Malaysiakini : “In order to be a part of the totalitarian mindset, it is
not necessary to wear a uniform or carry a club or a whip. It is only
necessary to wish for your own subjection, and to delight in the
subjection of others.” - Christopher Hitchens
COMMENT | Revoking
the operating rights of beer brewers Heineken Malaysia Bhd and
Carlsberg during the movement control order (MCO) period because of
instigation by religious extremists is another example of the toxic
religiosity that permeates this government.
I have used the quote
that opens this piece before. It clearly articulates the mindset of
religious extremists – of any religion – to control the polity,
especially religiously diverse ones. After all, what is the point of
religious supremacy, if you cannot demonstrate the superiority of your
in mind that demonstrating the superiority of your religion never
involves feats of intellectual prowess in a market place of ideas, but
rather the brute application of state-sanctioned force in the curtailing
of an individual or collective rights.
The whole point of
revoking the operating directive was not that it saves lives or
consistency of polices. I am sure the preventive and health security
measures of these places are far better than that of religious
gatherings, not just because of the profit motive, but rather to
demonstrate to the base that religious and racial prerogatives are
“championed” by political operatives who do not have any other policy
initiatives or policy successes to point to.
The question posed by
Bersatu Youth should clue us in on the futility of this “debate” -
"Thousands of halal businesses owned by the bumiputera have been
impacted by Covid-19 and the MCO, particularly for small and medium
The distinction between “halal” and “haram” and the
dog whistle of race (bumiputera-owned) makes it impossible to rationally
discuss this issue. However, that is the point. When it comes to toxic
religiosity, rationality has no place in the discussion.
Bersatu Youth chief also posed this question - "Does the government
consider beer and alcoholic drinks, which are clearly haram (forbidden),
essential or critical?"
Whether you consider alcohol an
essential item is not the point. When something is deemed “haram” on
religious grounds, any discussion, if such an item is essential, becomes
moot. Ab initio the discussion on the “essentialness” cannot
take place because the item is already considered “haram” by certain
folks. Hence, any objective discussion is supplanted by religious
discourse and those objecting to religious interference.
Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is based on racial and religious
supremacy. The problem here is that there are some in the government who
believe commercial and economic interests would taper whatever toxic
religiosity which could derail the gravy train, not to mention economic
stability. P Gunasegaram has been right in making out the case from an economic stance.
communications director Khalid Samad attempted to work within the
religious discourse by pointing out that Caliph Umar said to tax those
who sold these supposedly “haram” items, not realising that he is making
an economic argument instead of a religious one.
While I am
sympathetic to Khalid’s stance, the need to shoehorn economic and social
realities into religious dogma is like fighting with one hand tied
behind your back. Fascistic elements within any religion do not give two
hoots about the moderating influences, historical or otherwise, about
their religion. All they care about is using the state to force others
to submit to their dogma.
What PN failed to grasp is the reality
of working with people who would take advantage of the situation to
demonstrate how weak the Muhyiddin regime is. There is a lot more going
on here than just revoking the operating licence during the MCO.
question posed - "Why was an exemption given to Heineken's beer factory
when it is a haram business? Is it because the company has links to
people with interest?” What would have been beneficial is if Bersatu
Youth had named those people with interest and we could check if they
were in any way connected to Bersatu through other commercial ventures.
in the subjugation of others is paramount in this display of brute
force. Think about what PAS' Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (below) said: "What value is left for a Muslim who prays to God while they allow alcohol to flow freely when they could stop it?"
“value” is derived in shoving your belief systems onto others.
Non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-dominated countries are told to be
followers. Here is PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang’s variation of this theme
- “Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam
must be followers (pak turut).”
Non-Muslims must be
"followers". Followers who do not believe. Followers who are forced to
submit. Followers who can never lead because they are not Muslims.
Followers who have to submit to the religious observances of Muslims,
even though they have their own religious beliefs which are not observed
by Muslims, but in some cases restricted because they offend Muslims.
Muslims claim that people don’t understand Islam. Whenever someone
claims that people do not understand their religion, it most often means
that their religion has a lot to answer for. All religions have
commonalities. Those positive commonalities make it possible for people
of diverse religious faiths to play well with others. Call it evolutionary or spiritual but the result is the same, the receding of
religious dogma and the acceptance of plurality of thought.
when people insist on pontificating about their faith or when the state
defines religion, that is when the trouble starts. That is when people
start claiming that their faith is misunderstood or that God made them
the person to lead the faithful or there is some divine plan for all of
us, even those who do not want to be subjected to any plan from up
This last part is made worse by the fact that those mortals
who claim to understand God’s plan make up for the worst administrators
on earth, not to mention the most bigoted, petty and hypocritical
messengers that any divine being would be unlucky to have.
like these always take advantage to pursue their agendas when the
country is in crisis. As far as I am concerned, this is treacherous, but
considering the nature of our government, it is to be expected.