist act is that the ticking time bomb was wired by political rhetoric and self-serving leaders in the first place. The result is a growing global polarisation between nations, religions and ethnicities.”–Sharifah Munirah Alatas

Mantras like “upholding the special rights of the Malays”, “threats to Islam”, “DAP is in control”, etc. are platforms onto which both PH and the opposition have latched. The real issues of governance and reforms, have once again been sidelined.

Using the ethereal notion of “threat” as a smokescreen, Malaysian politics has been reduced to a dangerous and manipulative divide-and-rule game.

The Christchurch gunman acted on these very cliches. It is a global phenomenon. Malaysians should decide once and for all, if we want to continue down this path. Our leaders have to wake up and smell the teh tarik.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia are bracing themselves for a verbal retaliation to the Christchurch massacre.

Already, a few “educated” academics claim that Malaysian politicians and muftis will start the narrative that “Muslims must ready themselves for the glorious jihad”; that mosque sermons will be slanted for “the ongoing war with the kafirs”.

Recently, a piece of this nature was circulated on social media. The article appealed for Muslims to be introspective and to ask if the shooting is the result of the Muslims’ own arrogance and extremist tendencies.

The question was contextualised within the argument that Muslims globally are rather silent on the IS and other Muslim terrorist killings.

The logic is that, we (Muslims) have no moral right in our indignation of white supremacist terrorism because our “own backyard is strewn with garbage”. This is not only objectionable but grossly ineffective.

In 2010, leading Pakistani clerics published fatwas, endorsed by Al-Azhar University, that condemn terrorism, indiscriminate violence and the unlawfulness of imposing Islam on others.

In 2008, about 6,000 Indian Muslim clerics approved a fatwa against terrorism at a conference in Hyderabad. This fatwa was termed “The Hyderabad Declaration”.

In 2010 the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada issued a fatwa against terrorism, signed by 20 North American imams. That same year, a major international conference convened in Mardin, Turkey. It issued a declaration to dismiss a 14th century fatwa by Ibn Taymiyyah which was used to justify terrorism.

In 2005, Malaysia’s own Sheikh Muhammad Afifi Al-Akiti published a fatwa condemning the targeting of innocents by terrorists. This was in response to the London bombings.

In 2004, the “Amman Message” was declared. It affirmed the validity of all eight schools of thought, including Sunni, Shia, Ibadi, Ash’arism and Sufism. The Amman Message also declared the impermissibility of takfir (declaring another Muslim to be an apostate).

In 2003, the Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars issued a fatwa concerning suicide bombings and terrorism. It reiterated that those who commit these acts are contravening Islamic law.

There is an irresponsible attitude by some, as if to suggest that the actions of the Christchurch terrorist can be justified.

Public intellectuals and academics should be responsible in their tasks. They should be above sensationalism for cheap publicity. Politicians must not get involved in rhetorical racial and religious discourse, aimed at voter manipulation.

All of us should wake up from our slumber and realise that we are all to blame for the current dire straits we find ourselves in. Stop the finger-pointing. Admit to mistakes, and work together in overcoming society’s challenges.

Ego has no place. Race and religion should never be used as a political tool. Mass political behaviour, being what it is, finds comfort in collective grievances. Use these grievances to unite, not to divide.

Politicians and religious leaders should stop their puppet performances. Academics and public intellectuals should get over their egos and write the truth.

Image result for the Christchurch terrorist act

Rhetoric and insincerity have no place in post-GE14 Malaysia. The main takeaway from the Christchurch terrorist act is that the ticking time bomb was wired by political rhetoric and self-serving leaders in the first place. The result is a growing global polarisation between nations, religions and ethnicities.

Let us start to work together, amidst our diversity. This is not a rhetorical appeal.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Forever pendatang, forever dhimmi, forever grateful


Forever pendatang, forever dhimmi, forever grateful

 

 

multiracial-malaysia

None of us can change the past; we can only try to make the most of our diversity and endeavour to forge a better future. And that journey can only truly begin when we confront the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and expose it for what it is – a sinister and contemptible racist creed that has no place in a multicultural constitutional democracy like ours.”-–Dennis Ignatius

Over the past few weeks, as the competition between Pakatan Harapan and the UMNO-PAS alliance for the Malay vote has heated up, we’ve been given stark reminders of how the UMNO-PAS leadership views non-Malays and what we can expect should the Ketuanan Melayu ideology they espouse dominate Malaysian politics.

