What is Harapan’s Islamic agenda? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will
cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have
undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed
with reason and kindness, should conquer, then fascism must perish, and
those who have submitted to it will once again become people.” ― Vasily Grossman, ‘Life and Fate’
COMMENT | What does the Malay
ruling establishment and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim)
think about Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin’s comment that the loser of
the debate between Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and Indian
Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, “dihantar pulang ke India seperti yang
menjadi hasrat mereka”?
Well, I know for a fact that Zakir Naik does not want to be sent home
to India and Ramasamy is a citizen of this country, so what is the
establishment stand on the racist remarks of the Perlis mufti towards a
Malaysian citizen? Does this challenge our value system?
Also, who judges this stupid debate? How would we know who “won” the
debate? And why even talk about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE)?Wouldn’t it be easier for Asri to point to comments made by Ramasamy
about his religion (Islam) which could be deemed “extremist”? Would it
be easier to point to Ramasamy's long career and public record of his
comments to demonstrate that he is a hate monger? I mean that is what
people are accusing Zakir Naik of, right?
But that’s not all of it. Where is the outrage in the Malay/Muslim
establishment on the death threats and worse, threats legitimising the
murder of a Malaysian politician? If this happened before the election,
the opposition would have been up in arms. Indeed, we would have the
“true Muslim” members of Pakatan Harapan coming to the aid of their
comrade and talking about how unIslamic these types of threats were.
These days, it would seem when it comes to these types of
provocations, the ruling establishment is silent. Since Harapan took
over, we have had provocateurs at Kampung Manjoi, a prime minister hopeful telling us not to spook the Malays, a mufti telling a deputy chief minister of a state to leave the country if he loses a rigged debate and of course, a Malay politician threatened with death because of the fake news that she wants to destroy an Islamic institution.
We are supposed to believe that this is a normal situation? We are
supposed to not draw attention to this because the hard work of saving
Malaysia means we have to put up with this horse manure?
You know what I really cannot understand about this whole Zakir Naik tension? Okay, you put forward a legal argument as to why he cannot be
extradited. It is a poor argument and easily rebutted, but you put it
out there for whatever reason. But what people are forgetting that the
words of Zakir Naik and his interpretation of Islam are anathema to the
supposed ideals of Harapan. You could make the legal argument that he
has a right to be here, but what you cannot make is that his ideas are
accepted by the religious establishment in this country. Or does it?
The fact that the Harapan religious establishment and by this, I mean
the religious bureaucracy has not condemned his ideas, says a lot about
the religious imperatives of this new administration. The fact that the
religious bureaucracy did not come out and condemn the death threats
against the Sri Delima assemblyperson should tell you something about
how Islam is propagated in this country.
Where is the minister in charge of Islamic affairs in the Prime
Minister’s Department when it comes to these issues? That is right. He
is too busy telling the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
community to hide in the closet and not challenge our value system.
If this is our value system, where Zakir Naik roams about without
challenge, death threats in the name of Islam are made against a
politician goes unchallenged by the religious establishment and we are
constantly reminded not to spook the Malays, they should be challenged. I
did it with the Umno regime, I will definitely do it for a coalition I
urged people to vote for.
I have often been accused of being anti-Islam and anti-Malay. Nothing
is further from the truth. In fact, I have publicly disagreed with the
“true Muslim” meme propagated by the then opposition. I have written
that there should be a plurality of Islamic voices in this country, even
going so far as to state that any kind of perceived Islamic views
should not be silenced but rather open to rebuttal in the public
What I have always maintained is that the state interpretation of
Islam should be inclusive but reject any and all extremist statements or
actions that threaten the stability of the state and the security of
the citizens of Malaysia. I am on record of advocating that the beliefs
of people should not be the concern of the state – however they choose
to define it – and the state should not sanction behaviour deemed
Always remember the real targets
of these types of extremist provocation – “Do not make the mistake of
thinking that the main targets of these religious extremists were the
non-Malay community. No, the real targets of those extremists are the
Malay-Muslim community. What they are attempting to do is control the
narrative of Islam in this country. They are aided and abetted by the
political apparatus as demonstrated by the soft warning of the Perak MB
and the silence of the federal government, including the normally
boisterous non-Muslim politicians.”
Jakim director-general Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim claimed that his
department’s new approach – tolerance – was brought upon by a
conversation he had with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. But what
does this really mean? It seems to me - and maybe it does to you - that
all Jakim does is harass people who have “slipped” from the path. Have they ever attacked religious extremism which is a more of threat
to this country? Have they sanctioned hate speech? Have they warned
Muslims that there are external forces out there which are attempting to
subvert the democratic institutions of this country or enemies who
would destroy democracy from within? Instead, what they have done is
target Shia adherents, labelled dissenting Muslims as “liberal”,
selectively enforced their edicts, estranged the Malay community from
the non-Malay community, but most importantly, decried excessive laughter.
If you think that these are unimportant in the larger scheme of
things, then you are sorely mistaken. Islam and race are not mutually
exclusive in this country. What happens to Muslims eventually has a
direct effect on non-Muslims. Why hasn’t this administration made firm
commitments to resolve the issue of unilateral conversions? Why have
they not condemned hate speech against non-Muslims?
The reality of "do not spook the Malays" is because Harapan does not
have a firm Malay base. Statistics emerging from the last general
election reflects this. The solution is not to retreat to the old ways
of doing things but ensure that the Malay base you have grows. While
some Malays did not vote to change the Islamic system, reforming the
Islamic system - making it more about welfare and not about religious
enforcement - is the way how you change mindsets.
When the Malay community understands that these religious bodies are
there to ensure there is welfare in terms of access to education and
healthcare and not to enforce morality, then they will slowly understand
that there is more to religion than just dogma. For the Umno regime, it was taken for granted that this is the
tactics they engage in. However, in the new Harapan order, non-Muslims
have silenced themselves when it comes to holding their representatives
accountable. Encouraging a plurality of Islamic voices in this country
and the state bureaucracy rejecting Islamic extremism will create a
greater democracy for this country.
If we do not speak with one voice with this, we will always be at the
mercy of those who wish to subvert our democracy in favour of religious