Anwar did not bring about a liberal or secular apocalypse - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, April 13, 2020
Malaysiakini : “Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.”- Bertrand Russell
| Anwar Ibrahim’s definition of what it means to be “liberal” is the
kind of strategy that has effectively proven to be futile against the
Malay establishment. I have no idea why people are outraged over Abdul
Hadi Awang’s letter to Islamic potentates in the Middle East.
claiming that Anwar and Harapan are liberals, propped up by Zionist and
Freemasons, is exactly the kind of mainstream propaganda in this
country that the Malay establishments – including Malay political
operatives from Pakatan Harapan – have pedalled for decades. Amanah, for
instance, wondered if Malaysia was having an "affair" with Israel.
in mind that this “liberal” allegation against Anwar was used just two
months ago by the former prime minister – one-time nemesis turned ally –
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as reported in Berita Harian: “Anwar
keluar-keluar (Umno), dia buat parti liberal. Dia nak dapat sokongan
daripada DAP, maka dia ajak DAP masuk, PAS masuk. Falsafah dia liberal,”
– in which the former Harapan prime minister added that this was why
the majority of Malays rejected Anwar and why he (Mahathir) was needed
to court the Malay vote.
Anwar plays into this strategy by
implying that he cannot accept liberals “who reject faith and morality
and 'conservatives' who condone corruption", which is really a dumb
thing to say because rejecting religious dogma and stealing money from
the rakyat is not the same thing. It is not even in the same league.
Besides, what has Dr Zakir Naik (above),
who was found to be inspiring by Harapan’s former religious czar
Mujahid Yusof Rawa, been telling the Muslims in Malaysia? That is right,
he keeps telling Muslims in Malaysia that it better to be ruled by
corrupt Muslims leaders than by honest “kaffirs”. Hence this idea that
rejecting corruption is some sort of Islamic benchmark in mainstream
Malay/Muslim society is complete bunkum.
Hadi signalling out
Anwar’s so-called liberalism is not something new. As I said, it is
mainstream establishment propaganda. Way back in 2014, when PAS was
going through its turmoils because of the “liberal” Anwar supporting a
faction in PAS, establishment pundits were cheerleading for a pact of
some kind between PAS and Umno for the benefit of Muslims in Malaysia.
Mohd Ayop Abd Razid, an analyst at the Information Department, Communications and Multimedia Ministry, dissected
the convulsions in PAS using the usual talking points of Malay
political operatives being “puppets” to the DAP, the coming secularism
if the opposition succeeds and of course the problems of the pro-Anwar
faction attempting a synthesis of liberal ideas and Islamic dogma – “Anwar gemar mensintesiskan Islam dengan pemikiran liberal.”
is a correct description of Anwar’s and his allies rhetoric. The
reality is that the propaganda and fears of the Islamists and agents of
the fascist state about Harapan coming into power were exposed for the
delusion they were. Harapan neither intended nor carried out a liberal
or secular agenda.
Instead, those “liberal” heroes of before the
election have turned into the religious apparatchiks of the state. While
before the election, “liberal” Malay political operatives were standing
proudly by their non-Malay counterparts – please keep in mind that
non-Malays are not by default “liberal”, but since nobody really knows
how to define them, the term I will just use is the propagandist
definition used by the mainstream – these same politicians kicked
whatever secular and egalitarian values to the curb along with those who
assumed that this was a "New Malaysia".
fact for all the propaganda by Umno and PAS of a secular or liberal
apocalypse after Harapan's historic win, what happened was that Harapan
turned on its liberal allies, specifically the Malay liberals who were
always receiving the brunt of state-sanctioned attacks. Well-known
political personalities – much admired before the election – from Rafizi
Ramli (photo, above) to Mujahid, were talking about “ultra-liberals” and making false equivalencies between religious extremists and puak “liberal”.
Umno was in power, my Malay-speaking activist friends were always
worried that the state labelled them as deviant and that meant they were
liberal. As one young activist said (in Malay, no less), how could he
be liberal when he couldn't even speak English that well.
far-right does not fear “moderation.” What they fear is going up against
progressive policies because they have worked in the past.Do not
get me wrong. I feel bad for Anwar and I do not normally feel bad for
politicians. Mahathir and the Malay political establishment really did a
number on Anwar. He needed to be punished and his sodomy charges, which
in reality are “religious” charges, were used to diminish his political
cache among the majority Malay community.
See how the Malay establishment embraces the treacherous Azmin Ali (photo, below)
and his sexual allegations and see how cretins continue to demonise
Anwar for his alleged scandals. So, Anwar has to attempt to play this
synthesis game by attempting to define liberalism and secularism in
religious terms. He also has to show his racial and religious bona
fides, which found perfect expression in his "don't spook, the Malays"
make the mistake in thinking that this synthesis tactic works. It does
not. Two years ago Ronnie Ooi (who also contributes to Malaysiakini) in an open letter to Anwar said that Anwar has to answer this simple question - “Is a secular Malaysia the only way to save Malaysia?”
believes that “The big mistake made by Malaysian secularists is that
they think not secular means only Islamic.” He writes - “ I have argued
that the fault line between the Islamism of the PKR, Amanah and Bersatu
and the secularism of the DAP is only over the word secular, ie only an
argument over terminology and not an argument over substance.”
of course, does not conform to reality. The reality is that any form of
secular agenda was not on the table. However we define secularism and
quibble over its usage, the substance – separation between mosque and
state – was never really a part of Harapan’s agenda. You can see this
post-election rejection of a slew of egalitarian policies and the
strengthening of the religious bureaucracy.
Nobody is asking Harapan Muslim political operatives to thump their chest, rip their jubah off
and shriek that they are “secular” or “liberal”. Just do not engage in
an "Islamic" agenda which is detrimental to democracy and institutional
independence. Harapan's religious czar was busy embroiling himself and
his ministry in all manner of religious chicanery and busy demonising
folks who, before the elections, threw their support behind Harapan.
the way, Ooi makes the mistake of basing his arguments on ideas by the
then darling of Harapan – the mufti of Perlis: “But the Perlis mufti has
pointed out that the majority of Muslims (Islamists) are rational and
moderate and Islam 'respects the rights of other races and religions'.
So, the religion itself does not preclude an enlightened and democratic
state. It all depends on whether it is the narrow-minded or the rational
and moderate Muslims who are in power.”
This is a common mistake
made by many Harapan partisans and demonstrative of the incompatibility
of mainstream Islamic dogma and secular ideas. Not to mention the need
for non-Muslims to grab any idea from Muslim political operatives that
conforms to their bias or latches on to personalities who they think are
shields against other virulent religious personalities.
Anwar, Ooi believed that a synthesis of ideas was possible. It is not.
The irony is that you do not have to abandon your faith to believe and
advocate for a secular state.
This is what religious extremists
fear the most and this is why they understand that liberal Muslims need
to be dealt with severely.