Religious reforms needed for peace and harmony

In my interview with an Indonesian radio station last Monday, I reiterated my view that Lina Joy should proceed to bring her case to the Syariah Courts as instructed by the Federal Courts. The ball will then be in the courts of the Syariah Courts and this courts will have to prove its worth. Yes, one may argue that the Federal Courts should have taken upon itself to decide whether Lina Joy could or could not leave Islam. Since the Federal Courts has failed to perform, Lina should try out the Syariah Courts as a last resort.

Many are now worried that the country is going down to the road of an Islamic State. This is something DAP has been expressing its concern for a long time. The danger has become “more real” after Lina Joy and several other cases concerning the converts in recent months. A solution or consensus must be reached by the authority soonest possible. Something must be done by all the religious leaders and political leaders in this country to stop the uneasy trend before it’s too late. we are disappointed with the Prime Minister because he has failed to lead on the matter.

DAP also sees the importance and significance of establishing an Interfaith Council since the nineties. Mr Lim Kit Siang has spoken and written on the issue time and again inside and outside of the Parliament.We believe the Interfaith Council, if established, would be able to help drawing guidelines for issues concerning conversions and other issues related to the disputes between the different faiths.

Malaysia will remain as a multi-religious nation for a long time. We need to find a solution for the good of its entire citizenry.

All religions are equal. Everyone is talking about the same God. There is no supremacy of this religion over another religion. No? Please keep the dialogue open and free.

Islam is not about anything as crass as power

Azmi Sharom
Jun 4, 07 3:34pm
Malaysiakini 
This letter is a reaction to the decision of the Federal Court in the Lina Joy case. Taking heed of the prime minister’s concerns, I have two unemotional points to make. Firstly the Federal Constitution should guarantee the rights of all Malaysians to choose their religion. Secondly, this issue of apostasy in Islam is far more open to interpretation than what the orthodoxy claims.Article 11 of the Federal Constitution is very clear. Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion. They can propagate it as well if they want unless the state laws say you can’t propagate to Muslims. It is also clear by Schedule 9 of the Constitution that whatever Islamic laws that we have is to be made by the state legislature (with the exception of the three Federal Territories).These Islamic laws are to be judged by the Syariah courts, whose jurisdiction is only over persons who profess to Islam. The types of Islamic laws that the state legislature can make and that Syariah courts enforce are also listed in Schedule 9. To summarise, they cover issues of family, inheritance and the administration of Islamic institutions and charities. There is no mention at all about apostasy.Where then does the state legislature get the authority to punish Muslims who declare that they wish to leave the religion? Where does it say in the constitution that you can fine, jail or ‘rehabilitate’ people who have chosen to believe differently? This ‘authority’ comes from a line in Schedule 9 that says states can make laws punishing Muslims who act against the ‘precepts’ of the religion. I must repeat here that apostasy is not expressly mentioned, therefore everything hinges on the question as to what makes up the ‘precepts’ of Islam.The constitution is not any mere legal document. It is not like an ordinary contract where you can have express terms and implied terms. It is a guarantee that the government and the law will not take away our fundamental rights as a human being. As such, it is unacceptable that a right as vital as the freedom of religion can be taken away with anything less than an express clause saying in no uncertain terms that this can be done.Justice Ahmad Fairuz, in his judgment, made the point that one can’t leave one’s religion on a whim and religious bodies would naturally want to have procedures to regulate this. This may be true, especially in this country where being Malay by definition means being Muslim and if one were to renounce Islam then legally speaking one can’t be Malay. Therefore all the special Malay privileges won’t apply to you any more. In that sense, I can see the logic of having some sort of system to determine whether a person is a Muslim or not.

However, that process, if it must exist, must by necessity be purely administrative and automatic. It can not and must not be punitive. Because once it is punitive as it is in this country, (after all leaving Islam can mean imprisonment) in effect you are denying a person their freedom to choose
their religion as enshrined in Article 11.

