WHAT’S wrong with a Muslim saying that religious pluralism is harmful to Muslims? Or for a believer of any faith to say that his or her religion is the true one? Or even for an atheist to be adamant that there is no God?
Nothing. As personal statements of belief, most persons of faith would say that their respective religion, or lack of one, is complete. As a privately held claim, and in line with Article 11 on the freedom of religion, thinking of one’s belief system as superior to others is a right of personal choice.
But is there a problem when a head of government warns citizens against religious pluralism, as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reportedly did on 18 Feb 2011? Was it just Najib exercising his right to a theological stand, as Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) president Rev Thomas Phillips asserted? In responding to Najib’s comments, Rev Phillips advised the public against taking Najib’s statement out of context.
However, it is precisely the Malaysian context that makes it problematic when something like this is said by the head of government. Malaysia is a pluralistic country, where policies and the implementation thereof are largely determined by people of a particular ethnic group and religion. Theological claims to religious exclusivity would not matter as much if all citizens were treated as equal before the law. Nor would it matter as much if politicians did not seek to use religion to divide people. But what really is the situation here?
Najib may have been specifically addressing a meeting of religious teachers. When he said, “To say all religious are equal before Allah is against the Islamic belief”, it may well have been a personal theological opinion. He may also have been sincere in not insulting other religions, as he said.
But with a public delivery system that has been increasingly Islamised arguably from the time of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, was it responsible of Najib to make a statement that could be interpreted as placing Islam above other religions? How sure are we that the rest of his administration and his political cohorts wouldn’t interpret his words to mean that they must prioritise Islam in making decisions?
Intentionally or not, Najib may have merely helped to perpetuate an existing tendency of some politicians and bureaucrats to make decisions according to religious and also racial bias. These are just some examples that demonstrate existing bias in government decisions and actions, whether corporately by state apparatus or individually by their players:
Biro Tatanegara‘s (BTN) indoctrination of civil servants to prioritise “ketuanan Melayu”;
the Home Ministry’s ban of the use of “Allah” by Catholic weekly Herald, which has been pending appeal for over a year. Until the appeal is heard, the ban remains due to a stay of the High Court’s decision overturning the ban;
allegations of Orang Asli tricked or forced to convert to Islam, although this has been denied by the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli;
a 26-year delay for building approval for the Church of Divine Mercy in Shah Alam, which now sits in an industrial area;
the home minister appearing with the cow-head protesters, despite the protesters having threatened violence against the relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam;
demolition or prohibition of church buildings by Orang Asli on their own land;
unilateral moves by certain Education Department officers to close down non-Muslim clubs in schools, and a federal circular requiring new clubs from 2000 onwards to get approval from state education departments;
alleged racial slurs by school principals against non-Muslim pupils; and,
a directive by another school head to non-Muslim pupils not to bring “wet food” to the school’s Children’s Day celebration.
None less than a former minister, Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, told The Nut Graph in an interview of similar frustrations with civil servants during his time in the cabinet. Lim recounted an incident where a government officer blocked his directive for a sum of money to be allocated to a Chinese temple. The reason cited by the officer was that as a Muslim, he could not be aiding other religions. Lim also recalled officers who wanted to end the vernacular school system.
Just how do some in the civil service become so zealous and powerful as to get away with the above examples? As Lim said in his interview: “unchecked … forced nationalism” based on the dominance of one race and religion. The work of BTN is also likely a contributing factor. And now, public remarks like that of Najib’s may only further entrench already narrow mindsets.
One reaction to all this is that Islam is, after all, the religion of the federation as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. But let us also recall what Malaysia‘s founders had in mind: that Islam’s status would not erode Malaysia’s position as a secular state. This historical fact was affirmed by the judiciary in 1988 – that Islam’s role in government was for rituals and ceremonial purposes and that Malaysia was not an Islamic state. There are of course, objections to this judicial decision, and today, one can see how far Malaysia has moved beyond its founders’ position.