Their view of non-Malays, put simply, is forever pendatang, forever dhimmi and forever grateful.

Pendatang forever

The concept of the non-Malay as pendatang (or “penumpang”, a similar term that acting UMNO president Mohamad Hasan recently used to describe non-Malays), is of course, intrinsic to the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and is central to the thinking of UMNO and PAS leaders.

Whether pendatang or penumpang, the idea is the same: non-Malays are interlopers, without commitment or loyalty to the nation and, therefore, undeserving of equal treatment or constitutional protection. It is intended to strip them of their very identity as Malaysians and suggests that they have no inherent right to be here.

In their view, non-Malays, no matter how long they have lived here, are pendatangs and penumpangs and will always remain so. Others – Muslims from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Middle East – can migrate to Malaysia and quickly become proud Malays but Malaysian-born non-Malays are doomed to remain pendatangs and penumpangs in perpetuity unless they convert.

Dhimmi forever

This racial division is further reinforced by a religious worldview that segregates Malaysians according to their faith into Muslim and dhimmi. In historical Islam, the ‘dhimmi’ were conquered people who had submitted to Islamic rule. They had few rights, had to pay a special tax and be forever subservient to Muslim authority in exchange for protection. Some Islamic scholars have also argued that dhimmis are automatically excluded from all participation in the political process.

No surprise then that men like Hadi Awang are constantly complaining that there are too many non-Muslims in parliament or that key positions like the chief justice and attorney-general are held by non-Muslims. In their twisted theocratic version of Malaysia, non-Malays, as dhimmis, have no business being in parliament or holding important positions.

The religious establishment is, of course, largely supportive of this religious division; in recent discussions on the issue, the muftis of Pahang and Perak, for example, insisted that there was nothing wrong in viewing non-Muslims as dhimmis.

Forever grateful

And for this privilege – the privilege of being pendatang and dhimmi forever, non-Malays are expected to remain forever grateful. As Hadi Awang likes to constantly remind us all, “Other races should appreciate [that] Muslims… accepted them as citizens and allowed them to practise their religion and use their language.”

Citizenship is no longer viewed by Ketuanan Melayu ideologues as part of the Merdeka agreement between all Malaysia’s ethnic communities but as an act of unilateral generosity for which eternal gratitude must be given. For Hadi, such gratitude must be manifested by perpetual submission, docility, and servility especially involving anything PAS says or does. To do otherwise is to be ungrateful and unmindful of Malay sensitivities.

An existential threat

Of course, UMNO and PAS leaders insist that all this does not amount to discrimination against non-Malays. Mohamad Hasan, for example, insisted that he was not trying to sideline non-Malays, that he wanted every community to “feel comfortable” while PAS vice-president Iskandar Abdul Samad reiterated that PAS-UMNO cooperation would not give rise to an extremist government.

It is a sign of how delusional, irrational, even duplicitous UMNO and PAS have become to expect non-Malays to be comfortable with such a racist system or that non-Malays will see such policies as anything but extremist.

As well, dividing the nation into Muslims and dhimmis might be acceptable in a theocratic Islamic state like Saudi Arabia but it can never be acceptable in a secular democratic state like Malaysia. Far from bestowing a divine right to rule on anyone, the Federal Constitution bestows upon all citizens – Muslim and non-Muslim – certain inalienable rights, rights that may not be unilaterally abrogated by muftis or anyone else.

It goes without saying that the Ketuanan Melayu vision of Malaysia is at variance with the Federal Constitution. It threatens to strip non-Malays of their constitutional rights, privileges and protections. Clearly, it is not the Malays and the position of Islam that are under threat; it is the non-Malays who now face an existential threat from the Ketuanan Melayu ideologues and their followers.

Given this situation, it is hard to fathom how the MCA and MIC can continue to remain unperturbed by UMNO-PAS cooperation or how they can continue to work with the very groups that are out to disenfranchise the minority communities they claim to represent. Are they so devoid of principle that they would minimize the very real dangers that the Ketuanan Melayu ideology of UMNO and PAS now poses to non-Malays just for the sake of a few crumbs from UMNO’s table?

