Those who believe they are saving Indira Gandhi's daughter - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, February 25, 2019
Malaysiakini : “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not
that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not
what they say about their cause, but what they say about their
opponents.”- Robert F Kennedy
| The disappearance of Pastor Koh and the kidnapping of Indira Gandhi’s
daughter are manifestations of what is wrong with this country. I
believe religious extremism is the existential threat facing our
However, I have focused my attention on personalities,
rather than acknowledge the fundamental divide among the people in this
country. There is something dark bubbling beneath the surface. When I asked why the government is not interested in finding Indira’s daughter, I referenced a young friend in the state security apparatus - "Siapa nak (who will) believe that our boys cannot find this orang bodoh (idiot), tuan?” The police officer who said this may be young, but he has field experience in the Anti-Narcotics Division.
the anti-ICERD rally, I was exposed to the other side of the Malaysian
story, specifically the Indira Gandhi narrative. It was an education for
me, because while many people welcomed me into their discussion, what I
discovered was that for many people, rational discussion has no room in
While rational people sympathise with Indira,
there are many people out there who despise her. Despise her so-called
“victimhood”. Despise the fact that she tenaciously goes against the
system, which allows her to live in this country.
on social media, you will discover that while most non-Malays view this
kidnapping as a transgression against a mother, there are many Muslims
who have no sympathy for Indira. They believe that her young daughter
was saved from an idol-worshipping culture and from her race, which they
define in the most racist of stereotypes.
my attention has been focused on the efforts of the government – or
lack thereof – to find this kidnapped child, the reality is there are
many Muslims in this country who do not view this as a kidnapping case.
I make the mistake of talking about Islamic extremism in the abstract,
talking about how political operatives make use of religion or how they
do not want to change the narrative. My young Muslim friends remind me
of the reality that there are many Muslims who are comfortable with the
mainstream narrative and not merely because of the entitlement it
brings. They are secure in the knowledge that their religion is the only
These are not stereotypical religious people. These are
educated people, some even Western-educated, who view Indira as some
sort of racial and religious provocateur whose intent is to tarnish
their religion by going against the rights of her husband. We see
this kind of thinking in the mainstream “Islamic” think tanks who have
been opposed to any kind of “just” resolution in cases like Indira
because they view any kind of (secular) interference in their religion
as a sign that Islam is under attack. So the tendency for people like me
is to put a target on them, without realising that their audience is
perhaps the greater danger.
We are not talking about racists or
bigoted comments online. Indira gets that from deranged partisan cretins
who view her and her case as inconsequential in the larger scheme of
things, and that she is a constant reminder of how Harapan is failing.
No, what I am talking about are the people who would support her
ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah because they believe it is their
Kidnapper has 'a support system'
believe if the state security apparatus wanted to find Indira’s
daughter, they could. I believe they have no interest in finding her. I
also believe this kidnapper has a support system which helps him evade
are so many ways Muhammad Riduan Abdullah could evade the law and it
does not have to include the complicity of the state security apparatus,
although I suspect they are complicit. What people fail to understand
is that the religious bureaucracy is a system of its own, with
tributaries that riddle the country.
It would not surprise me, if
there are enablers, who are average citizens, conspiring to keep this
child within Islam. I do not think these people consider Riduan as some
sort of religious martyr, but rather they believe that Indira’s daughter
belongs to them and their faith. It pains me to say this, but Indira's
daughter probably has been indoctrinated to believe the narrative of her
captors instead of her mother.
I get that all this is politically
incorrect to say. My mistake has been to focus on the obvious targets. I
forget that extreme religious polemics is not necessarily propaganda to
some people, but dogma. I forget that while some people can empathise
with the anguish of Indira, there are many who think that her child has
been saved and it is the people who support Indira who are the
All of this is part of the complex web of bigotry
and religious extremism that we are told is the fringe, but in reality,
is part of the mainstream of Malay society. You think that PAS is
tarnishing Islam? What about people who believe that Indira’s daughter
belongs to the Islamic faith? What about a system which has not
discovered the whereabouts of a kidnapped child because the child is a
Muslim? What about politicians who claim that Islam is a moderate
religion, but are quiet when it comes to the case of Indira?
is worse, a state security apparatus which could not be bothered to find
this kidnapped child, or the possibility that this kidnapped child is
living in a community which views her kidnapping as saving her from her
mother, her culture and her race, and have indoctrinated her?