The situtaion in Malaysia has returned to 'normal'. Scare tactics, involving race and religion has once again reared its ugly head.
For a week, the usual bashing of the Church and the Opposition coalition was suspended, as the whole world mourned the victims of MH17. Now that the remains of the MH17 victims are in the process of being repatriated, troublemakers have resumed the fomenting of dissent and racial strife in Malaysia.
The situation in Malaysia has returned to “normal”. Scare tactics, involving race and religion, are used to distract the rakyat from important matters like rising poverty, increased crime and the economic and financial health of Malaysia. The first shot, to endanger national security was fired by the former Chief Justice (CJ) Abdul Hamid Mohamad.
At a buka puasa event last Monday, Hamid warned that Islam was under threat in DAP led Penang. He warned that the threat to Islam would spread throughout Malaysia.
The timing for Hamid’s announcement is critical. He waited until the world’s interest in MH17 had died down, so he could achieve maximum impact among the rakyat, especially the Malay Muslims.
His main reason for waiting is simple. He is using the tactics that were employed to destabilise Selangor, because both Penang and Selangor are successful at encouraging industry and investment.
Had Hamid made his remarks when the world was angry with the perpetrators who shot down MH17, no one would have taken any notice of him. He might even have been blasted for his ill timed remarks and poor judgement.
Umno-Baru, and the nationalist extremists, know that most Malaysians are united all the time, not just when a national tragedy strikes. It is this unity which threatens the existence of the race based and extremist parties.
In recent years, the Opposition coalition has managed to gain strong support among the electorate. The BN coalition feels that its dominance and security is under the most severe threat, since Merdeka.
Only the naïve would need an explanation for the heightened racial and religious tension, or the many people who have been charged with sedition, or for criticising the royalty. Racial and religious extremists cause havoc in society. Few if any people in authority dare confront them or put a stop to their provocations.
Who should we blame for this prolonged assault on Malaysian unity? Some people might blame the rakyat, for continually voting Umno-Baru at every general election. Others will blame the silent, moderate Muslims for not speaking out against the extremist Muslims.
Let us not forget another group, to whom we could apportion blame. The judges. Hamid’s former colleagues, or the current crop of judges.
Hamid alleged that a former Penang mufti complained about the difficulty of gaining funding for Islamic activities, because the other religions demanded their fair share of funding. The former CJ warned that the influence of Islam would be diluted throughout the country, and so threaten the special position of Islam, in Malaysia.
Why would a judge depend on anecdotal evidence to stir-up tensions? Why did he not advise the mufti who spoke to him, to lodge a complaint with the Chief Minister of Penang? The judiciary does not have a good reputation, and the former judge’s remarks add to our disgust.
Hamid also alleged that Islamic scholars were blind to the activities of the Catholic Church, because the church had been unsuccessful in its efforts to convert Malays to Christianity over the past five centuries.
Why does Hamid ignore the coercion, money tactics and other incentives used to force Orang Asli on to becoming Muslims? Why did he not mention the forced conversion of children, in Sarawak and Orang Asli schools in the interior?
Hamid claimed that Malays were divided because they had “changed” on becoming affluent. He said that Malay voters were being manipulated to criticise Islam, attack the royalty and insult the Malay leaders, and that they were treated like a “minority” within the nation.
Hamid said, “Show me a country which gives rights to the minority?…Show me any country which allows the formation of vernacular schools and also finance it…” (sic)
Hamid is aware that Malaysia protects the minority, except that the minority are the Umno-Baruputra élite and members of the royalty. The NEP does not benefit the ordinary Malays. Multimillion ringgit contracts go to members of Umno-Baruputra and the royalty, in closed bids.
If the government were to improve the standard of teaching in our national schools, instil discipline and introduce subjects like Mandarin and Tamil, fewer parents would enrol their children in the vernacular schools.
Hamid forgets that most bumiputeras, from Sabah and Sarawak, are not Muslims. The ban on the word Allah denies these non-Muslim bumiputeras their right to religious freedom, granted by the Constitution.
Hamid ignores the fact that the threat to Muslims does not come from the non-Muslims. The greatest threat to Muslims is from other Muslims. This is obvious in Syria and Iraq, but is also true in Malaysia.
Two days after he made his remarks, retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram alleged that Hamid had exhibited racial prejudice in a Court of Appeal case, in 1996.
Sri Ram claimed (in another online newspaper) that in the case of a bank suing two business partners, a Malay and an Indian, who were the guarantors for a loan, Hamid, had accepted the claim, made by the Malay defendant, that “a Muslim would not tell lies”.
If Hamid’s assertion that a Muslim does not tell lies is true, there would be no need for syariah courts or hudud. The Muslim can just say, “I didn’t do it!”
Has Sri Ram only just learned of this case? If he knew in 1996, why did he not raise his concerns, then? Why did the other judges kept quiet?
Malaysians must ask why our judges are afraid to speak up and wait two decades to reveal this malpractice and bias. Is it any wonder that the nation is in a mess, when “defenders of justice” are afraid to reveal an injustice until it is too late? Perhaps, the answer is that Malaysians only look after their self-interests.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist