The coalition of groups bent on destabilising the Pakatan Harapan government is using post-truth politics and disinformation, targeting disgruntled and susceptible Malays. They are taking to the streets trying to hoodwink their own race that the king, religion and anything “Malay” are under threat.
This group of Malays participated in mass demonstrations organised by NGOs like Ummah with the support of PAS and Umno members in December 2018, and the May 4 rally recently.
Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam recently announced he is planning to stage a mega rally of one million people, 10 days after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, to protest against the ratification of the Rome Statute. Khairy Jamaluddin, the former youth and sports minister sums up Lokman in a tweet in November 2018, “You better pray I don’t become President of Umno. First thing I’ll do is sack you for having the IQ of a carrot”.
Holding a rally at a time when most of us would still be celebrating Hari Raya shows much about a person. I am not sure what is the IQ of a carrot, zero perhaps?
Calling a rally after the fact is like taking action when the horse has already bolted. In the case of these two rallies, the government has already decided not to go ahead with ICERD and the Rome Statute, yet rallies were held to protest what has already been decided in their favour. What a waste of time.
Is royalty under threat? The tiff between our Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, where Dr Mahathir called him “stupid” and “little boy”, is nothing new. The run-in with the Johor royalty started during the Umno era but these Malay groups are now trying to pin the blame on the PH government. The precedent was already set by Umno leaders, and it’s like the pot calling the kettle black. These Malay critics have a short, or rather selective memory when it comes to these incidents.
In June 2015, a news portal reported that the former tourism and culture minister, Nazri Aziz, warned Tunku Ismail to keep out of politics, otherwise, he may be subjected to the same rule and will be whacked. Nazri was quoted as saying by an online portal, “Rulers and royal families are not above the law. If he wants to be a politician, then say so”. When Nazri wanted to whack the crown prince, none of the Muslim NGOs, Umno or PAS took to the streets or criticised Nazri. Not even the former prime minister Najib Razak.
In another incident in October 2017, a YouTube video showed a preacher, Zamihan Mat Zin, openly criticising the Sultan of Johor’s decree banning Muslim-only laundrettes in the state.
Zamihan was at that time under the employment of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and seconded to the home ministry.
When the Sultan of Johor declared Zamihan as persona non grata and banned Jakim from the state, the deputy prime minister then, Ahmad Zahid Hamid, instead of penalising or sacking Zamihan, said that the home ministry would retain the services of the outspoken preacher, to rehabilitate and de-radicalise Islamic State militants held in prisons.
Zamihan was a BN government employee who challenged the Sultan of Johor’s decree.
Is Islam really under threat? Islam is in a confused state because some muftis play politics. Take the recent case. In his usual blunt remarks, Mahathir criticised Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin for being deaf to the good things the PH government has done for Islam. Asri’s outburst was due to the arrest of preacher Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu. Zamri, who was alleged to be a disciple of controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, was arrested for mocking and belittling Hinduism during a religious sermon in December 2018. Asri has garnered support from strange bedfellows.
Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki revealed that the mufti, a frequent critic of the previous Barisan Nasional government, had contacted him seeking the wing’s support. Why would a mufti reach out for the support of a deposed political party to protect a Muslim preacher if he is not playing politics?
Perhaps Asri should take heed of the advice Nazri gave to the Crown Prince of Johor – when you cross the line, you no longer remain a respected religious leader but will be exposed to public criticism and ridicule. Many of us can’t remember a time when our muftis came out strongly against corruption and excesses of the previous BN government.
Asri’s views have never been consistent. Netizens have commented that he tends to flip flop in his opinion and has a thing about Hinduism. In April 2017, he had to apologise to the Hindus who, he said, misunderstood the contents of his controversial poem criticising “cow worshippers”. Asri had written the cryptic poem criticising “cow worshippers” (Hindus) for trying to have Naik handed over to the Indian government. Hindraf chairman P Waytha Moorthy had reportedly said that Asri was “under the influence” of Naik, who was granted permanent residence in Malaysia.
Many Muslims and NGOs feel uneasy with Naik’s ideologies and controversial preaching. In India, he has now been formally charged with money laundering, and he has been banned from entering Sarawak, the United Kingdom and Canada: those governments are weary of Naik’s controversial preaching.
The question being asked now is whether Asri follows Naik’s ideology and teachings. Has Naik’s preaching infiltrated our mufti’s offices and the Muslim community? Perhaps Ummah should answer whether we need a foreigner and a wanted fugitive to teach and lecture Muslims in Malaysia instead of our own muftis. What happened to billion ringgit budget Jakim and all the Muslim scholars that we have sent to the Middle East? Are they all useless?
The reality is that Islam in Malaysia is under threat from internal and external forces.
The internal threats come in the form of the corruption of Muslim leaders, radicalisation of our Islamic youth, the growth of unregulated tahfiz schools, the distrust among different Muslim sects, the banning of books written by Muslim intellectuals and so forth.
Externally, the threat to Islam comes when we revere a foreigner and wanted fugitive and grant him permanent residence. Naik’s preaching does not suit our multi-religious multi-racial country. Furthermore, he has not sworn allegiance to our King and country. For him, Malaysia is only a convenient sanctuary which serves his agenda. Why does he not reside in Indonesia which has the biggest Muslim population in the world and take his preaching with him? Are our religious and political leaders that gullible?
East Malaysians are always worried that the racial politico-religious issues constantly in play in West Malaysia will eventually reach our shores. Critics of Naik have said that his teachings are a catalyst for radicalisation of Islam and we should not be fooled by his intentions.
Works Minister, Baru Bian was reported to have said in a news portal in April of 2017 that Naik should not only be banned from Sarawak but deported or charged by Malaysian authorities. He questioned how we could harbour someone who is wanted elsewhere and give him PR status.
“He has been creating disharmony, making sensitive statements that have affected our multi-religious society in Malaysia. That itself should be grounds to deport him or charge him. This kind of person should not be allowed to stay in Malaysia”.
The truth: Malays are in control of the country, religion and their own destiny, but are now being pitted against each other, weakening their own race and religion. Malaysia is the only country in the world where a dominant community in power pulls each other down. With all the privileges on earth bestowed on them, the Malays should use their political dominance wisely and not be used by unscrupulous politicians who have IQs of a carrot.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.