The opposing argument to mine is that conversion out of Islam clearly goes against the ‘precepts’ of the religion. Apostasy is a crime that has to be punished. The degree of punishment ranges depending on which Islamic scholar you wish to quote, but the harshest is execution.

This is not a universally accepted view. The Koran, after all, does mention the lack of compulsion in religion. The verse does not come with explanatory notes as to the extent of this statement. There are opinions that say it means no compulsion to join the religion, but once in, there are compulsions aplenty, one of which is that you can’t leave. There are others that say that it means exactly what it says, you can’t force religion on anyone and that once this is done religion can have no meaning. Furthermore, the Koran does not prescribe any worldly punishment for apostasy. Therefore this entire issue is the result of human interpretation of the Koran. It is thus surely open for debate.

Let me provide an example of how changing times and values have affected how Muslims view the verses in our holy book. The Koran is ambivalent about slavery. It does not say that slavery is a sin. Neither does it encourage it. But there are verses that describe what one can do to one’s slave. In this day and age, you would be hard pressed to find a Muslim who will say that slavery should be reintroduced. Yet it seems to be allowed in the Koran.

I am not being facetious. I do not believe that Islam, taken as a whole, encourages or even condones slavery. The verses were meant for a particular time in history when such practices did occur. But the point here is that if the values of the ‘ummah’ can change to the point that practices which are allowed in the divine Koran won’t be accepted anymore, why then can’t we do the same for what is essentially the mere opinion of human Islamic scholars on the issue of freedom of religion?

Often, when the view is put forward that there is no compulsion in Islam and that if a person wants to leave they should be allowed to, there are the usual cries that such attitudes are the result of liberal, Western influenced minds. In all honesty, that is probably a fair ‘criticism’ of someone like me. However, Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), the Indonesian cleric and ex-president as well as the mufti of Al Azhar in Egypt are just two examples of people who also share this view. They can’t possibly be described in the same way.

At the end of the day it is simply quite cruel to not allow someone to believe what they want to believe. It is not a decision made lightly and as can be seen in Lina Joy’s situation, one that can lead to misery and heartache. Just as I am sure many converts into Islam face misery and heartache from their respective community. It’s hard enough to face being ostraciced from family and friends without having to face legal persecution as well. When faced with two contesting human opinions on the ‘precepts’ of Islam, one which is harsh and one which is merciful, I choose the latter.

Religion is one path towards personal peace and spiritual fulfilment. It is also something which depends entirely on faith. Even if the religion is a ‘way of life’, a term commonly used to describe Islam; it still needs belief and faith. How can one be forced to follow a ‘way of life’ if one simply does not believe in it? Once the element of force comes into the picture, be it in the form of fines, imprisonment or ‘rehabilitation’, then religion ceases to be about the spiritual and becomes instead a matter of power. I can not accept that the religion I was born into and my children are raised in is about anything as crass as power.

And it is my right to believe that.

Gatekeeping will not stop apostasy
Azza Basarudin, Cairo
Jun 11, 07 2:49pm
Malaysiakini
I write in light of the larger debate currently taking place in Malaysia on the right to determine one’s faith and the need to uphold the secular Malaysian constitution. Lina Joy’s case has highlighted, above everything else, the Malay-Muslim obsession with the boundaries of who is considered an ‘insider’ and who is an ‘outsider’. Individuals, particularly women, who transgress the preset borders of racial and/or ethnic purity are seen as deviant communal actors with blatant disregard for the survival of the Muslim ummah, thus the act of transgressing these borders allows for racial and/or ethnic supremacy to be normalised, reproduced and reinforced (in this case, through manufactured consent of ethno-religious uprising).Why the obsession with demanding that Lina Joy remain a Muslim? Is this obsession a reflection of Malay-Muslim religiosity? Is it really about Islam? If we interrogate Malaysian history of ethnic relations and religiosity, it will be apparent that this debacle is not about one’s faith. It is about politics, or more accurately, the politicisation of religion in the public sphere. It is about
maintaining Malay-Muslim hegemony and the power of the ruling coalition party. It is about preserving special privileges accorded to the Malays in the name of national unity and ethnic ‘tolerance’. More importantly, it is about having the Malay majority rule the country without contest, ever.Where do we locate Islam Hadhari (Civilizational Islam) in this controversy? Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s claim to fame has been hailed as the foundation for promoting a more liberal interpretation and legislation of Islam, but do we see this in practice in Malaysia? Is it ‘civilized Islam’ to deny Lina Joy justice and dignity in the name of politics? If Abdullah is sincere in promoting Islam Hadhari and conscious of the rising ethno-religious conservatism that might, in the near future, lead Malaysia down the road of religious extremism, than government-sponsored Islamic institutions responsible for monitoring ‘proper’ understanding and practices of religion should be re- evaluated, re-structured and eventually abolished.These institutions are not only dictating how a person’s faith should be practiced, but also dangerously narrowing the diversity of Islamic understandings and interpretations according to the limited worldview of its visionaries.

