In his latest blog message to Malaysians, Zaid Ibrahim has written of the coming meeting between the Group of 25 and the Prime Minister. According to him there is one message that they should pass on to the Prime Minister. The message is as follows:
The Prime Minister must withdraw his earlier statement that Malaysia
is an Islamic state. He must affirm that Malaysia is a democracy, the kind
of democracy his father helped to establish at our independence. He must
let our judges know the importance and sanctity of the Federal Constitution.
He must affirm his belief in the kind of democracy that helped Singapore,
Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia overcome many years of poverty and
mediocrity to become the dynamic countries they are today.
This is not only a message that the Group alone should be making. It is one that all Malaysians should make to leaders of all the political parties – UMNO, BN, PAS, DAP, Pakatan, etc. with no exception what so ever.
This message has greater urgency in light of the terrible massacre in Paris.
Politcal Islam and the Death of Democracy
It is shocking and unbelievable that a set of cartoons on Islam can trigger such a horrific response. Anyone who has been to Europe or the United States and read their papers or been to their theatres knows that poking fun, insulting and sometimes defaming subjects or people that are in the public eye goes on all the time. This is an important part of the freedom of expression. It is integral to Western civilization and democracy. It is a system which is not only subscribed to by western nations but also by the non-West countries that want to follow the western model of progress. No society that wants to call itself modern or civilized will sanction the killing of journalists or cartoonists just because they are being disrespectful.
Here in Malaysia, we have been trying to establish a democracy since 1957. The biggest enemy to the democratic system and all its associated freedoms is racism and the Islamic state movement. Much has been written against ketuanan Melayu and how it has been used by UMNO to establish authoritarian rule over the country. But just as bad if not a worse enemy of our democratic system is the Islamic state. And it has been making its way in the country slowly but surely.
Islamic State Status
In 2002, at a special muzkarah, a government spokesman announced that “Malaysia has fulfilled the requirements of a Islamic state”. The BN government then circulated a booklet in Malay published by the Ministry of Information that argued that Malaysia had met all the conditions for an Islamic State. The booklet cited the Hadith jurists Abu Yaala of the Hanbali schoool and al-Mawardi from the Shafi’i school defining the conditions for an Islamic State.
On the basis of that booklet, Prime Minister Mahathir and his deputy, Abdullah Badawi, affirmed that Malaysia had indeed attained the status of an Islamic State. One would have thought that would be the end of it. But no.
Since then, Dr. Mahathir initially, and Dollah Badawi later “nurtured the religious freaks, gave them positions, spent vast amounts of taxpayers money on them and basically incubated the type of religious cancers that now permeate our nation and which still have a good chance of destroying us all.”
Those earlier words are strong words but they are not my words. They come from one of Mahathir’s strongest supporters who apart from his pro-Mahathir aberration, is one of the most lucid political commentators in the country as well as being a rational Muslim – Syed Akhbar Ali.
Hudud Law in Kelantan
Pas is now trying to introduce hudud law in Kelantan. And it is likely to get support from UMNO state assembly members for this move. This move, if successful, will mark the beginning of the end of our secular based democracy in Malaysia.
When that happens, the blame can be laid squarely on all the Prime Ministers of the country as well as the lower rung Malay Muslim leaders. Prime Minister Najib still has time to avert that disaster but only if all Malaysians – and not just the group of 25 – wake up and fight the Islamic state.
* All Malaysians should note that according to Shariah law based on al-Mawardi’s text, dhimmis (non-Muslims) are denied civil, political and legal equal rights and are subjected to extra taxes. It also restricts religious activities of non-Muslims; excludes them from certain occupations; and confines women to inferior and subordinate positions.