PETALING JAYA: Chandra Muzaffar has criticised the home ministry’s explanation for its ban on a book published by a group of prominent Malays, dismissing the claim that its contents undermine national security and stability.
In a statement released by the home ministry on Monday, its secretary-general Alwi Ibrahim said G25’s book titled, “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”, contained elements promoting liberalism and pluralism which are contrary to Islam’s Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Sunni) teachings.
But Chandra, who is a contributor to the book, said Alwi had failed to explain which parts of it promoted liberalism and pluralism in a manner which threatened public interests.
“Besides, Alwi didn’t explain why liberalism is a threat to the nation.
“Let us not forget that the fourth goal of the Rukun Negara, our nation’s philosophy, emphasises a liberal approach to our rich and diverse cultural traditions,” Chandra told FMT.
“What does Alwi mean when he says the book promotes liberalism? Is he referring to the tradition of liberal thinking which was developed in 18th-century Europe, or is he, as I suspect, equating liberalism to a permissive attitude towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community?”
Chandra, who is the chairman of Yayasan 1Malaysia, said he believed Alwi had a distorted view of liberalism and pluralism.
Pluralism, he said, refers to the existence and acknowledgement of diversity, whether cultural, religious or political, which was a reality in today’s world.
“I believe Alwi is interpreting pluralism to mean that all religions are the same. This isn’t what pluralism is, because no two religions are the same even though they have some similarities like promoting kindness or respecting nature.”
But he said all religions are different, giving the example of how Christians and Muslims believe in an afterlife while Buddhists believe in reincarnation.
Chandra also said Islam had no problem with diversity, citing Quranic verses in Chapter 49, verse 13 and Chapter 5, verse 48.
These verses, he said, support the Quranic view of accepting different religions and cultures.
“Liberalism and pluralism aren’t bad words. So I really don’t know what is their problem with the G25 book.”
The G25 book was one of 18 publications recently banned by the home ministry under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No 12) Order 2017. The ban was signed by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on June 14.
The book, which was first published by Marshall Cavendish in December 2015, discusses the impact of Islamic bureaucracy in Malaysia and its consistency with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
It also addresses its socio-political dimensions and cultural-economic implications on Malaysian society.