Muslims of any race and ethnicity should value their own thought process and ability to understand and interpret religion (to a certain extent) for themselves. Islam is the religion for those who think and reflect. Privileging the doctrine of blind imitation (taqlid) denies Muslims the right to independent reasoning (Ijtihad) and the understanding that Qur’anic messages and teachings are amenable to change according to the socio-historical conditions of contemporary
Muslim societies.

The Qur’an is a blue print for living one’s life and not a blue print for oppression and tyranny. Gatekeepng is at best, an embarrassment to Malay-Muslims specifically, and to the ruling coalition generally because it reflects a mentality that is frozen in time. Gatekeeping will not ensure that more Malay-Muslim will not renounce Islam.

Lina Joy was denied justice and dignity not because she transgressed the boundaries of the religion (remember, the Qur’an states that there is no compulsion in religion, Al-Baqarah 2: 256), but because she transgressed the boundaries of what is permissible and beneficial to Malay- Muslim hegemony. Lina Joy is punished because she dared question the power and authority of the gatekeepers who must, for their own political hegemony, maintain a tight rein over the main defining characteristic of the Malay-Muslim majority, that is all Malays are Muslims.

Secularism the anti-thesis of Islam
Abdul Rahman Abdul Talib, Cairo
Jun 14, 07 3:02pm
Malaysiakini
I refer to the letter entitled Gatekeeping will not stop apostasy by Azza Basarudin. I regret that Azza chooses to view Islam from within a secular-liberal paradigm, instead of opting to view Islam from an objective perspective.Considering the fact that secularism is the anti-thesis of Islam, one cannot but help notice the wrong method of analysis being deployed by Azza. To view Islam in the light of secularism is to do injustice to Islam.Let me highlight one very important fact in Islam (with regards to the issue of apostasy). In Islam, there exists a consensus that apostasy is a felony. Therefore, all felonies, by any standards, must be subjected to some form of legal action. In other words, the legal action taken against Lina Joy is by no means contradictory to any article of human rights. Human rights does not exclude legal action against felonies.

To not curb acts of felony is a society is to ensure the flourishing of felonious acts. That is why even though the current punishment for theft and robbery is not a 100 percent deterrent but to opt for not enforcing the law will not give us a feeling of comfort that such acts will cease to exist.

Secularists believes that Islam (or religion) is a mere belief structure that is only relevant within an individual’s domain. Secularism then advocates that the function of religion should not breech the public domain.

But one can see the confusion of such a notion when, in practice, this is something of an impossible task. Even in the most secular of all states, such as America, the Christian right has existed as one the most strongest and most influential political factions. Though they may sound irreligious in their policy statements, the content of their policies is very much based on religious values.

Azza tries to quote the 02:256 verse from the Quran (which states ‘there is no compulsion in religion …). Yet his application of the verse to the issue of apostasy seems to be very much problematic.