Confronting Ketuanan Melayu

The Federal Constitution indisputably acknowledges Islam as the official religion of the Federation and confers special rights on the Malays but that can never be used to justify an ethno-religious apartheid state or legitimize a system of discrimination against any citizen. Like it or not, Malaysia is by constitutional mandate a secular democracy that makes no distinction between Muslim and dhimmi or Malay and pendatang. And, like it or not, we are all Malaysia’s sons and daughters.

None of us can change the past; we can only try to make the most of our diversity and endeavour to forge a better future. And that journey can only truly begin when we confront the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and expose it for what it is – a sinister and contemptible racist creed that has no place in a multicultural constitutional democracy like ours.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 13th March 2019]

 

 

 

 

Malaysia: Living in a Time of Jittery Politics


March 14, 2019

Malaysia: Living in a Time of Jittery Politics

By  Dr. Sharifah Munirah Alatas

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2019/03/12/politics-of-identity-is-ruining-democracy/

Image result for MALAYSIA

We live in an era of jittery politics. Established democracies like Britain, France and the US are facing historic political crises.

Image result for Malaysian cabinet 2019

Malaysia has hopped onto the same bandwagon. The essence of the crisis in Malaysia’s democracy today is the inability of the government to address deep divisions in society. These divisions are exacerbated by the digital revolution. Information is dispersed at lightning speed, and the mix of verifiable and fake news has already become destructive.

Across class and geographical divisions, emotions are stirred, negative feelings are amplified and disdain simmers. The people are frustrated. A discerning electorate is healthy for democracy, but our brand of democracy has become a runaway train.

Since May 9, 2018, Malaysians have been coping with inertia, mixed signals and policy retractions (U-turns) from Putrajaya.

The failures of Pakatan Harapan (PH) seem to outweigh its successes. For these successes, however, we should actively highlight, and applaud them.

First, more space has opened up for public expression and assembly. The mood here is less of self-censorship, and more towards speaking one’s mind. This is a significant achievement for Malaysians in general, and democracy in particular.

Second, , as a Malaysian who believes in justice and inclusivity, I am happy that PH acceded to the Rome Statute. As expected, there are trouble-makers who feel otherwise. They are convinced that PH is out to undermine the “relevance” of the Malay race and royalty. It is obvious these critics feel it is their right to “be above the law”.

Image result for Liew Chin tong deputy minister of defense

Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong

Third, there is the emergence of a new “brand” of ministers, specifically those who are putting their tertiary education to productive use. A very good example is Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong (a graduate from the Australian National University).

Liew recently wrote a column in a mainstream newspaper, but it was unlike anything I regularly read from our political leaders.

His conceptualisation of the UMNO-PAS realignment and a possible breakup of Barisan Nasional (BN) had a creative intellectual twist to it.

Liew was also pragmatic in his thoughts. Very few would dismiss him as a “cloudy mind in an ivory tower”. Liew’s application of the “scorched earth policy” to current Malaysian opposition politics demonstrates critical thinking, which Malaysian society hungers for in our leadership.

It is clear that there is a glimmer of hope in a few of our new generation of leaders. Most of what we are used to are rhetorical, rambling politicians who want to be heard for the sound of their voice, and not the quality of their minds.

We need more leaders like Liew who will continue to nurture a sense of pride among the public. This is necessary for a healthy, functioning democracy.

However, Malaysia’s democracy is skewed. A conceptual contradiction exists in the structure of Malaysian politics.

On the one hand, the system champions political parties which represent the peoples’ aspirations. Our wishes are exercised through fair and frequent elections. The ordinary citizen feels empowered. We are able to elect who we think are committed and dedicated to speak on our behalf. Our requests are often presented in parliamentary sittings.

On the other hand, the parties that these elected individuals belong to have platforms that are premised on undemocratic values. Many of these values are neither inclusive nor pluralistic.

There are two important characteristics of democracy. One, elections provide an opportunity to the people to change the present government. Two, it is based on the principle that the people have a say in who governs, with the objective of serving them.

It is the second characteristic that has exposed contradictions in the post-GE 14 political development. There is a fatal misfiring of what we believe democracy should be and what it actually is, Malaysian-style.

The contradictions exist because of the scourge of identity politics. It is fuelled by an ideology of religious and racial supremacy. Nobody is to blame for this but our political and intellectual leadership.

