Prof calls for RCI on race relations

Tajuddin-Rasdi-malaysiaPETALING JAYA: A university professor has urged the government to set up a royal commission of inquiry to find the root cause of racial tension in Malaysia.

Speaking to FMT, Tajuddin Rasdi of USCI said he feared that racial conflicts were escalating to a level that could be “disastrous”.

He said the government should not dismiss such conflicts as temporary problems. Incidents over recent years indicated that a storm was brewing, he added.

“I thought the Low Yat incident was a significant marker, but the latest marker involving a motorist in Johor Bahru is something we should be paying particular attention to,” he said.

Tajuddin was referring to the near-rioting outside the Low Yat Plaza in July 2015 after the theft of a phone and last Friday’s melee outside a surau in Johor Bahru’s Taman Austin Perdana.

In the Johor Bahru incident, two people in a car were confronted by an angry group of worshippers at the surau. One of the two was assaulted and the car was vandalised. The motorist, whose path was blocked by cars parked outside the surau, had honked continuously while the Friday congregational prayer was in progress.

Tajuddin said many people he had spoken to about the Friday incident agreed that it showed the Malays lacked sensitivity to the problems and feelings of others.

“Among the Malay Muslim community, if you disturb Islam, you get hit,” he said.

He said he would be concerned if the issue was not raised during the coming Friday sermon. “That will be another indication that we should be worried about.”

He quoted a hadith in which the Prophet was reported to have said that congregational prayers must be easy to perform and not be prolonged as there would be, among the worshippers, old people, young children and those with business to attend to.

“The Prophet raised the issue because he was concerned over social welfare and civic responsibilities,” he said.

Tajuddin also urged non-Muslims to practise tolerance and to take care not to disturb the peace of others.

“It is part of living together. We just have to tolerate one another.”

Tajuddin, who teaches Islamic architecture, called on local authorities to look at the parking problem around mosques and suraus.

He said some old mosques were built without taking traffic problems into account.

He said local councils could for a start, deploy traffic wardens outside mosques on Fridays. “The councils know there will be such jams. How come there are no traffic wardens to take care of this?

“A council may tell us the males will have to perform Friday prayers. But we also have female wardens. Women in Islam are not obligated to perform Friday prayers.”