If Azza’s understanding holds true, it would then render all of the ‘order-verses’ stipulated in the Quran to be void. Orders such as prayers, fasting, alms, respect for one’s parents and marriage would be mere advice despite the usage of the ‘ordering tone’ based on the Arabic language used in the respective verses.

Azza’s understanding of the verse would also introduce massive contradictions in the Quran. Azza should also be fully aware that the source of jurisprudence in Islam is not limited to the Quran alone. It is also based upon Al Hadeeth, Al Ijma and Al Qiyas. The Quran alone is not sufficient to answer all the needs for jurisprudence for the entire time until the Hereafter.

That is why the Quran tells us to follow the Prophet SAW (Al Hadeeth) who then taught us how to use Al Ijma (consensus) and Al Qiyas (comparison) when making a ruling based on Islam.

Azza should also realize that Islam has never existed as a mere belief-structure. From the time of the Prophet, Islam has been taught and practiced as a complete way of life encompassing matters with regards to government, the economy, legislation, law enforcement, jurisprudence, politics, society and many other aspects of life.

In short, the legal action taken against Lina Joy will ensure that apostasy will not flourish in Malaysia.

Untangling the knotty Lina Joy case
Kim Quek
Jun 13, 07 11:47am
Malaysiakini

The final judgment on the Lina Joy case has brought to head the increasingly controversial and divisive issue of religious freedom in Malaysia.

In an apparent attempt to skirt a potential confrontation between the civil court and the syariah court, both the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court (the nation’s highest court) had narrowed the case down to one of pure administrative issue – whether the National Registration Department (NRD) acted legally in rejecting Joy’s application to delete the world “Islam” from her identity card (IC).

That attempt to avoid confrontation has obviously failed, for the Federal Court judgment in rejecting Joy’s request to delete the word “Islam” aroused even greater consternation, this time attracting world-wide publicity, most of which is adverse to Malaysia’s image.

It is not difficult to understand why the Federal Court failed, for the bottom line of the Lina Joy case is not one of mere technicality involving only the NRD, but one that touches on fundamental issues relating to the Constitution as well as those surrounding religious faith.

When confronted by this case, the first question we must ask ourselves should be: Is Joy a Christian or a Muslim? The answer to this question is vital, for if Joy is not a Muslim, then according to NRD regulations, she needs not stipulate her religion to the NRD, and the court should therefore readily grant her request.

Joy is a Malay woman, born in 1964 and brought up by her family as a Muslim. In her statutory declaration, she said she had never professed or practiced Islam since birth, and that she had embraced Christianity in1990. She wanted to marry a Christian, but marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims are prohibited in this country. That prompted her to have her religious status of Islam in the IC deleted.

In any society, she would have been deemed a Christian. But obviously, the Malaysian courts do not think so, hence the prolong controversies which threaten to split the country, mostly along religious and racial lines.

Fundamental questions

Arising from these controversies, are a host of fundamental issues that beg for answers. These relate to personal conscience, religion, the Constitution, Syariah laws, and peculiar to this country, the unique relationship between the Malay race and Islam. I will attempt to explore some of these by asking the following questions:

1. How do you define a Muslim? When is the point of entry and when is the point of exit? When is a Muslim considered having left his religion?

2. Is there or isn’t there religious compulsion in Islam? If negative, shouldn’t Muslims be allowed to leave the religion as their conscience dictates? Are punitive apostate laws then contradicting the religion?

3. Article 11 of the Constitution states: “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion.” Does this include Malays and Muslims?

4. Article 8 of the Constitution proclaims all persons are equal before the law and prohibits discrimination on the ground of only religion, race, descent etc in any law. It does not, however, prohibit any provision regulating personal law. “Personal law” is understood to include family matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. Does it also include religion?

5. Islamic laws are legislated in the state assemblies and enforced by the Syariah courts. The scope of such legislation is prescribed in Schedule 9: List 2: para 1 of the Constitution. Among the items prescribed, which generally relate to family matters and administration of Islamic institutions, is one which empowers punishment on Muslims breaching the “precepts” of Islam. There is however no mention of apostasy. Does this “precepts” include apostasy?

