From Ti Lian Ker
Recently, there was a report that said postings on social media showed sympathy for an employee whose sacking for wearing a cross was seen as a case of unfair dismissal and religious discrimination.
Comments from Malaysian Muslims included one by “Nina’s Nazri” who said the decision to sack the employee was not right. “Wearing a cross has no bearing on the halal status of the food served,” the netizen wrote.
Another posting quoted a Quranic verse that read, “To you your religion, to me mine.”
Blessed are those who uphold the true spirit and the truth of their religious teachings. Upon reading these comments, I am optimistic that Malaysia has hope, and that this is the way forward for us: progressive, fair, and human.
We should all band together and call out the wrongs and injustices committed by egoistic and self-centred people who are absorbed in their own interests or thoughts in a selfish manner, to the exclusion of others.
This is increasingly so when more and more people are resorting to religion to submit, subvert, or suppress others for their own purposes and objectives. It is sad that this is not confined to politicians who have no qualms or hesitation about resorting to culture, race, or religion to empower themselves or dominate others.
As I was growing up, I watched helplessly the manipulation of cultural, racial and religious sentiments and narratives.
For decades, I have been exposed to the political narratives and views of veteran politicians such as Lim Kit Siang, Abdul Hadi Awang and Dr Mahathir Mohamad that are slanted and bent to alter the views of their targeted group. We can refer to Lim’s “Time Bombs”, Hadi’s “Amanat Hadi” and Mahathir’s “Malay Dilemma” to see their divisive rhetoric.
All three benefited and empowered themselves, but now that I am older, I am not going to stand by and allow similar narratives and misdeeds to tear our people further and further apart.
I would like to encourage more people to point out the misdeeds and wrongs that have contributed to our negative vibes and the present political milieu. Enough is enough of the same old, same old.
Malaysians have inherited a harmonious national multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious foundation that is way too precious for us to allow any politicians or parties to trample on or displace.
We should not be bystanders watching these emerging trends of using or resorting to religion to dominate others now that cultural and racial narratives are no longer as effective as before.
Religion has been used to incite or excite Bangsa Malaysia effectively for decades. Fortunately, we are now less susceptible to racial or cultural provocations. Thankfully, we are more interracially and culturally integrated today.
But can we put an end to such judgemental views that reek of discrimination?
Are we normalising Islamic concepts and succumbing to or subjecting ourselves to Islamic jurisprudence, laws, and practices?
Otherwise, it would not be a case of “to you your religion and to me mine”, but more of “to you my religion”, which could lead to many injustices.
When one is judged by the religion of another, there will be hardship and oppression.
Ti Lian Ker is a senator and a former deputy unity minister.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.