Recently, former tourism minister Nazri Aziz reportedly said that the post of attorney-general, chief justice and finance minister should not have been given to a non-Malay because they could not take their oath of office by swearing on the Quran.
Nazri said an individual swearing before the Agong must use the Quran because the king is a Muslim. “I can just hold a dictionary and I swear anything because I know this is just a normal book,” he said.
In the US Congress, Rashida Tlaib, an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, was sworn in with her left hand on her own copy of the Quran.
Ilhan Omar, who arrived in the US 23 years ago as a refugee fleeing Somalia’s war, used the Quran of her late grandfather, who helped raise her, for her swearing-in.
New members of Congress are not required to take their oaths on the Bible or any other religious text. In fact, they need not swear on anything at all.
According to Nazri, what he said was to reflect the Malay sentiments.
Why is that the US, a Christian nation, allows the Quran to be used for the swearing-in of these congresswomen?
Despite what we say about American politicians and American politics, they respect the freedom of religion and individual human rights. Even if they use a dictionary for their swearing in, they have their heart in the right place to serve the people and the country, irrespective of race and religion.
In Malaysia, it’s ok to swear by the Quran even if you end up robbing the country and letting your own fellow Malays down.
The Malay sentiments are very much displaced if they can’t comprehend hordes of jewellery, Birkin bags, watches and cash stashed in various locations in the city being loaded on police trucks.
It’s nice to take selfies with “Bossku” who is being charged for robbing the country; after all, he swore on the Quran.
In his speech in Semenyih, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said: “Najib has no shame. No shame at all. He can smile at being called Bossku”.
It’s worrying when some Malays cannot distinguish right from wrong and display adulation for a person who has been charged for crimes against the country.
Any normal person will hide his face in shame when brought to court in handcuffs and wearing the orange shirt.
But for “Bossku”, it’s a game at the expense of the Malays who he represents. There is no conscience or even an iota of guilt feelings – not even remorse, for putting the nation to shame.
Nazri’s so-called Malay sentiments are the same expressed by Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS. Hadi has always insisted Cabinet posts be reserved for Malay-Muslims and that non-Muslims have no right to participate in the leadership of our nation.
Hadi is now fighting a losing battle in public space, over Sarawak Report’s accusation that PAS received RM90 million from Umno and splurged it on earthly things shunned by religious leaders and pious people.
In defending his speech while campaigning and slammed for being “racist”, Nazri clarified that he was merely pushing for rights of all communities in Malaysia to be protected.
If that is the case, why must he say that ministers must be Malay Muslims as they must be sworn in by the Quran?
Is he saying that non-Muslim political leaders, for example, from Sabah and Sarawak, cannot occupy positions in the federal Cabinet because they must be sworn in by the Quran?
To emphasise his point, Nazri claimed that former Argentine president Carlos Menem, whose parents are from Syria, was forced to convert to Catholicism in order to take his oath of office in 1989. Is he saying that all the three, Tommy Thomas, Richard Malanjum and Lim Guan Eng need to be converted to Islam before they can occupy the post?
Many have attacked Nazri for his bigoted statements and bringing religion into the political arena. One netizen from Sabah said, what is the point in being in Malaysia when all the top posts are reserved for Malay Muslims?
“Has he forgotten that the diversity of race, religion and cultures, has helped Malaysia become what it is today. You may play to your power base but bigoted leaders should be condemned and have no place in Malaysia”.
In practice, swearing on a religious book does not put the fear of god in you, neither will it help you keep to god’s laws. It is largely symbolic.
The number of Malay Muslim leaders being charged everyday in court is a sign that swearing on the Quran is not a deterrent to corruption or other misdeeds.
In truth, Malays are more worried about keeping up with the cost of living and their own well being than worrying about the disqualification of Cabinet members because they do not swear on the Quran.
Nazri’s red herring on swearing on the Quran is to sow discord with the hope of winning Malay votes. Eventually, people will realise, when they are spoken for, they are taken to the cleaners by certain leaders who will use them for their very own ends.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.