6. In 1988, Article 121 of the Constitution was amended whereby civil courts “shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.” Arising from this amendment is the question of whether it is possible to have a clear-cut dividing line demarcating the boundary between the jurisdiction of the civil court and the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. What if the contending parties are Muslims vs non-Muslims – which jurisdiction does the case fall? What if there is a perceived conflict between the Syariah laws and the Constitution, or between the Syariah court and the civil court – which should reign supreme?

7. Should the Syariah system of justice be interpreted as parallel and independent of the Constitution and the civil courts?

It will be seen that the above questions tend to touch the base lines of the present conflict. Divergent views to these issues are expected due to differing backgrounds. However, I strongly believe that if we discourse with rationality and good conscience, considerable common grounds can be established among conflicting parties. I will start the ball rolling by volunteering some answers to them.

Answers 

Islam and Muslims

A person who believes in and consciously follows Islam is a Muslim.

As for entry and exit, other than those born to Muslim families, Muslim converts have to go through a well defined ceremony just like most other religions. However, unlike other religions which treat religious drop-outs as non-events, Islamic apostasy is taken more seriously; but Islamic opinions on apostasy vary widely, ranging from the extreme of those advocating for punishment by death to those in favour of peaceful exit. As in all religions, leaving Islam is not so well marked as at the time of entry. For instance, in Malaysia’s Federal Territories, where Joy used to reside and where her apostasy case might have been handled, the Islamic laws there (Islamic Administration Act) have no provision regulating the leaving of Islam, though apostasy is considered catastrophic for Malays.

The reason for not highlighting the leaving of any religion is simple – when one ceases to believe, that religion doesn’t exist in him any more. Why beat the drum about it?

Religious compulsion

In spite of the fact that the name of Islam has been contaminated by contemporary violence around the globe, I still believe that main stream Islam is for peace. Similarly, I think main stream Islam accepts the concept of non-compulsion in religion as mentioned in the Quran. The question I want to ask Malaysian Muslims is: why is apostasy treated with such severity in this country, subjecting apostates to state punishment and social ostracisms, not excluding threat to lives? Aren’t Malaysian Muslims in main stream Islam?

Article 11

The wordings in this article of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion to every person in this country are clear and unambiguous. There is no “if” or “but”. The only exception is the empowering of state legislatures to enact laws controlling or restricting the propagation of other religions to Muslims.

So, I don’t see any reason why Malays and Muslims in this country should not enjoy the same protection of the Constitution to have their religious freedom.

If indeed religious freedom is not meant for Muslims and Malays, wouldn’t our founding fathers and drafters of the Constitution have inserted words to this effect in this article?

Discrimination

Article 8 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or religion but makes exception to those within the ambit of “personal law”. Do the latter include religion? I leave it to people well versed in law to advance their opinions.

The answer to this question is relevant to the Lina Joy case, in that a negative answer would mean that NRD could not discriminate against Muslims by forcing them to declare their religious status in their IC while non-Malays are exempted from doing so. And that means it is illegal for NRD to reject Joy’s request to have the word “Islam” deleted from her IC.

“Religious precepts” and apostasy

The Constitution, under Article 74 (2), empowers state legislature to enact Islamic laws as prescribed in Schedule 9, among which is one pertaining to punishment for breaching “religious precepts” but with no mention of apostasy.

Is apostasy included in “religious precepts” for punishment? If it is, does it not contradict Article 11, rendering such legislation ultra vires the Constitution? If it is not, from where do the state legislatures derive its power to enact such apostasy laws?

Amendment to Article 121

In a country where almost half the population is non-Muslims, creating a Syariah legal system which has the appearance (though not in fact) of a parallel system on par with the civil courts is an invitation for trouble. And that is what the 1998 amendment to Article 121 has done.

