What is ‘Islamic development’ Mr Prime Minister?

Dr-Dzulkefly-AhmadBy Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

I almost fell off my chair when I read a news report about Prime Minister Najib Razak urging the rakyat not to vote “those who don’t want Islam developed”. He didn’t quite elaborate on how to develop Islam though.

On the back of a litany of “sins of omissions and commissions”, namely the scandal of an unprecedented nature in relation to 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd, involving billions of ringgit in public funds and taxpayer money, Najib’s words sound hollow.

Najib has also conveniently forgotten or selectively chosen to be amnesic about the abuse of funds and mismanagement by some of his lieutenants in certain government agencies and GLCs.

Najib must be made to understand that he cannot hoodwink the rakyat by posturing that he was helping PAS or Islam by getting the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355 tabled, for the third time, but then instructing the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to not allow debate on it.

If he thinks that is “developing Islam” then he is unmistakably under an illusion. It is wishful thinking of the highest order. The rakyat, especially the Muslim constituencies, are no longer as gullible or naive as before. Perhaps he and Umno are still oblivious to this changing reality. Perhaps Najib is in need of a little preaching since he has started to be a preacher himself now.

Let me remind Najib and his new ally PAS that the utmost objective of shariah, insofar as government is concerned, is to manage the resources of the nation responsibly, sustainably and prudently, so as to achieve “prosperity and distributive justice for all”. That is categorically stated in Surah Hud:61, calling for “Al-Isti’mar” or, in the widest sense, “prosperity and well-being” for all.

Allah has outrightly denounced and cursed those steeped in the practise of fraud and injustices, driven essentially by greed and dishonesty. Allah says; “Woe unto those that deal in fraud” in the Surah (Chapter) Al-Mutaffifeen and reminds them of the final reckoning on the day of judgement, when everyone will stand before the lord of the worlds.

The Malay-Muslim community particularly, must be made to understand in very clear terms that striving for “Islamic development” is about “achieving justice and attaining prosperity for all” and getting rid of corrupt and dishonest Malay-Muslim leaders, who are responsible for the rising cost of living and withdrawal of subsidies and imposing the burdensome and regressive GST or consumption tax on the rakyat.

The Malays especially must be told that these are the leaders who actually perpetuate gross income and wealth disparities by amassing huge wealth through nepotism and crony capitalism. Hence, denying the right and development of the poor and marginalised sections of the rakyat.

Islamic development is surely not about merely increasing the limit of punishment, especially if the “offenders” are from the lower income group, while the political elites and their super-rich friends are free to plunder the wealth of the nation – wealth that is meant to develop the rakyat, particularly the poor, who then have to rob or steal to survive or be driven to social vices out of desperation and poverty.

I challenge Najib to honestly disclose and declassify the findings of the report of the Auditor- General on the 1MDB investigation. Najib has committed a grave “sin of omission” in Islam by classifying the controversial 1MDB report – on the unaccounted for or missing RM14 billion in 1MDB funds – under the Official Secrets Act. That is a grave sin indeed! I challenge any mufti, worth their salt, to denounce me as going against the “Maslahah Ammah” or “public interest”.

In no way has Saudi Arabian ruler King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud’s visit to Malaysia exonerated Najib from the infamous RM2.6 billion found in his personal AmBank Islamic accounts. The SRC International issue – where money was borrowed from the pension fund KWAP – also needs immediate reckoning.

On the back of this and a litany of other wrongdoings on his part, it becomes a huge mockery for Najib to slander his political opposition as being ‘unislamic’. In fact, his opponents have better and more substantive ways of strengthening the Shariah Court, rather than merely upping the limit of punishments.

I have not even touched on the deepening crisis of racial disharmony and the increasing religious conflict that is anathema to and at loggerheads with “Islam as mercy unto all”.

So what are we talking about when we say ‘Islamic development’, Mr PM?

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is Strategy Director of Parti Amanah Negara.

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