PETALING JAYA: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has criticised those he claims disregard the dominance of the Malays in Malaysia, saying the idea that all races are equal in moulding a nation’s identity does not exist in practice even in the advanced West.
He said in European countries, despite the emphasis on human rights and equality, the whites still dominate and influence the identities of the countries.
“A country has its identity. China is for Chinese, is India for the Chinese too? No, it’s for the Indians,” he said in a lecture at a mosque last night.
“What about Malaysia, Tanah Melayu? If China is for the Chinese and the Indian sub-continent is for the Indians, can Tanah Melayu be for all?
“Of course, justice is for all, but there must be a dominant race,” he said.
Citing the controversy over the teaching of the Jawi script, Asri said its inclusion in the syllabus is because it is part of the dominant race’s heritage.
He said in neighbouring Thailand, Malay citizens learn and speak the Thai language, including for Islamic studies, while countries such as Singapore and China expect their citizens to subscribe to a single national school stream.
Malaysia, on the other hand, said Asri, has given leeway to different communities to set up their own vernacular schools.
Asri said there seems to be a phobia towards anything that is linked with Islam, including in the controversy over Jawi.
The Jawi controversy was part of the outrage by Chinese educationists over the education ministry’s move to introduce khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus.
Asri said some Muslim leaders from the ruling coalition were eager to speak out in defence of those who are “anti-religion”, but chose not to speak up when insults were thrown at Islam.
He also questioned the silence of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu over remarks on the armed forces by tycoon Koon Yew Yin.
Koon in a recent blog posting said Malaysia’s armed forces personnel “are doing nothing except eating and sleeping”, and proposed that they be recruited as labourers in plantations. The businessman has since apologised for the remarks.
“I’m amazed that the minister in charge of the armed forces said nothing, he has been silent,” Asri said.
“They are very quiet and at peace, rahmatan lil alamin (mercy to the worlds),” he said, taking a jibe at a phrase promoted by Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs.
Asri said in contrast, some Malay government leaders were quick to defend critics of Dr Zakir Naik over the latter’s controversial speeches.
Asri, who is among Naik’s strongest supporters, said he personally believes it is “inappropriate” for Naik to touch on domestic politics, but that he was saddened by Muslim leaders who selectively condemn Naik.
“There is not any religious value left in them,” he said.
Calls for Naik to be sent back to India grew following a recent series of lectures he gave in Kelantan, one of which touched on the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He claimed that Malaysian Hindus are more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Mahathir despite receiving “100 times” more rights than Muslims in India.
He was also quoted as saying that Chinese in Malaysia were considered “guests” in Malaysia.
Naik, who is fighting calls for his deportation to India where he has been charged with money laundering, has since said he is being targeted in a campaign to vilify him.