Legal experts should be able to tell that these two systems are in fact not parallel (in fact they converge somewhere), neither are they on par. This is because, Syariah laws are enacted in the state assemblies, and the latter derived its law making power from the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. And who administers the Constitution? The civil courts, of course. So naturally when a Syariah law contradicts the Constitution, the civil court has to step in. So is the case when a Syariah court judgment conflicts with the Constitution – the civil court must over-rule the Syariah court judgment.

If that is the case, why should there be so much confusion and turmoil arising from Muslim vs non-Muslim legal conflicts. The problem lies with the wording of the amendment as well as the timidity of Muslim judges to adjudicate over issues involving Islam.

Take another look at the amendment, which is introduced through inserting the complete sub-clause (1A), which reads in full:

“The courts referred to in Clause (1) (meaning the civil high courts – insertion mine) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.”

Without qualifying the limitation to this division of jurisdiction, this sub-clause tends to mislead the reader who is not well versed in law into thinking that, Syariah courts have absolute jurisdiction over matters related to Islam even when their adjudication may come in conflict with non-Muslims’ constitutional rights or contradict fundamental provisions of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, even learned judges in the civil courts who are Muslims (who dominate our judiciary) also fall into this trap, therein lies the fermenting ground that gives rise to incessant inter-religious legal conflicts. It is no coincidence that in the Lina Joy case, both the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court return a 2 –1 verdict that splits along religious lines, with two Muslim judges voting against the lone non-Muslim judge. Though in this case, the split is influenced less by lack of legal knowledge than by religious sentiments.

Islamisation

The increasing phenomenon of Muslim judges abdicating their jurisdiction to Syariah courts, or lacking courage or intellect to deliver a verdict free of religion as called for by the Constitution can be traced to one major cause. And that is the trend of Islamisation that has set in since the early eighties.

There are indications that the fundamentalists have rapidly gained the upper hand under the weak leadership of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, (who ironically has advocated his pet Islam Hadhari to reverse the fundamentalist trend), as evident by the spate of suppression of discourse and dialogue promoting religious harmony such as the proposed inter-faith commission, Article 11, and the most recent abrupt cancellation of the World Christian–Islam dialogue, held annually since 9/11 and participated by top scholars of both faiths. These suppressions bear the unmistakable hallmark of religious intolerance, and bode ill for the future of this multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country.

The demographic make-up of this country is such that if Malaysia were to survive as a nation it has to overcome its ever worrisome religious and racial fault lines. But that may be a bit of wishful thinking under a decadent political power that is hell bent to exploit racial and religious fissures for its own political survival.


KIM QUEK is a retired accountant with an interest in current affairs.

8 Responses to “Religious reforms needed for peace and harmony”

  1. TanjungPetir Says:

    Yes, the inter-faith dialogue is extremely crucial in ‘keeping the lines of communications open’ amongst the religions. What one religion believes in the theological and spiritual sense is its own inherent right and prerogative. However, one crosses the line in the context of the 21st century, globalisation, and multi-ism when one asserts supremacy of religion in the POLITICAL sense. This is a recipe for discord, and potential conflict. Islam is the official religion, and notwithstanding my full and unequivocal support of the DAP, there’s no doubt that Malaysia is an Islamic state, albeit NOT fully-fledged one. In other words, Malaysia is BOTH an Islamic and secular State. This is the reality because in the eyes of Muslims, there’s no separation between religion and politics. An Islamic totalitarian order is the outworking of the will of allah.

    However, to assert supremacy is to promote Islam at the expense of the other races and religions, contrary to the Constitution. The Constitution recognises the official status of Islam and by extension, its *dominance*, i.e. all pervasive influence whilst at the same time recognises the full and complete right and freedom of others to practices their own religions. Just as there is no such thing as ketuanan melayu as per the Constitution, there is emphatically no such thing as islamic supremacy. islamic supremacy will only exist when Malaysia becomes a fully-fledged Islamic state where the ‘hukum hudud’ or whatever is the ultimate and overriding source of law.

