Umno needs to control the Muslim mind and if Umno loses that control, it has lost everything.
A son who is given free rein with the family car, might not return until he has run out of money or petrol, or both. A daughter given the go-ahead to go out partying, might not be seen for days. A house where the maid has unlimited time-off, might look messy. The same “runaway” factor holds true for the Malay intellect.
Umno is aware that the Malay mind is receptive to new ideas and concepts, and if unfettered, could be uncontrollable. When a tiny seed is planted in the Malay mind and with the right conditions, is nurtured into a vigorous, healthy plant, then that person is capable of greatness and not mediocrity.
With the Malay mind freed, all of Malaysia would benefit, and Umno become irrelevant. That is what Umno politicians fear most. Malays do not need Umno but Umno cannot exist without the Malays.
The reality is that for the past 55 years, Umno has used the 4 “Rs” – race, royalty, religion and the rural divide – to control the Malay mind and manipulate the other races into doing its (Umno’s) bidding.
How many Malays have dared question the ethics of the New Economic Policy (NEP)? With benefits in housing, education and investment, Umno would not expect many Malays to complain.
Both rich and poor Malays are entitled to the same benefits but would the average Malay moan about this disparity? Does it bother him that other Bumiputeras are not entitled to the same privileges? He also turns a blind eye when programmes to aid non-Malay Malaysians are neglected.
Would anyone dare question the morality, finances and lifestyle of the VVIPs? Human rights activist Irene Fernandez, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, and former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, have faced trumped-up charges for sedition.
Engineer Chan Hon Keong was jailed for one year and fined RM50,000. Quantity surveyor Ahmad Abd Jalil was made the latest example of the intolerance of criticism of VVIPs.
When the people in the rural areas are deprived of knowledge and basic amenities, it is easy for the government to manipulate them. Pliable, desperate communities fall for the usual inducements like money, gifts and free meals. Force is used without hesitation when the people resist, such as the violent tactics used against the indigenous peoples of Sarawak who have been evicted from their lands.
Last week, opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar entered a political minefield when she said that Malays should not be compelled to adopt a particular religion. She was quoting from the Quran, the verse in Surah al-Baqarah. Umno rebuked her for encouraging Muslims to be apostates.
Despite what Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution says, that every Malaysian has the right to practise his religion, Umno claims otherwise.
Nurul was right
So, if Malays are not allowed freedom of worship, then one should ask, “why not?” Are Malays not Malaysians too? If Malays are not allowed to exercise their full rights under the constitution, then they are just as victimised as the Chinese and Indians whom the Ketuanan Melayu call “pendatang”.
Some people claim that Nurul should not have allowed herself to be made an easy target by Umno and the Umno media. Even former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused her of being influenced by the west.
As expected, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has made no comment, as is his wont whenever controversial topics arise. He, like other Umno Muslims, does not care one jot for the religion, he is just desperate to control the rakyat.
A few Malaysians are so cowed by Umno that they have warned non-Muslims not to participate in the discussion, or even post feedback, because “these issues of religion should not concern us”.
Nurul was right to bring this issue up. Malaysia belongs to the rakyat, not Umno. All of you – both Malay and non-Malay, both Muslim and non-Muslim – have a say in this issue. If you refrain from making your feelings clear and if you do not make your opinions heard, Umno will get stronger.
Your silence is what gives Umno confidence to trample all over you. Umno feeds off weak and insecure people. Sensitive issues must be aired and discussed rationally. Umno should not be allowed to use these issues to divide us, or for scare-mongering.
When the Malay, ten-pin bowler rapist was freed because he had raped a young Malay girl, there was a public outcry. There were some Malays who had voiced their disgust, but they were not vocal in their defence of the Penan girls, whose rapes have been brushed under the carpet. Are Malay victims the only ones who matter? Do Malays only defend injustices perpetrated on Malays?
If your faith is strong, why should you flounder like a frog which jumps from party to party?
Religion is a private matter and your practice of that religion is your business; but the many Muslims who wear religion on their sleeves, have hearts which are devoid of the true meaning and spirit of Islam. They are hypocrites.
Few people will remember “Bunny” Suffian, the English wife of the Lord President of the Judiciary, Mohamed Suffian Hashim, who won a Queen’s scholarship to read law at Cambridge. Suffian had married Bunny in England.
Bunny was a life-long Christian and she wanted to be cremated as a Christian. When she died in 1997, Suffian was prevented from granting her last wish, because before he could bring her body for the final service at the Cheras crematorium, religious officials snatched Bunny’s body from the morgue, and rushed it for a Muslim burial in Kuala Kangsar.
Suffian was crushed by the treachery of his brother, the Attorney-General at the time, and the three witnesses who allegedly lied that Bunny had converted to Islam.
Suffian, the son of a kadi, placed more importance on the teachings and spirit of Islam rather than its rituals. He once referred to Mahathir as “Papa Doc”, and accused Mahathir of destroying our once well-regarded judiciary and for taking away its independence. The journalist MGG Pillai wrote that Suffian was disappointed that “what took generations to build could be destroyed in a day and would take years to rebuild”.
Umno’s version of Islam, as it is practised in this country, is abominable. Corruption, injustice and hypocrisy are accepted. Umno needs to control the Muslim mind and if Umno loses that control, it has lost everything.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.