As a non-Muslim, I won’t presume to tell Najib what he should have said instead when carrying out his official duty at the meeting of religious teachers. But I do wonder if our leaders from both sides of the divide at the very least think about the impact of their words on all communities.
Otherwise, it’s a joke, really, when Barisan Nasional leaders preach 1Malaysia, yet allow something poisonous like BTN to exist, and then scramble to do damage control when public delivery system implementers let slip their prejudices. And it’s a concern when the Pakatan Rakyat tries to sell its brand of equality when their leaders cannot yet confront their differences over the Islamic state issue, or fall back on communalism in attempts to beat political rivals.
Or maybe it’s not a joke after all. Unfortunately for Malaysia’s diverse peoples, ensuring communal politics has long been a strategic and expedient way to attain and stay in power. But it’s time Malaysians reject politicians who double-speak and use communal politics to their own benefit, to the detriment of the country’s harmony.
Deborah Loh tries not to read too much into things, but given Malaysia’s politics really can’t help it sometimes.
Read other Sideways columns
Fikri Fauzi says
Thank you for your narrow-minded article. How many times do the Malay politicians need to explain to Malaysians the importance of Ketuanan Melayu and Islam? All this is already available in our constitution. Without the Malays, the Chinese and Indians would not get citizenship as Malaysians. Without Malay people, they could not practise their religions freely in this country. People like you who are always trying to spark off uncomfortable discussions about religious and racial matters really don’t understand what could actually happen. You should be thankful to Malay people; [getting] rid of Islam and Ketuanan Melayu will never happen. We as the Malay people will do whatever it takes to preserve it for the next generation. The peninsula of Malaysia will never be like Singapore because we have learnt from our bad experiences.
And it’s because of people like you that Malaysia will always be backwards. Thank you very much.
The monotheistic principle embedded in the Abrahamaic faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity are deeply divided by an inherent dilemma. Within each of these three sister faiths, there lies both the belief of the one true god and the teaching of tolerance of the heathens/kafirs/gentiles/non-believers. It’s a dilemma that remains unsolvable and continues to tear at the moral compass of those who believe too vehemently that they’re the “chosen ones”.
Over centuries, it has sparked many violent clashes, resulting in the deaths of thousands. When Marx wrote “Religion is the opium of the masses” he was attacking the blind adherence of believers to these inherited religion-based prejudices, and he envisioned a post-religion world where people did not have the compulsion to kill or die for something as personal and abstract as faith. Of course, Marx himself never foresaw how his thoughts could’ve been misinterpreted to devastating effect.
Personally I dislike people who are too gungho about their religions or beliefs or philosophies, who are unable to consider other points of view. I consider these people fanatical, fascistic and psychotically dangerous. Because it doesn’t stop. Even after you’ve converted everyone to your faith, you will continue to find fault in them. The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada continued to persecute perfectly good Christians during the Inquisition just because they didn’t follow orthodoxy. The same is happening now in Iran, where Islam is being abused by religious fundamentalists to punish and condemn perfectly innocent people who don’t necessarily want to live their lives as religious zombies.
Religious tenets are only meant to act as a guide, not rule of law. I’m not Muslim, I’ve left Catholicism a long time ago, but I’m not an atheist either. I believe in the spiritual force inherent in all of nature by virtue of existence. Maybe it’s a zen thing. I can accept monotheism if its help its followers to focus their hearts and minds on the spiritual development of the human race as a whole. But other than that, religion is pretty much a waste of resources. It’s time we face up to the fact that humans invented gods and religions in order to simplify the mystery of existence. In other words, it’s a tool to dumb us down. The world is far more complicated and vast than something as insignificant as human-created religion gives it credit for.
In defense of his unwillingness to acknowledge the hand of a god-figure in the creation of life in his wildlife documentaries, David Attenborough summed it up pretty much: “My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy.”
Against the bigger problems facing our world at the moment (the environment and its continual degradation as a shining example), the continuing arguments over Ketuanan Melayu and the Islamic state is really, really, really just goddamn stupid and downright petty. Let’s just stop wasting time, deal with the fact that there will be as many gods as there are people, move on, and do something more constructive with the rest of our lifetimes please.
