If Najib wants to give us a real Raya present, then let us have a referendum on hudud and settle the issue once and for all.
Of all the ministers, whom we choose to mock, the Minister of Education, Muhyiddin Yassin, must be in the top 10.
On Aug 15, Bernama reported that Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had received visitors from abroad who praised Malaysia for being a “special and much admired Muslim country” and “the best example of a progressive Muslim nation”. These representatives had also wanted to use Malaysia as a template to further improve their own nations.
As ordinary Malaysians, we would have shared in Muhyiddin’s ebullience – until we read that the views had been expressed by people from Afghanistan, Palestine and Somalia.
Muhyiddin talked about Muslim unity and compared the situation in Syria with Malaysia, where Malaysians, he said, lived in peaceful harmony because of its responsible leaders.
He said, “…What is important is that Islamic unity must be placed at the pinnacle of our effort to develop the nation.”
Did the DPM not have visitors from more progressive Muslim nations, such as Indonesia or Turkey, and would their views have been the same as those of the conflict-ridden and war-torn nations?
One wonders what Muhyiddin’s guests would have thought about the desperate attempts by Umno to “unite” the Malays using, race, religion and the sultans. In the latest fiasco, the May 13 film – “Tanda Putera” – is used to incite hatred of the Chinese, and frighten the Malays.
Would the foreigners be impressed with our corrupt Muslim leaders? Would they admire the ingenious methods used to cling onto power? Would they marvel at the symbiotic relationship of Umno and the VVIPs used to retain control?
Some of these nations got rid of their own VVIPs decades ago to become republics. What is their impression of an Education Minister, who appears to condone the actions of racist teachers? Would they have praise for the way Malaysia treats its Muslim women, who are in contact with beer and books?
Minister’s tasteless joke
Another minister who attracts an equal amount of opprobrium is Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. He told an online news portal that fighting crime has never been considered a priority in the 55 years of Malaysian independence. He hinted that society was partly to blame for rising levels of crime.
In May 2010, Hishammuddin met 100 students at the Malaysian Students Department in London, and said that idle gossip fuelled the perception of a much higher level of street crimes, than in reality.
He said, “Most victims are women. What do women do? They go to the hairdressers… they chit-chat and suddenly it is everywhere and cause people to fear.”(sic.)
His tasteless and sexist joke backfired. Hishammuddin seems oblivious to the concerns of the public – men who mysteriously fell off buildings, people who had “sudden death” syndrome during their time in the police lock-up and teenagers who died after being shot by policemen.
If Hishammuddin had taken his duties seriously and improved morale in the police, enhanced the standards of policing and increased public confidence in the police, we would not be demanding his removal now. Instead, he made it a priority to hound opposition leaders and people who attend “democracy marches”.
It’s not just ministers who are unproductive. The Perkasa chief, Ibrahim Ali, warned the DAP chairman Karpal Singh to respect the Muslims’ right to hudud. He claimed that the majority of Malaysians were Muslim and that the majority wins, in a democracy.
“If the majority want hudud, he [Karpal] cannot oppose it… hudud is the fundamental right of Muslims.”
Ibrahim described the people who opposed hudud as “stepping on the heads of Muslims”. He lumped “liberal Muslims” in this group and called them irresponsible.
“When other races insult Islam, they [the liberal Muslims] don’t speak out against it. Why didn’t they say something when pig heads were hurled into a mosque?…But when paint is splashed onto a church, they make a lot of noise…”
This is where Ibrahim is wrong. His listening skills are selective – like the switching on or off, of a hearing aid. His memory also seems somewhat selective. Has he forgotten that the pig heads were allegedly thrown into the mosques by Muslim fundamentalists who were fomenting unrest?
A few liberal Muslims have been brave enough to condemn attacks against people of other faiths. The others are petrified about saying anything in public because the thugs, who are controlled by Umno, are not people whom one can easily reason. Umno intimidates, rather than impresses with knowledge. Umno attacks rather than articulates with facts.
With the 13th general election approaching, Umno is in trouble. Scandals, exposé, corruption and incompetence are making headline news, in the alternative media, on a daily basis.
Instead of acting on the various tip-offs about corruption and abuse at the highest levels of government, Umno wants to make scapegoats out of the whistle-blowers and those who expose the scandals.
One such person Umno targeted is Rafizi Ramli. His arrest is to act as a deterrent. No more. No less. His arrest is intended to scare others who have damaging information about our corrupt leaders.
That is why hudud is a non-issue. It is merely a distraction, like the many other distractions which are thrown in the public arena to confuse us, and draw attention away from scandals, in the run-up to the general election.
Both the non-Muslims and the majority of Muslims, not just the liberal ones, oppose hudud. We wouldn’t want a Cabinet staffed with ministers who have only one hand and foot each.
If Najib wants to give us a real Raya present, then let us have a referendum on hudud and settle the issue once and for all. The hudud distraction seems to resurface whenever Umno is in serious trouble.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.