By P Ramasamy
At one extreme, the “Muslim only” laundrette in Muar, Johor, is nothing but plain stupidity and a matter for a good laugh. However, at the other extreme, it is something that worries Malaysians because of its extreme and intolerant nature.
I might have disagreed with and criticised the Perlis Mufti for his blind support of Zakir Naik, the Muslim preacher from Bombay some time back. But, I am in agreement with Asri for his rational argument against limiting the laundrette to only Muslims.
Asri is right in saying that you cannot have such artificial and harmful divisions in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Malaysia. If a handful of Muslim extremists get away with such an apartheid policy, then there is no telling what others will do in the near future.
The entire democratic and free world condemned the practice of apartheid in South Africa years back, including Malaysia, but now we witness a system of apartheid being introduced in the name of religion.
If such practices are not stopped, then there is a possibility further divisions will be created between Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. You might have some “insane” person coming up with the idea a separate currency, separate bathrooms, and other divisions in the near future.
Introducing racial and religious divisions is not something that is happening in a vacuum: the country’s political scenario of the primacy given to race and religion is the main cause.
Unfortunately, the ruling regime is partly responsible for such divisions being perpetuated beyond rationality. Winning elections and staying in power has come with costs that might affect the stability and well-being of the larger population.
However, there are groups not only pandering to those in power but actually indulging in acts that are detrimental to the political, social and economic well-being of Malaysians.
There are already serious divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims. Do we need to sow the seeds for further differences to the extent the stability and well-being of the country as a whole is affected to the point of no return?
P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister and DAP deputy secretary-general.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.