You are being sarcastic, right? I mean, without the Chinese and Indians in Malaya, the Malayan Union wouldn’t have become the Federation.The Chinese were the ones who actually first went to the British and asked for independence. Umno has been screwing with the history lessons for years. Even the final journey towards independence was not taken up by just the Malays.
As for the article: the PM, the leader of Malaysia, indeed can have personal views that one’s religion is better than another’s. But he can’t go saying “my God is better than yours” when everyone’s taxes pays him. Other people’s votes put him in office.
That is to be politically correct. And to be decent, you don’t insult other people’s beliefs. There is a line you don’t cross. When you cross it too many times, people will snap, and what happens next will be an avalanche of problems, whereby sugarcoating and putting on a new coat of paint will not be able to hide it.
Capt Sudhir says
Enlighten me, Mr Fikri Fauzi, what bad experience have you had from the non-Muslims/non-Malays? Was anyone in your family not allowed to practise being a Muslim by any non-Muslim individual or organisation? [Do you] really think that non-Muslims are out to prevent you from being a Muslim?
It is people like you who are so afraid to think for yourself and ponder on the fact the the universe thrives on diversity and not uniformity that gives all religions the bad rep.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself, does GOD really need you to be a Malay to be a Muslim? Is God so feeble-minded? […]
When you can’t see the truth for yourself but have to pander to someone else’s notion of race and religion, your mind is no more yours. True religion is only about SPIRITUALITY, not about the colour of your skin or your parents’. It is about you. Seek it inside and keep it inside. When you have to assert your belief by championing race and religion on another, you become more dogmatic not spiritual.
Do you mean that Islam, as a religion, is better than any other religions? And that Malay is a superior race to other races in Malaysia? All religions and races should co-exist in harmony. This can only happen if no particular race claims itself better than others, and no particular religion claims itself better than other religions. Race is just a communal identity and religion is an expression, interior and exerior of what you believe; faith between you and your creator. You cannot force others to follow your culture, nor can you force others to accept what you believe.
People have their rights to accept or not to accept. The choice is theirs. Stop being arrogant and get out from under your coconut shell. Learn from others and understand their cultures and religions. Then you can understand your own culture and religion better.
Your claim that without the Malay people, the Chinese and Indian [Malaysians] would not get their citizenship. Go back to before Merdeka […] you should be thankful that Chinese and Indians came to Malaya. These were the peoples who brought economic growth to Malaya. Look at the Muslim countries in the Middle East. Know what is happening there! Do you want a similar occurrence in Malaysia?
No race, no religion and and no community should be discriminated against. All should be treated equally as human beings.
Nowaday, people mix-up race with religion. They don’t know how to live without religion, therefore religion is equal with their race and life. My understanding on religion is that it is a belief, something you rely on when you face problems or pressure, and a guideline for you to do good (as all religions advise people to do good). A long time ago, most people were not educated, so they needed religion to guide them from above. Today, we are all educated, so religion should be a supplement, not a need. I don’t understand why people have to go to war for it. Sad!
JW Tan says
Thank you, I have had the “importance” of Ketuanan Melayu and Islam shoved down my throat throughout my youth in Malaysia. So I am well aware of that particular perspective. And I disagree – strongly.
I am Malaysian, and I love my country. I hate the opinion that I owe some of my fellow Malaysians anything simply because they are descended from the people who allowed my ancestors to immigrate. I owe them nothing, and I need be thankful to them for nothing. I have every right, as a Malaysian, to practise any religion I wish, or none, and I should have equal rights with any other Malaysian (but I don’t). I will protect any other Malaysian’s right to do these things, but I cannot countenance another Malaysian taking away my rights.
You say I should be thankful to Malay Malaysians because I have citizenship because of them. Why aren’t you, as a Malay Malaysian, thankful to Chinese and Indian Malaysians for the economic growth that they bring? For the disproportionately high taxes that they pay? If I am ungrateful, so are you. If you think I should be ashamed, well, look in the mirror.
