Saving Malaysia, again

On May 9, Malaysians did not win a war. We won one battle. I now call on us all to combine our strengths and, once again, save Malaysia by fighting the disinformation on social media and in mosques.

I am writing this article just three months shy of the anniversary of May 9 – the second Independence Day of the people. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is in danger of collapse come GE15, perhaps even sooner. I predict that the Semenyih by-election will favour opposition parties, with their racial and religious rhetoric.

PH is losing the battle for the Malay mindset on social media. We have non-Malays who are disenfranchised with PH for not fulfilling its manifesto due to its mollycoddling of the Malay sentiment. At the same time, PAS and Umno are gaining ground with their “DAP menjatuhkan Islam dan Melayu” mantra and their talk of “the Christianisation of Malaysia by DAP”. PAS and Umno are helped, perhaps unconsciously, by the state’s religious sermons which have whether knowingly or not, contributed to the dismantling of ideas and ideals in Malaysia.

The battleground has shifted from television and earlier forms of media. It is now on social media: Facebook and, most dangerous of all, WhatsApp. These two media forms are inadvertently helped by the ceramahs and sermons at mosques and suraus across the nation. To counter this assault, PH must act now, with the help of the people.

PH ministers must play hardball. I understand their reluctance, but I consider the nation to be in a crisis mode. Ministers may be happily driving their limousines, but I have read the writing on the wall after four by-elections, the demonstrations against ICERD, and the ruckus over the Seafield temple issue.

Maszlee Malik and Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who are in charge of over 15,000 ustaz or religious teachers or officers at schools and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department as well as public universities, must use these people to spread the Rahmatan–lil-alamin concept of Islam after they have undergone a course on the subject of civilisational interaction. This will help the ustaz understand and appreciate the various faiths through talks, exams, studies as well as visits and social interaction with people of all faiths in this country. These religious teachers, academics and scholars must be able to speak on the real Islam – the Islam that can exist within the context of democracy, nation-building and universal spirituality.

Ministries must also work hard to counter all false information with the truth, presented in an engaging matter so as to persuade more people. Just appearing on Astro Awani won’t cut it. During the Reformasi era, Malays like me turned off the television for 20 years. Now Malays in Umno and PAS do the same. Umno no longer carries the 1MDB baggage of former prime minister Najib Razak. Najib and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are out. The Umno that is left is “clean”. So Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng harping on 1MDB no longer hold any water for the Malays. PH must come up with a new narrative of how Malays can be better off economically, socially and spiritually with this government.

And what are the police doing about all the fake news, slanderous videos and seditious letters being passed along on WhatsApp? All I have seen so far is the police swiftly catching a poor man who said something not nice about them. He was slapped with a cruel six-month jail term. Some people made comments about the recent resignation of the king and, again, there was a rapid response from the police. What are the police doing with all the WhatsApp messages that could derail our country’s social and religious harmony? Writing a book? And what about a politician’s suggestion that only Muslims be elected as MPs? Is that not against our constitution? He may think it is religiously correct, according to his interpretation of Islam, but this view is in direct contradiction to the constitution. Why is this man still making speeches?

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must step up his game or else give the post to someone else. He does not even know whether the G25 book “Breaking Silence” is seditious or not. If the book is considered seditious, I recommend that all public universities be closed down because every new idea is necessarily “seditious and disrupts society”. If the book is seditious, then why are the authors and the writer of the foreword not in custody?

Society is not supposed to be stagnant and graze like cows. The human spirit is necessarily rebellious against social norms in order to ascend the ladder of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. What is the need for a home ministry if it cannot tell between a good intellectual book and complete trash?

I call upon my brethren, the Malaysians who love the idea and ideals of Malaysia, to do battle for our country. We must band together and help the PH government save Malaysia – for us. Not for Anwar Ibrahim, not for Mahathir, not for Mohamed Azmin Ali. For us and for our children.

We must report any fake news or disinformation to the relevant authorities. We must also report our friends, our relatives and our colleagues whom we know are committing acts that could undermine our constitution. I did that against one of my closest relatives and now he does not spread any news whatsoever. I took the necessary risk of undermining my family ties, and I do not regret it. I did it because firstly, as a Muslim, the spreading of fake news is a great sin. Secondly, my relative could be charged with sedition if caught by the police. Thirdly, I did it to save Malaysia for all of my brethren – the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, Eurasians, Kadazandusuns and others. I may lose some Malay friends, relatives and colleagues but the price is small compared to losing the ideas and ideals of our forefathers who formed the constitution of Malaysia.

On May 9, we did not win a war. We merely won a battle. We gained a foothold in the war to win Malaysia, but there are many more to go before the ideas and ideals of Malaysia see the light of day. Let the spirit of May 9 guide our path to victory. Negara kita, tanggungjawab kita.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.