‘We’re like Taliban country, but our leaders wear expensive suits’


PETALING JAYA: While many would see the adage “treating others as one would like to be treated” as the best way to achieve fairness and justice, some leaders in Malaysia don’t seem to think that way, says Zaid Ibrahim.

The former defacto law minister believes that some Malaysian Muslim leaders, political or religious, define fairness and justice as the way that best suit their interests alone.

“Their absolute control of political power has enabled them to distort the meaning of being fair and just. To them, fair and just are no longer an ethical principle that stands on its own.

“It’s only relevant and applicable if they so decide. Usually, if they disagree with you, with what you say or what you do, they will say it is against Islam.

“They play God every day. They seem to know everything that needs to be known about sins and punishment, and they probably know how God would behave.”

This practice is what Zaid said he labelled as “religious bigotry”, which has become the country’s national ideology.

He was speaking at the third annual Day of Solidarity talk yesterday, themed “Pilgrimage Towards Justice and Peace”. It was organised by the Malaysian Council of Churches and the Conference of Religious Major Superiors (Roman Catholic Church).

Also present were social activist Marina Mahathir and lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, who is president of the national human rights society, Hakam.

Zaid, who this year became DAP’s latest high profile member, claimed that a high number of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, have played up religious issues to divide the public.

Hence, these leaders ignore the positive sides of humanity, emphasising instead on issues of sin and punishment, he said.

“They don’t care that the Muslims are the poorest lot in the country, or that the Muslims are left far behind the others. They just want to dominate.

“Today, we are like a Taliban country, except our leaders wear expensive suits.”

He added the fact that Muslims being the majority in the country, or that Islam already has a special position, is not enough to comfort these leaders.

“So if you think religious bigotry and extremism will destroy this country, you must act now.

“I still think Malaysia can be saved, but you must not have too much fear. This is the year of the election, so you have to play your part.

“You just have to help the good people, and finish off the bad ones.”