PH’s loss in Cameron Highlands and Semenyih demonstrates how Malaysians are easily manipulated. It also reveals that our political and intellectual intelligentsia permitted it to happen.

Notwithstanding that economic conditions form the basis of all other grievances harboured by Malaysians today, the Semenyih by-election exposed a stark reality. It proved that race, religion and nepotism serve as our ultimate value system.

We are used to BN’s identity politics, and I do not wish to elaborate on it. However, the choice of the PH candidate in Semenyih was shocking, to say the least. Aiman Zainali was unsuitable. The excuse for why he lost was that he is inexperienced. It may be a “kind” way to accept defeat, but it is not the democratic way. The choice of Aiman lacked vision, and was totally dismissive of what the people wanted. This is undemocratic.

Semenyih residents are plagued with traffic congestion, narrow roads, flash floods, a lack of efficient public transport, inept government doctors and overcrowded government clinics. There are too many eating stalls indiscriminately set up everywhere, blocking traffic, not to mention the perpetual stench of rotting wasted food in the drains.

During the campaign period, Aiman spoke to reporters a few times and his statements were flashed on many occasions. He spewed the usual rhetoric, that he would “focus on local issues”, he has “local links” and that the “Semenyih residents here are my friends”. He even said that he has no problem interacting with them.

Again, skewed democracy. Aiman did not interact with Semenyih residents at all. Before his candidacy, we knew nothing of him. Semenyih residents like me are totally ignorant of this young man. This is the main reason voters were ticked off.

The more serious question is, why pretend to be a democratic country if basic democratic values are not upheld?

Aiman was not picked because of his tight bond with “the locals”. Neither was he chosen because of his knowledge of what his constituents required.

Most, if not all voters who abstained on March 2 were convinced he was chosen because he was “the son-in-law”. Nepotism is certainly not a democratic value. This form of identity politics dismisses meritocracy from the equation.

Instead racism, bigotry, cronyism and gender-insensitivity are upheld. Exclusive political alliances on both sides of Malaysia’s political divide will lead to backwardness. The seeds of this have already been sown.

What I have written here is neither a doomsday analysis nor peachy optimism. We have to give the PH government more time.

But, I hope we are not giving them more time to hang themselves. In all societies, education is the screw that will either make or break a civilisation. More Malaysians have to keep harping on this like a broken record.

Where are the voices of academics in our universities? There are so many of us, yet we race to dabble in ranking exercises, useless research and robotic teaching methods.

Minister Maszlee Malik’s task is gargantuan, but he must start making drastic policy reforms. These reforms should be couched in a new ideological narrative.

First and foremost, we need to re-learn what democracy really is. We are no longer in a transitional period from colonialism to independence. The democratic discourse then was alive and fiery.

It seems we have forgotten the true democracy that is embodied in the Rukun Negara. Instead, we focus on “ketuanan Melayu”, Bumiputera rights and protection of Islam as our democratic values.

From kindergarten right up till tertiary education, our youth must be indoctrinated with the values enshrined in the Rukun Negara.

Only then will they understand the true nature of multi-culturalism and living in peace amidst diversity. They will not succumb to rhetoric.

This reformed ideological narrative should condemn racial, religious and sectarian discourse. Reforms should be implemented, that are bold enough to upset racial supremacists.

The government should not be afraid to “rock the boat” if they believe it is the morally sincere and socially-beneficial thing to do. Make a decisive policy change with respect to vernacular schools, for instance.

The bold ban on smoking is one such policy move that society will learn to appreciate in time. Make a decisive policy decision on the UEC. Stop wasting time and resources on discussions in new committees. A wealth of information already exists in books, researched articles and social media.

Malaysians will value less a “Hari Akademia”, and more promotion criteria for university lecturers, based on intellectual merit. Show the public that the government has guts to take a definite stand.

Ultimately, Malaysians need to see that PH is ashamed of the poor quality of our educators. After all, scholars are significant movers of societal change.

Political leaders can learn a lot from these intellectuals. Our education ministry should revamp its policy, with the goal of producing future intellectuals.

In 20 years, we could strive to produce 5. In the last 60 years, can we currently boast of 5?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

242 Shares
214

A Message to a 93-year Politician: Time to Grow Up


March 12, 2019

A Message to a 93-year old Politician: Time to Grow Up

Image result for mahathir

We, speaking up for what we believe to represent the majority of peace loving and responsible Malaysians, condemn the unhealthy trend of irresponsible individuals and political parties in capitalising on the issue of ‘insult to religion’ to gain popularity among voters.

