PERMATANG PAUH Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s response to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.
(source: parlimen.gov.my)Name: Anwar Ibrahim
Constituency: Permatang Pauh
Party: PKR (Opposition)
Years as MP:
1982-1999 (Permatang Pauh, under Umno)
26 Aug 2008-present (Permatang Pauh, under PKR)
Government post: None
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus: None
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?
Detention without trial is an abomination that can no longer be tolerated by our people. The ISA has no business being in our statute books anymore. It will be abolished the moment Pakatan Rakyat takes over.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Muslims are averse to the western notion of secularity because to them it means the public square is naked, void of any space for religion. Malaysia should continue to be a state where the public domain is influenced by the universal values of Islamic religion, particularly justice and equality for all.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
My role as an MP is to articulate the rakyat’s concerns, hopes and aspirations in the highest forum mandated by our democracy. My task is to convince my fellow parliamentarians that this nation must rise and fulfil the promises vouchsafed them by the Merdeka Proclamation and the constitution.
Parliament provides me with modest means for my role, in particular as Opposition Leader. Those means ought to be augmented but this is not a pressing concern.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I would support such an Act because the more informed our citizenry the more likely are they to make enlightened choices in matters that affect their country’s present dire condition and, by extrapolation, its bleak future.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would create an Election Commission that is truly free and independent.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
The notion of countervailing powers which underlies this separation of powers concept of democratic government is founded on the bedrock truth enunciated by the philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr that “[a person’s] capacity for justice makes democracy possible while his [or her] inclination to injustice makes it necessary”.
In that pithy summary you will find the justification, the necessity even, for the separation of powers that characterises a true democracy. Almost the entire world in the early 21st century is coming around to this bedrock truth.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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Answer to Q2: “Muslims are all the same”.
Perhaps you should put him in touch with Mustapha Mahidin from today’s “Chinese medium schools to the rescue” article.
“Malaysia should continue to be a state where the public domain is influenced by the universal values of Islamic religion, particularly justice and equality for all.”
And here is the problem. Malaysia is a secular state. Our politicians need to respect that. There is nothing wrong with the universal values of Islam, but with the way things are going can we trust the way we interpret these â€œuniversal valuesâ€? That sentence seem to imply we have always been influenced by Islam. If so, why do we keep referring to a specific period of Islamisation? Because this current state of affairs was not always the case. Plus we have a good secular system that has served us ALL well. Why do we need to Islamise our system? Who is demanding it?
Interestingly Anwarâ€™s reply to the question on whether we should be an Islamic or secular state was, â€œMuslims are averse to the western notion of secularity because to them it means the public square is naked, void of any space for religion.â€ I am not sure what it infers when he refers to Muslims in the context of Malaysia rather than Malays (except perhaps claiming a broader/global solidarity-religious as oppose to ethnic).
In any case, it appears somewhat of a false assertion – isnâ€™t it this Western notion of secularity that also sanctions PAS, a religious based party to participate in our democracy? But this brings up another question; does he want Islam to dictate our courts, parliament and public institutions? This really than pulls us into a theological question, what is an Islamic state? Isnâ€™t a person who professes Islam already accountable to act in his/her professional capacity according to the dictates of the faith? But when we translate this personal responsibility into policy, are we not imposing a religious domination on others? Aren’t the universal values as he says, already there in our secular system? Why not simply enforce them? This would cause less contention and disharmony. But as Muslim arenâ€™t we already beholden to our faith to be fair and just in carrying out our duties?
The question between faith and governance need not be contentious if the intentions are sincere. In fact, if Muslims practice their faith at work, they probably donâ€™t even have to mention it. There is no sinister agenda, doing good requires no advertisement. And, if by trying to do good (i.e. Islamise governance because we oppose the irreconcilable difference with the secular state) we create disharmony and mistrust, causing harm to some, are we then doing good at all?
I am somewhat perplexed at his response to what is a simple question. Why turn this into a question of faith? Does governance need a conspicuous religious face? In that case, the next question should be why depend on only one faith for inspiration? In Malaysia, we have Protestant groups, Catholics, Hindu groups, Bahai, Sikhism, several Indigenous religions, different Buddhist groups, Islamic groups, and probably many more that I am not aware of. Are we going to sideline all these other faithful because only â€œMuslims are averse to the western notion of secularityâ€? Be fair. If you are serious about having a religious-inspired system, you need to have a way to represent all religious as equal within the system of governance. No one single religion should dominate the values and practices of Malaysia. If for no other reason, everyone pays taxes and therefore should have their interests represented and protected.
I second KamalÂ´s comment.
Feels like choosing between the Devil (BN) and the deep blue sea (PR)…