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Rewriting Muhyiddin’s script

I SOMETIMES wonder whether government leaders and politicians review what they have said in the media. Over the past few months, it seems that several leaders would benefit from paying attention to how their words are actually more applicable to themselves.

The Nut Graph tried to demonstrate this through a series of comics that captured some of the self-serving arguments being made over the “Allah” issue. But the right to use “Allah” isn’t the only issue that has attracted public statements worth deconstructing.

Before the Chinese New Year weekend, for example, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin decided to attack the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)-led Penang government head-on. This was after it was reported that the northern state had purportedly cancelled its annual Maulidur Rasul procession because Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wanted to undermine Malay Malaysians and Islam.

I doubt that Muhyiddin or his office is even thinking about how the words he used against Penang’s PR government are actually good advice for the Barisan Nasional (BN) government itself.

Muhyiddin’s message

So what exactly did Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, say? Below is part of what was reported by the New Straits Times in its online version on 12 Feb 2010, and in its print version the following day:

DPM: Penang snubbing Muslims

KUALA LUMPUR: The DAP-led Penang government should not use “security reasons” as an excuse to cancel the annual Maulidur Rasul procession in the state, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

He said the event, held in conjunction with Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, was a religious one for Muslims and as a mark of respect for the prophet. 
 
He said the move showed that the state government did not support the aspirations of Muslims. 
 
“The event has become a traditional practice, which should not be discontinued, especially in a situation where the sensitivities of all the races must be safeguarded. 
 

Lim Guan Eng
“Maybe the chief minister (Lim Guan Eng) feels that it is a security risk because of the ‘hot’ situation in Penang now. 
 
“But this should not be the case. I do not think the procession would spark fear or undermine security.

“I’m sure the police and enforcement authorities can handle the situation,” he said after opening the 16th Ar-Rahnu branch of the Koperasi Kesatuan Guru-Guru Melayu Malaysia Barat Berhad at the Cheras Maju business centre here yesterday. 
 
A Malay daily reported yesterday that the main committee of the state-level Prophet’s birthday celebrations had, on Feb 3, cancelled the procession but would hold a gathering at Dewan Sri Pinang. 
 
A circular on the matter had been sent to all heads of department, statutory bodies and local authorities. 
 
Muhyiddin said the state government should carry on with practices which benefited the people because they would show that the leadership understood and respected other religions. 
 
“Does this mean that the DAP does not uphold the aspirations of Muslims? Ask Guan Eng this.”  
 
Muhyiddin said the political upheaval in Penang was not caused by Umno leaders or members as alleged by Lim but sparked off by elected representatives and Pakatan Rakyat leaders. 
 
Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has described the decision by the Penang government as unwise. 
 
“This is not appropriate. It reflects the state government’s assumption that the celebration would only bring about trouble. 
 
“The event is an annual religious programme and there have been no bad incidents at past processions.”

Pot and kettle


(Pic by John Takai / Dreamstime)
It must have been too tempting for the Umno leader to take a swipe at the PR in the name of religious sensitivities and mutual respect. But even if it were true that Lim’s administration had cancelled the Maulidur Rasul celebration that commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, surely some circumspection is necessary on Muhyiddin’s part?

After all, the same words Muhyiddin used against the PR in Penang could also very aptly be used against the BN over the “Allah” issue. And so, the New Straits Times report could well have been rewritten in this way:

DPM: BN snubbing non-Muslims

KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional-led federal government should not use “security reasons” as an excuse to bar non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

He said the word, used in pre-Islamic times and now by non-Muslims in other Muslim countries, was a religious one for non-Muslims and a mark of respect for God.

He said the move to ban the word among non-Muslims showed that the federal government did not support the aspirations of non-Muslims.

“The use of the word ‘Allah’ has become a traditional practice, which should not be discontinued, especially in a situation where the sensitivities of all the races must be safeguarded.

“Maybe the prime minister feels that it is a security risk because of the ‘hot’ situation in the country now (after the 2008 general election).

“But this should not be the case. I do not think the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims would spark fear or undermine security.

“I’m sure the police and enforcement authorities can handle the situation,” he said after opening the 16th Ar-Rahnu branch of the Koperasi Kesatuan Guru-Guru Melayu Malaysia Barat Berhad at the Cheras Maju business centre here yesterday.

The media reported that it was a BN directive in 1986 that gazetted a ban on the word “Allah”, and three others – “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” – on non-Muslims.

A circular on the matter had been sent to all heads of department, religious bodies and local authorities. 
 
Muhyiddin said the federal government should carry on with practices which benefited the people because they would show that the leadership understood and respected other religions. 
 
“Does this mean that the BN does not uphold the aspirations of non-Muslims? Ask the prime minister this.”

Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has described the decision by the BN government as unwise.

“This is not appropriate. It reflects the government’s assumption that the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims would only bring about trouble.

“The word has been used by others for generations and there have been no bad incidents in the past.”

Fantasy

For certain, even thinking that the top Umno leadership would have a sense of empathy for non-Malay and non-Muslim Malaysians is hoping against hope.

And it would clearly be a fantasy if any BN minister even considered how much his or her criticisms against the PR could be more apt against the federal ruling coalition.

Still, perhaps the task of the writer is to juxtapose and highlight, so that the people in power will be reminded to occasionally look at themselves in the mirror and reflect.


Jacqueline Ann Surin was humoured by more than news reports during Chinese New Year. She joined a family reunion dinner with her friend, a Malay-Muslim Malaysian, and his wife, a Peranakan Chinese. Yee sang was tossed, sambal served, wine drunk, and Malay spoken over a traditional Chinese Malaysian reunion.

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7 Responses to “Rewriting Muhyiddin’s script”

  1. Azmi says:

    I doubt whether the people in power ever reflect. Most probably they want their version of heaven on earth immediately, come what may.

  2. Cakaptakserupabikin says:

    I thought he is the only one left in ruling Umno with brains to run the BN. Alas, if this is what he has to offer when dealing with race, religion or language issues in a plural borderless world, I doubt he can command and earn the respect and trust of the rakyat and the world!

  3. abclim says:

    Every Monday morning, students of all races sing the state anthem in Pahang, Johor, Selangor…etc. and sing the song with “Allah”.

    For example, Ya Allah, selamatkan Raja kami (Pahang state song).

    So how? Non-Muslims shouldn’t sing the state [anthem]?

  4. muslim says:

    If we Muslims don’t like how Malaysia is being treated, we Muslims migrate elsewhere. We don’t complain to get cheap publicity like what the author is trying to do…a silly copy cat version. There’s no originality. Wonder did she copy all her work from someone else?

  5. Seladang says:

    By the way, you can find the words “Allah”, “mufti” and many more Arabic words gazetted as banned in the Oxford Dictionaries. Maybe all those dictionaries should be burnt. Fahrenheit 451 anybody?

  6. Isiz says:

    I’m afraid a “pot and kettle” scenario never presents a good argument. I have missed the procession story and do not understand what the “security concerns” are and therefore would be more interested in the real reason rather than reading a parallel. Personally, I’ve never read a good retort from Muhyiddin before. Politicians should not make any statements if they do not have something good to say. Then again, it reflects the minds of Malaysians who voted them into power and we are trapped in a vicious cycle.

  7. phtan10 says:

    Hahaha, well-written :-)


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