Such callous actions by these individuals and groups, bordering on rabble rousing, will put the country in a heightened state of uneasiness and fear. The government of the day seems unwilling or unable to respond to these acts of opportunism by irresponsible parties for their own selfish ends.

The background relating to the issue of ‘insult to religion’ lies in our colonial and recent past which saw limited education and the mixing of cultures between the different communities. Hence the past need for restrictive laws to preserve public order.

Image result for racist UMNO

However, after 60 years as a nation state making its way towards modernity and the matured liberal, scientific and progressive future envisaged in Vision 2020, it is high time to revisit and revise these laws.

On May 9th, citizens of Malaysia voted out a failing government and ushered in what we hoped would be a new era of mature political discourse and freedom of expression. As with any new manifestation of political culture, there will be teething problems. These problems need to be analyzed and objectively dealt with in the way which developed and mature societies would handle them.

In our country, institutions of religions have been set up to administer each religion with Islam acknowledged in a special situation in the constitutional sphere. Article 3(1) states that, “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

What this means is that insulting Islam is unacceptable in respect of the current laws. Similarly, other religions in the country – even if not enjoying the status of Islam – need to be equally respected.

Striking a Balance In Laws Pertaining to Insulting Religion

In the application of laws prohibiting insulting religion, we must strive for a rational and liberal balance with the protection of the freedom of expression while being mindful of the religious sensitivities of our multi-religious communities. Hence open mindedness and moderation should be the norm in the interpretation and application of the existing laws.

The following are some examples which the holders of state power should not automatically or as a reflex action seek prosecution and punishment just because some individuals or groups label them as constituting religious insult or disrespect:

1. The production or reproduction of religion-related literature and art by Malaysians should be permitted and protected under the law so long as the author is not engaged in what is clearly an act of religious hate crime.

2. Opinions on social issues such as child marriages, female circumcision or other similar subjects are perfectly defensible and permissible as they bear no intention of insult. On the contrary, they provide a contemporary understanding of what are traditionally accepted norms and practices sanctioned by religious authority. The sharing of knowledge on such issues with social and religious institutions and authorities should be encouraged rather than be penalized by the law.

3. Professional opinions on technological, planning design and environmental issues concerning religious buildings or religious actions and rituals should be welcomed as they will help create more sustainable forms and structures that would benefit all members of society.

4. Discourses on spirituality, different forms of religious belief and even agnosticism and atheism should be permitted. Such exchanges of theological and non-theological constructs will enable the nation to grow spiritually as well as be part of the growing universality that is replacing narrow religious, cultural and social constructs.

Protection of the above and other similar expression of thoughts, ideas and constructs are absolutely necessary for Malaysia to grow to become that  “psychologically liberated, secure and developed nation” as envisaged in Vision 2020.

Key Role of National Unity Consultative Council

Image result for siti kasim

Together with the above, in view of the recent national and international attention and publicity  given to the ten year sentence levelled on a recent offender accused of insulting Islam on social media, we call for an urgent phasing out of the laws related to ‘insult to religion’ by instituting the following replacement:

Firstly, such cases construed as ‘insult to religion’ should not be the sole judgement of a single judge for fear of ethnic and religious bias. Such decision should be referred to the National Unity Consultative Council under the purview of the Ministry of National Unity. The NUCC should  comprise noted personalities in societies with representatives of officials from the various religious groups.

Image result for tawfik ismail

Secondly, for the period before the laws of ‘insult to religion’ are to be phased out, punishment should not go beyond a commensurate fine within the financial status of the person being charged.

Image result for prof tajuddin rasdi

Thirdly, once the laws have been phased out, acts pertaining to so-called ‘insult to religion’ should be referred to the NUCC for action. Such action can include collaboration with the respective religious institutions or authorities to ensure that there are no adverse ripple effects from the alleged insult or disrespect; and counselling of the individuals or groups engaging in such action or activities.

Image result for terence gomez

Fourthly, religious leaders in their sermons must regularly advise congregants and members of the faith against insulting others.

Image result for Lim Teck Ghee

We remind our fellow citizens that the resort to law to criminalise opinions and views on religion is a double-edged sword. Let us put that sword away so we do not end as a cut up and impaired nation.