I honestly don’t care whether or not you value my contribution as a Chinese Malaysian. I don’t care whether you feel ashamed. All I care about is that you respect my right to be a Malaysian, equal to you and to any other, in all respects.
I strongly agree with Fikri Fauzi. Other races nowadays are starting to demand equal rights with the indigenous races in Malaysia (Malays, natives of Sabah and Sarawak). Can you see their end game? Starting off debating small irrelevant stupid topics to overwhelm these indigenous peoples. Please take note that the Malays have put up and tolerated much rubbish from these ungrateful people. All they do is keep on demanding. It will never stop, until Malaysia becomes like Singapore.
The article, I would like to believe, is to address people with similar mentalities like Fikri Fauzi. Exactly!
Non-muslims need to awake to the current and growing threat to their freedom to practise their own religious faiths in this country.The government has been putting up obstacles […], subtle or otherwise, to hinder the practice of other faiths.There is no need for further elaboration here.
Vasanth Iynkaran says
I thought that this was a fantastic article. It seems that race and religious politics always seem to make the headlines causing people from both sides to get their blood boiling.
Where is the human love that religions are supposed to preach? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a society which embraced everybody and found cultural differences to be fascinating and not threatening?
You’ve been spewing a lot of rubbish leftist agenda. Your examples have nothing to do with religious pluralism. You connected the examples of Najib’s statement with one ill purpose: to demean him. Very unprofessional, biased writing.The fact that Anwar promotes religious pluralism you gave a miss. Then when Rev Thomas told the truth and supported Najib you were filled with disdain and had to write this piece of rubbish. Shame on you.
JW Tan says
I’d say that Najib, and the vast majority of other Malaysian politicians, need little help to demean themselves.
Najib speaks to all voters every time he opens his mouth. He is the prime minister, after all. He cannot promise one constituency of voters something and deny that he made that promise when questioned by another constituency. If he cannot handle even something as simple as this, well, he is incompetent and shouldn’t be prime minister. The other interpretation is that he did it deliberately and has no truck with religious or racial tolerance.
Jw I’m referring to the writer’s thou than holier attitude. As for politicians, look at Anwar. He rallied thousands on an anti-Jew [agenda] on one afternoon and then before the Jews in US apologised for the same. Similarly, look at his his famous proposed takeover of the federal government asking MPs jump ship, but when MPs jumped the other way he barked illegality. Some rakyat believed him in both scenarios.
Now back to the writer, she has a different agenda. She’s a very pro-opposition, creating issues even on the tiniest matter. My commentary is to highlight the deplorable standard of journalism.
JW Tan says
I agree Anwar is a chameleon, but Jewish people in the US do not vote for him, so in your example he is not doing what Najib is doing – lying to at least one set of voters.
I disagree entirely that it is deplorable journalism. It’s deplorable journalism if the facts that are set out are wrong, or the logic flawed, or the conclusion nonsensical. None of these seem to apply (I cannot judge the first, but TNG is usually quite good editorially). The writer has written a pro-opposition article – this is perfectly fine.
I posted somewhere else that in Malaysia, sadly, disagreement is equated with disrespect. That is completely untrue. Disagreement implies that the disagreer cares strongly enough to voice an opinion. That is actually a great deal of respect, certainly more than if the disagreer didn’t care.
I cannot follow your logic. Didn’t Anwar lie to one set of Malaysian voters when he spewed Jewish vituperations which he never believed in? Why are you defending what is blatantly wrong and distinguishing this wrong?
On journalism, if your idea of journalism is to take everything out of context as justifiable, it reflects your values. The intent of this journalist is to rise the bile of hatred by nitpicking out-of-context issues and selecting biased examples.
Of course when people write articles, they definitely have their reasons for doing so, be it for fun, for expressing their opinion or to inform and educate others.