    In summary, there can never be peace as long as religious and racial supremacy in the political sense is espoused. The job of the Malaysian Government notwithstanding the Quran is not to work towards the supremacy of islam, but as per according to the Word of God, punish evil-doers, maintain law and order, enforce contracts, ensure that the regulatory framework is in order and implemented, curb the excesses of the free market, ensure that the democratic process and space is in order, maintain the territorial integrity of the country’s borders, so on.

    The job of the government is NOT to conduct affirmative action using tax-payers money at the expense of the other races. The job of the government is not to bail-out GLCs and crony companies using tax-payers’ money. The job of the government is not to be in alliance with triads. The job of the government is not to preserve monopoly.

    At the end of the day, all religions are constitutionally speaking EQUAL.

  2. justiciary Says:

    Being a Chinese,I am lucky in the sense that I am not bothered with all the burdensome religious dos and donts.Life is short ,why let yourselves be bound by all the unrealistic and some antique rules and practices.We eat what we want to eat.But we feel uncomfortable when we eat others cannot eat.Sometimes some people may not feel comfortable when we serve them food or drinks with our utensils.Why?

    I think the authorities should strive to improve the national economy regardless of race and religion,to provide a secure society for everyone.

    Please give full attention to the well being of the people now and ignore the
    after life.After all what is after life?Which is more important?Life or after life.

  3. justiciary Says:

    We all know islamisation was initiated by TDM when he declared that Malaysia was an Islamic state in September 1992.I remember DAP had launched the 929 Anti Islamic state campaign around that time.Obviously religion has been used as a tool to harness and strengthen political power.More so when the country is dominated by one race and one religion.Actually I like to reminisce the grand old days when everyone of us,Ahmad,Ah Kow and Muthu can live and play together freely and comfortably.

  4. TanjungPetir Says:

    Justiciary,

    You have every right to your beliefs and everyone must respect that. Your agnoticism or atheism or free-thinking does NOT make you less Malaysian anymore does my adherence to a religion makes me mroe Malaysian.

    Having said this, religion or belief in a god/gods/goddesses/deity/deities is one of the fundamental features of Malaysia. The Rukunegara embodies kepercayaan kepada Tuhan. Islam represents the religious side of Malaysia co-existing in harmony ideally speaking with the secular. This is the reality of the Constitution. What we are against is supremacy and by extension imposing one’s views on others. It would inappropriate in lghit of that to ask the Malaysian Government to neglect religion as it is one aspect of nation-building, construction of a more just and equitable socio-economic order, etc. Again, what we are against is ‘fanaticism’ or rigid application of the religious or political ambitions which violate the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

  5. TanjungPetir Says:

    Yes, you’re right Justiciary. Seeds of mistrust and discord and so on are sowed by the politicians who easily use religion for their ends. the problem is when religion and politics become so enmeshed precisely because there is the conception that they are inseparable. If the UK, for example, or the US were to adopt such attitude, then there would be no islam or freedom to practice islam in these countries is severely restricted. Or there’ll just be war. I’m sure the US and UK would be deemed as the ‘aggressors’ because freedom for islam is not allowed there. But it is precisely this kind of mentality which leads to discord and strife. Malaysia may not have reached the stage yet … but the groundwork is being laid consciously or deliberately that is irrelevant, based on the principles of the *absolute* oneness of religion and state.

    Religion and State can united and reflect two aspects of Society but must never be to the detriment and harm of the greater good of the same Society. If it is, to the bloody hell with that principle!

  6. KSTAN Says:

    Jason, well said! I’ve just recently visited your blog and I find it most fascinating though I may have some reservations to your views and some partial concurrence to certain statements. Wasn’t able to read all your postings but I will definitely follow up later.🙂

    Cheers,

    KSTAN

  7. justiciary Says:

    what happens to my comment posted this morning?

  8. justiciary Says:

    Was it deliberately deleted?Can I have an answer?

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