Tajuddin Rasdi

Tawfik Ismail

Siti Kasim

Lim Teck Ghee

Terence Gomez

Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemony) and the End of Malaysia Baru


March 7,2019

Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemony) and the End of Malaysia Baru

by Emeritus Amb. Dennis Ignatius

Nazri Aziz’s appalling comments in Semenyih are yet another stark reminder that we are a nation deeply divided by race and religion. And we grow further and further apart with each passing day thanks to the efforts of people like Nazri who are constantly stirring the pot of bigotry’s bitter brew.

Unfortunately for us, national unity suffers from a lack of credible champions – great leaders who truly believe in the motto etched on our coat of arms that unity is strength (Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu), that it is worth fighting for. Where are the Onn Jaafars willing to stand up for national unity and do battle for it? Has the Ketuanan Melayu ideology so infected the Malay ruling elite than none are willing to fight for national unity?

And where, too, is the counter-narrative to the Ketuanan Melayu ideology? How is it that despite all the angst about the lack of unity, despite all the great speeches about its importance, we have not been able to structure a compelling political, ideological and religious response to the extreme ethno-religious nationalism of UMNO and PAS?

Of course, we have a minister in charge of national unity but does anyone really believe that Waytha Moorthy is going to actually be able to do anything significant to bridge the racial and religious divide? Let’s face it, he is in Cabinet simply as a sop to the Indian community, nothing more; and nothing much is expected of him.

Given that national unity is one of our biggest national challenges, one which impinges on almost everything else, shouldn’t the national unity portfolio be taken by no less than the prime minister himself, or, at the very least, one of the more senior Pakatan Harapan (PH) ministers?

Image result for ketuanan melayu

Dr. Mahathir wants to be remembered as Father of Malay UMNO Unity.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad once excited our imagination with his Bangsa Malaysia vision ( 1986) but since coming to office he has done little to advance it. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem to be a priority with him or anyone else for that matter. National unity is the orphan child that nobody wants to claim.

Mass indoctrination

Like it or not, this is not an issue that is going to get better on its own or autocorrect itself; it’s only going to get worse. Indeed, the continued mass indoctrination of students (at all levels of the education system), government servants, police and armed forces personnel with the Ketuanan Melayu ideology makes this inevitable.

Add to that the vast, self-perpetuating, well-funded and well-motivated religious bureaucracy intent on pushing the same ideology under the cloak of religion and it quickly becomes evident that we are already well on the way to becoming an ethno-religious welfare state, the ultimate Ketuanan Melayu dream.

It is, admittedly, difficult to determine how pervasive the Ketuanan Melayu culture is or what the silent majority (if there’s really one) actually thinks about it, but to the extent that they allow the racists and the bigots to usurp their voice without protest, it is perhaps a moot question.

Reinforcing the threat

Malaysia’s minorities have particular reason to be concerned. The Ketuanan Melayu ideology is premised upon the notion that the Malays as a community face an existential threat – from non-Malays – and must unite to defend “bangsa, agama dan negara” or lose it.

Image result for ketuanan melayu

 

In order to be effective, the threat narrative must be constantly reinforced with new and even bigger revelations of plots and schemes against the Malays and Islam. Suspicion and mistrust must continuously be fuelled at every turn. Every incident must be exploited to reinforce the threat perception. And the lies, half-truths and innuendos must be repeated often enough so that people will believe it. It’s what the Nazis did; it worked for them.

Expect, therefore, as the political contest between UMNO-PAS and PH heats up, yet more outlandish accusations, rumours and insinuations.

Reaching a tipping point?

After the Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections, will PH’s Malay leadership work harder to develop a compelling alternative narrative to counter the racist arguments of UMNO-PAS or will they be tempted to take the easy way out and play the race card themselves? Will they go all out to convince the Malays that the reform agenda benefits them more than any other community or will they abandon it for the sake of political expediency?

Whatever it is, Malaysia is quickly reaching an important tipping point: if no credible Malay leader arises to champion national unity and unite our nation around a common national ideology to counter the Ketuanan Melayu narrative, we may well reach a point of no return, a point where the racial and religious divide becomes irrevocable and irreversible. It will be the end of the great experiment in democratic multiculturalism upon which our nation was premised.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.