, , , , , , ,

marinaThank you, Marina [right], for having the courage to speak out boldly and clearly against the rising threat to Malaysia’s constitutional foundations [see Malay Mail On Line report below]

What is at stake here is the very future of Malaysia – whether we will remain a Westminster style constitutional democracy (albeit a fraying one) or an outright one-party state with an Islamic veneer. The mullahs, with the quiet endorsement of the powers that be, seem intent on making Malaysia a de facto Islamic state where fatwas and religious edicts become more important than the federal constitution. This is a sure recipe for disaster — the record of other states where the mullahs rule, or have undue influence, speaks for itself.

Along with the rise of the mullahs and extremists is a sudden and sharp rise in the number of “threats to race and religion.” Listening to them, Christians, “immigrants,” Jews, gays, etc. — the usual suspects whenever a bogeyman is needed — are suddenly lurking behind every door ready to subvert, convert or pervert the nation. In truth, anyone who does not toe the line is an enemy of Malaysia, of the Malays, of Islam. How insecure get these guys get?

The last time I heard such a shrill cacophony of warnings about imaginary enemies was when I was in North Korea in the 1970s! As popular dissent increases, expect still more shrill warnings about enemies within and without.

Its time to stop this nonsense especially as there are far more pressing issues that are confronting our nation. Instead of tilting at windmills and going after imaginary enemies, national attention should be devoted to tackling the massive corruption that is bleeding our nation dry, the criminal abuse of power and the mismanagement of our economy. After all, shouldn’t true believers be outraged, first and foremost, by the corruption and injustice that is so much in evidence in Malaysia today?

There is no doubt that all these pseudo-Islamic issues are simply diversionary politics — an attempt to divert attention away from pressing national issues. How telling that while the nation sinks under the weight of bad government, we are obsessed with a few cross-dressers! 

Robert Kennedy once said that “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Marina represents one of those ripples of hope that is slowly building the current in Malaysia that someday will sweep away tyranny, oppression and intolerance.

Malaysia not theocratic dictatorship, SIS tells Jamil Khir

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Women’s advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS) has told minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia is a democracy and not a theocratic dictatorship.

The Muslim women’s rights NGO also said shariah laws are man-made and therefore not infallible, pointing out that the recent court challenges by SIS against a fatwa and by a group of Muslim transgender men against a state shariah law prohibiting cross-dressing were challenges to the “unjust and inefficient” Islamic legal system in Malaysia.

“We would like to remind the minister that Malaysia is a democratic country, not a theocratic dictatorship,” Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, a member of SIS’ board of directors, told Malay Mail Online.

“Our Federal Constitution guarantees the fundamental liberties of every citizen including Muslims. The rule of law applies to everyone, and everyone has a right to seek redress in the courts if they feel they have been unfairly treated,” she added.

SIS also expressed alarm at the call by Jamil Khir, who is the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs, for all Muslims to defend their faith from liberal ideologies “by any method”.

“Does this mean he is giving the go-ahead for anyone to take vigilante action against those the minister deems un-Islamic, including violence? Does this mean that should anyone physically attack such persons, the state will take no action against them?” Marina asked.

Jamil Khir said yesterday that in a “new wave” of assault, Muslim transgenders and SIS are colluding with Islam’s enemies to put its religious institutions on trial in a secular court.

The minister was responding to two recent court challenges where state Islamic authorities were cast into a defensive role, with one initiated by SIS at the High Court here against a Selangor religious edict, or fatwa, declaring their organisation and its members “deviants”.

The other was a separate case mounted by a group of transgender men who were convicted of cross-dressing under the Negri Sembilan state shariah law, which they won at the Court of Appeal Friday.

A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal had unanimously ruled Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992 to be unconstitutional as it violated the three Muslim men’s right to freedom of expression.

Jamil Khir said Islamic institutions like the state Islamic councils must work together to face “this new wave against Islam”, claiming that there is an “agenda” outside the country’s predominant religion aiming to twist the faith of Muslims.

Malaysia’s religious authorities have long derided liberalism and pluralism, with Friday sermons nationwide claiming a conspiracy by “enemies of Islam” to manipulate Muslims through ideas like secularism, socialism, feminism and positivism, in addition to the two.