Saturday, July 21, 2007

Is Malaysia an Islamic State?

Is Malaysia a secular or Islamic state?

malaysiakini Dr Chandra Muzzafar, former president of Aliran and former VP of PKR ;-) has this to say:

Malaysia is not a secular state within the conventional use of the term. Neither is it an Islamic state in the classical sense.

It is not a secular state since the Malaysian state formulates policies and organises activities from the building of mosques and the administration of the Hajj, on the one hand, to the establishment of Islamic schools and the dissemination of Islamic awareness through public broadcasting channels, on the other, which demonstrate that it is actively involved in sustaining and strengthening the position of Islam in society.

Judicial pronouncements and political utterances from the past which suggest that Malaysia is a secular state do not in any way negate the fact that the state has functioned in a non-secular mode, especially in the last three decades.

Nonetheless, for the majority of contemporary Muslim jurists, Malaysia is not an Islamic state since its constitution does not state that governance is based upon the Quran and Sunnah (the way of the Prophet Muhammad). Neither is syariah the supreme law of the land. Hudud (the Islamic criminal code) is not in force anywhere in Malaysia. These are legal and political attributes of state which are found in almost all those countries that are acknowledged as ‘Islamic’.

Hmmm, I am sure PAS would like to rectify the situation described in the above last paragraph. And this has been what PAS has been campaigning on. Initially it tried to appeal only to the Muslims, arguing that only a religious approach (PAS' approach, of course) under the direct banner of God (as prescribed by PAS, of course) the governance of the nation would be without corruption and injustice and all thw nasties that we have been plagued with.

When it realised some years back that it couldn’t wrestle power away from UMNO without convincing the non-Muslims to vote for it, it started a program to soften its conservative Islamic image. Its young Turks, who are more PR-savvy, courted non-Muslim voters with its promise of inclusiveness, non corruptibility and fairness. Even a Buddhist temple developing a large icon of Buddha in Kelantan was allowed with much fanfare to show PAS tolerance.

I am in support of such PAS inclusiveness but we are of course not yet under a PAS Islamic government. I still have doubts about its sincerity of inclusiveness because from time to time I have witnessed party leaders succumbing to their misogynist inclinations to come up with harsh conservative policies that are better suited in a medieval male-dominant society.

Take for example the harassment of working Muslim women in Kota Baru where religious police would hunt down those with ‘sexy’ clothing, like for god’s sake, jeans – or those without a tudung (female Islamic headgear).

Then the worst punishment for a Muslim woman who’s minus a tudung working at, say, a supermarket or shop counter, would be to suffer a fine of RM50 for improper dressing. How can these women afford the loss of such a princely sum? Where is the justice? In fact I dare say it's a form of corruption, namely to force people to do its will through threats of suffering (unaffordable financial loss).

In my posting 'Virtue' of Kelantan I wrote (extract only – for full post, see link in this same sentence):

Tan Swee Nan, a manager of a franchise outlet, said that the KB council has been bullying female workers on the dress code. She added that some of her Muslim co-workers were fined RM50 just for not wearing a tudung.

She averred:
“I know of female workers who run and hide when they see council enforcement officers on their rounds because they forgot to wear their tudung. There must be a practical approach.”

But under the KB Municipal dress regulations, Muslim women must wear dresses which cover their ankles and a tudung which covers the hair and forehead. Hmmm, what about poverty, unemployment, justice for the poor, flood control, illiteracy, etc?

Non-Muslims aren't spared either, providing us with a glimpse of PAS' intention under an Islamic State rule it proposes. The non-Muslim women (men excused) must wear outfits which do not expose the navel, or reveal cleavage (c'mon lah, Pak Haji!) or emphasise the buttocks (emphasised? Aren't buttocks ... er ... buttocks?)

They are banned from wearing body-hugging outfits, blouses which show the navel, see-through blouses, mini skirts and tight pants.

Therefore I have doubts about its promise of inclusiveness because in a non ultra religious society non-Muslim women may wear all those delightful body-hugging outfits, blouses which show the navel, see-through blouses (usually with bra, of course, stop being so hopeful), mini skirts and tight pants.

And then, its arguments of a virtually guaranteed Islamic utopia have been either naive or cynically driven by political expediency, if we take that mother of all Islamic nation, Saudi Arabia as an example, where there have been persecutions of minorities and utter corruption within its ruling clique.

And last year in Indonesia Golkar's religious affairs committee, which has responsibility for national moral issues, Yahya Zaini, was caught on video with his pants down, literally, with popular Indonesian singer, Maria Eva.

The lady is less than coy about her illicit relationship with Indonesia's 'morality' chief. She has admitted making the love-video but denied distributing it. Maybe she just wanted to watch it herself? ;-) See my posting
'Virgin' of Indonesia.

Great stuff this 'morality' stuff but we may assured of the usual cakap ta'serupa bikin, where it won't apply to the leaders.

To be continued ….. (next, UMNO)


  1. The noble theory of an Islamic state, and the practice of it, are unfortunately 2 very different things.

    Take PAS, for example, that has it's more progressive faction (the young turks you have mentioned), but is still by and large unable to (or maybe have no intention of) shake off the influence and shackles of the influential Ulama group.

    Similar with Iran, where the "Assembly of Experts" and "Council of Guardians" - consisting heavily of mullahs, exert strong influence over the Legislative body of Government. This would very likely be the model that PAS would implement if ever they were to gain power nationwide.

    A Legislative body that can get vetoed by a religious consultative body is not something that Malaysians would want to look forward to. At least, Walski hopes not...

  2. Whatever it is, if M'sia is now indeed an Islamic State as had been declared by UMNO(Najib speaks for UMNO), then, the kia-see Chinese voters should NOT vote for the BN as after all, previously, the Chinese had been frightened into blindly voting for the BN by the BN who wrongly accused the DAP of working in concert with PAS to create an Islamic state, even knowing very well that both DAP & PAS can never win enough seats to amend the Constitution!

    Pak Kadok