What Deborah has written is not rubbish but fair comment on the situation and I would try to explain why. The topic under discussion is pluralism, religious pluralism to be exact. Foremost, we have to define pluralism as it has many different meanings. Google it and you will be able to find so many articles on it. I quite like the project Harvard University has undertaken and their definition of what pluralism is at their website http://pluralism.org/pages/pluralism/what_is_pluralism .Pluralism is not that all religions are equal or the same. They may have similar teachings and some even originated from the same source but all are different in their own way.
The writer has already stated that the PM has the right to say what he has said in his personal capacity as a Muslim but knowing our [mainstream media], he should have qualified himself as such instead of letting the press have a free run. In fact, the Minister in the PM’s Department had already made a statement on pluralism and the PM need not have [done so]. If he had wanted to, he should have come out with a neutral statement that all religions are different and we could not compare one with the other. Everyone including Muslims can accept that, right?
Anyway, Revd Thomas was just being nice and cordial in saying as he has, in apparent support of the PM, but if you read between the lines, the Revd has in fact put in his own statement that his religion is also not equal to the others. So, both the Revd and the PM have said the same thing but the big difference is that the Revd is the leader of his flock but the PM is the “leader” of all Malaysians. You see the difference?
As for the other points brought up by the writer, they are pertinent to the issue under discussion. They are to show that the government is intolerant of other religions which are enshrined in our constitution. The examples prove that the Islamic authorities have in fact considered other religions as, not only unequal but inferior and do not deserved to be treated justly and fairly. Do you see and feel the connection here?
And what do you want the writer to say about Anwar promoting religious pluralism? That Anwar is the leader of all the people for promoting acceptance of people of all faiths (or none) being equal to one another? That could be his definition of religious pluralism as is mine.
By the way, I do not know the writer nor do I have any political affiliations. I am just a normal citizen who has lived through Merdeka and have seen my beloved country getting from bad to worse and so divided. It is sad indeed.
To the contrary. I see no wrong at all in Najib saying that in his official capacity. Similarly Rev Thomas said this in his official capacity too. You know why? It’s never an issue. This was an accepted and understood practice in our values and culture. Each religion believes their religion is superior. Just listen to Nik Aziz’s doa in official capacity. He’s saying the same thing.
The problem is when journalists nitpick out-of-context scenarios to incite hatred and resentment. This is wrong. In this regard they are no different from Perkasa.
Andrew I says
“You connected the examples of Najib’s statement with one ill purpose: to demean him. Very unprofessional, biased writing.”
The same could be said of the news stories published by the msm about Anwar and PR. The difference is they don’t possess the same level of journalistic integrity as TNG to publish a comment like yours.
No. My comments have been censored by pro opposition blogs from Malaysian insider and Malaysian today. Nutgraph too previously on occasions censored my comments or they publish my comments very very late. A number of times it was pending publication.
Pleaselah. All of the media practice censorship. The most hypocritical is Malaysian insider. They proclaimed in the freedom of speech but have not published my criticism against them many times. They believe in spinning to incite hatred and when I state the contrary they refused to publish.
Andrew I says
If your comments are so urgent, maybe you might like to contribute financially to the Nutgraph. They might then be able to hire more staff to cater to your need to express your frustrations a.s.a.p.
Again you see, you are being entertained. Freedom of speech is an ideal. Even in mature democracies, you won’t be fully entertained. Why don’t you try at any of the online British tabloid sites and see whether you will be censored or not?
Relax. Don’t take it too personally.
Islam is no doubt the official religion of Malaysia, but nowhere in the constitution is there a place for a ketuanan Melayu. All the consitution says is special privileges for Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, now collectively called bumiputera. It simply means Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak should be equal. If Malays claim supremacy, so should the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
john leong says
I think more people should watch the BBC series on the Second World War to see why the German army killed all those millions of Russian prisoners; why the Germans killed all those Jews in the gas chambers; why the Japanese army killed all those Chinese in China during the same war. The answer is that they treated the Russians and Chinese as no better than small stones and fleas and sub- humans so that killing them off required no qualms of conscience. Sorry to say that Malaysia is going down this road.
