The Kelantan State Religious Affairs committee chairman Hassan Mahamood, who is the PAS member for Tawang, said the PAS-led State government has been unhappy with the conversion rate of the orang asli (aborigines), who are prime targets for both Islamic and Christian missionaries. For our overseas readers, PAS is the State ruling Islamic party.
He indicated that the latest figures for the past five years saw only 2,904 of some 3,000 orang asli in Gua Musang and Jeli districts, embracing Islam on their own free will.
I wonder why he’s disappointed when the conversion rate is over 95%. Maybe he’s an idealist?
Anyway, as part of the State government’s strategy to increase conversion to Islam among the orang asli, it wants to encourage marriages between Muslim preachers (male and female) and orang asli (women and men respectively). Thus the Muslim cleric must pioneer the implementation of the conversion strategy.
Now, this strategy is not new as the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM) had done the same thing during the Malaysian Emergency. The insurgents were ordered to marry orang asli women in order to become members of the tribes. By doing so, they effectively denied security forces access to aborigine intelligence or even tracking assistance, as the orang asli didn’t want to betray their ‘tribesmen’.
However, the Kelantan government has a motivational plan, offering a lump sum of RM10,000, free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a fixed monthly allowance of RM1,000 to each Muslim preacher who marries an orang asli woman (or man, if the preacher is female). These are very generous rewards.
However, he was a bit coy about such marriages making the orang asli women as second or third wives of the preachers. Hassan said it depended on the individual, which KTemoc takes as ‘it’s OK’.
I wonder whether this motivational scheme would corrupt the intentions of the preachers who would then be marrying for material rewards rather than missionary love or care. And I wonder whether the reward scheme applies to the layperson.