Dr Syed Alwi says
Malaysia is a Muslim country and by that I mean, (1) Malaysia is a Muslim-majority nation (2) Malaysia’s politics is Muslim dominated and (3) Islam is the official religion of Malaysia.
In view of that, the PM of Malaysia can specifically and legitimately address Muslim concerns. In Islam – we Muslims cannot say that other religions are on par with Islam as far as truth claims are concerned.
What you and TNG are pushing for is to deny that Malaysia is a Muslim country. But the vast majority of Malaysia’s Malay Muslims will NOT accept such an agenda.
I think that TNG had better be more sensitive towards Malay-Muslim views and aspirations. You cannot change the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country without hurting Malay-Muslim interests. Neither PAS nor PKR nor Umno nor any other Malay-Muslim will support your agenda.
JW Tan says
“Sensitivity”, in the context that you use, is merely another word for “self-censorship”. It’s a silly concept, and if you want to use it, it cuts both ways. How about Najib and Umno being more “sensitive” to my views and aspirations? They’ve not done that since I was born.
Anyway, Malaysia is for Malaysians, not for Malay-Muslims only. I want to change the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country, and if this ever happens, it will benefit Malay-Muslim interests, because they are Malaysians too.
Dr Syed Alwi says
Dear JW Tan,
You can go on dreaming about Malaysia not being a Muslim country. Just don’t hold your breath!
It is in the Malay-Muslim interest to retain Malaysia’s identity as a Muslim country.
JW Tan says
It’s in the Malay Malaysian chauvinist’s interest to retain Malaysia’s identity as a Muslim country. No one else’s. I reject the idea that a Malay-Muslim Singaporean’s interests in Malaysia outweigh any single Malaysian’s interests, whatever race they are.
So far, this is the status quo, and it’s killing the country. The future is much bleaker – Malaysia is poorer, less united, more oppressive, and even socially backward, for discriminating against its non-Muslim minorities. Some accommodation must be reached. It will take time, but if and when we get there, it will be much better for Malaysia, and its Muslims.
Capt Sudhir says
You really think that the desert dogma is the key to your spiritual enlightenment?
“It is in the Malay-Muslim interest to retain Malaysia’s identity as a Muslim country.” Or is it the interest of the Saud family?
The Saud Family is enriched when 60% of Malaysians contribute to their coffers in the Kingdom of Sands.
Why worry the oil will dry up when there will always be billions ready to be conned into contributing to their coffers?
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Capt Sudhir says
Truly you do not understand religion, for if you did you will see that a country cannot have a religion because a country is merely a political entity.
Geographically the earth is one. Nature has no boundaries nor has it any interest in what religion you are. Nature by nature is spiritual. So if at all this country has a religion it can only be spiritual not dogmatic. So what is that religion? It is whatever that it is. If you say Muslim it is so. If you say Hindu it so. If you say no religion it is so. So in the end what is it? That which you foolishly think is so.
For as long as your mind is not free, and owned by a dogma, you will remain blind. Set it free.
In other words remove that dogma and you will see All is ONE. Then you become a better person – the real purpose for your existence comes clear to you. Heaven becomes where you set your eyes. Paradise is here. Seek it inside. The world becomes peaceful. The country prospers. People are happy. Isn’t that what we all want?
Dr Syed Alwi says
Dear Capt Sudhir,
May I ask which Quranic verse or hadith supports your claim ? Or are you just another Islam Liberal follower who does not rely on Quran and hadith?
Bad Rabbit says
Why should he need to quote anything especially to you?
If that is what Capt Sudhir believes, that is what he believes […]
[Isn’t it] just a little grandiose [to say] that all Malays think this, all Muslims believe that? I mean really how do you know, that ALL Muslims believe this, or ALL Malays want that? Do you have any evidence for your claims? […]
Dear Capt, your novel views have indeed given me a new perspective of religion. As I ponder on your words, they give me a sense of peace and a sense of belonging and acceptance of one and all.
I have no doubt that you are one at peace, not only with yourself but with everyone you connect with. Pray the others will heed your words of wisdom and free themselves from all dogmas and achieve inner peace.
Andrew I says
So, it’s alright for non-Muslims to vote for PAS and PKR?
Dr Syed Alwi says
Dear Andrew I,
You can vote for whomsoever you like. But neither PKR nor PAS nor Umno will ever deny the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country. After all, PAS is out there to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state complete with syariah laws and hudud!
JW Tan says
I think the key point that you miss is that the PM of Malaysia loses the right to make a personal statement on religion and not to have people consider it in a political context the moment he became PM.
So, no, it’s not appropriate for the PM of Malaysia to make a statement on his personal religious beliefs, regardless of whether he is addressing a legitimate concern of Muslim voters. And I’d argue that given our constitution, the concern is not legitimate, even if by your version of Islam, it is. Our constitution trumps your religion.
Given the rising tide of religious discrimination in Malaysia, it’s perfectly reasonable for TNG to raise concerns. Lots of examples are cited in the article. I have some personal experience with such things too. It’s getting worse.
Bad Rabbit says
“But the vast majority of Malaysia’s Malay Muslims will NOT accept such an agenda.”
Please cite your evidence for this claim or acknowledge you just made that statement up. No-one here is claiming to speak on behalf of the vast majority of Malay Muslims (which is kind of a redundant phrase isn’t it? Aren’t all Malays by definition Muslims under Malaysian law?) except you, so please have the academic integrity to cite your source(s).
Dr Syed Alwi says
Dear bad rabbit and JW Tan,
Politics in South East Asia is not an academic exercise. You can shout as much as you like – but the Malaysian Malays will always want Malaysia to be a Muslim country.
To people like the both of you – well – you are free to stick to imaginations, dreams and academic exercises. In the meantime – the REALITY is that MALAYSIA WAS, IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A MUSLIM COUNTRY.
Good luck to your dreaming and academic exercises!
JW Tan says
I agree the reality now is that Malaysia is a Muslim country. I think this is wrong. I aspire to change it, so that in the future it will not be a Muslim country.
You can rail and rant all you wish. That doesn’t change the fact that you can’t state for sure that Malay Malaysians will always want Malaysia to be a Muslim country. It’s not even certain that Malay Malaysians will always be Muslim.
orang lama says
Who decides who is superior to whom? What are the criteria used for this assessment? It is just an opinion, forced down the throats of everybody else. What does a perfect religion do for its followers? Judging by what Utusan Melayu published regarding the Japanese tragedy, nothing great has rubbed off on these Islamic Malays (I am excluding non-Islamic Malays). This is another reason why we non-Muslims cannot except these “ketuanan” concepts, not just the way Islam is propagated.
The bottom line is, ISLAM IS THE OFFICIAL RELIGION OF MALAYSIA, and us Malays have put up with so many outrageous demand of other races. We have to secure our stronghold or else narrow-minded people like this writer will one day overwhelm the rights of the indigenous Malay. Talk about equality, pffft! […]
JW Tan says
Indigenous Malays should not have more rights than citizens of other races. In the sense that you believe that you have more rights or superior rights to other citizens, none of these should be protected.
orang lama says
Being an “official religion” does not mean all other religions must be treated like stepchildren. Only a backward community would do that. That’s the way the Malays treat the other races, too. They are unable to comprehend that others have a place in this country. Now they want the whole country for themselves! Hey, where were they when the Brits came? Nowhere to be seen. Now they want everything. It is in the culture and psyche of the people – they were pirates and they are still displaying the characteristics of pirates – just take what they fancy. Talking about the constitution – we started with a secular one. Now the Malays want to hijack it and turn it into a Muslim constitution – of course benefiting the Malays only. The Chinese fought the Brits, then the Japs. Now looks like they will fight the Malays. Sad, but very likely, looking at the way Perkasa is being supported by Umno.