Friday, November 16, 2012

Road to hell

Recently, there was much ado about a letter to Malaysiakini by Steven Oh, where our world famous (but domestically infamous) Police wanted from the online news portal, details about that letter and its writer … or else.

Malaysiakini held on courageously to its policy of confidentiality on the identity of letter writers, which lamentably for our policed state ... with that ‘or else’ Damocles’ Sword hanging over MKINI’s head …  would have resulted in the seizure of its computer equipment, because our men in blue just love forensic IT and would go to any lengths to dabble in that discipline (the forensic science, not ‘police discipline’, wakakaka).

Sword hanging over Damocles' head

Fortunately, Steve Oh agreed to MKINI releasing his details.

The whole brouhaha was of course related to Nurul Izzah’s statement about ‘freedom of religion, even for Malays’ (or ‘no compulsion in religion’).

I believe she has since regretted making that impetuous statement ('impetuous' for a Malaysian Muslim, especially one from Pakatan), which in mitigation, was uttered in the adrenalin-flowing exuberance during a campaign forum.

We know that subsequently, a no-doubt panicking regretful Nurul attempted to neutralize her politico-social-religiously near-fatal faux pas by blaming it on Utusan, and even making a police report on it – wakakaka, now where did I hear this before, though I must say she has far greater credibility than Utusan.

Anyway, Siti Kasim, a member of the Bar Council human rights committee and Orang Asli rights advocate, the very person who asked Nurul that fatal question, had expressed her disappointment with Nurul for backing away from her statement, that of ‘freedom of religion, even for Malays’ (or ‘no compulsion in religion’), and opined the young politician had wanted to 'impress' her audience.

Siti Kasim had been right in saying that statement effectively translated - in the past tense of course as Nurul has since denied such a meaning - into Malay-Muslims having the right to leave the religion, or that dreaded word in Islam, commit apostasy.

Siti Kasim, having experienced the tap-dancing antics of Mr Manmanlai, lamented that Nurul has failed to stand firm on her remark.

But as I stated in an earlier post in mitigation of Nurul’s hypersonic back-pedalling:

… maybe Nurul indeed wanted to impress her audience but alamak, Siti, cut her some slack lah as Nurul is still young and really, a babe in the political woods. Besides, to a Muslim, apostasy is an extremely serious issue, in which the punishment could well be death, though of course the authorities in Malaysia won't go to that extent.

Okay,that brings us  back to Steve Oh’s letter to MKINI titled Nurul's watershed idea for the nation where he referred to Nurul’s “original” (wakakaka) statement with unrestrained glee, going on to wax eloquence over Nurul’s courage and brilliant perception, etc etc ad nausuem.

Alamak, this man didn't care that there was NOT even one teeny weeny itsy bitsy swallow for a summer make, wakakaka.

All this means that Steve Oh’s extravagant effusive ebullient praises for Nurul was a bit premature, because as we know, Nurul has backed away from that pro-apostasy statement pronto, and given Malaysia's draconian boleh-ness, we most certainly don’t blame her.

But Nurul's statement provided a wonderful springboard (titik tolak) for Steve-Oh's agenda-driven train, so how to stop it ler, wakakaka.

Thus, as if that religious freedom thingy was not bad enough, he used Nurul’s faux pas to commandeer a larger landscape than mere ‘freedom of religion’. Whether his points reflect his own sentiments or that of non-Malays are irrelevant because in his discourse he has screwed up Nurul’s position kau kau, and only succeeded in lending fuel to those out to get the poor girl.

Each time I read arguments by people like Steve Oh or some Church leaders or non-Muslims coming out to defend Nurul, I cringed even before she did, because I believe without any doubt that their secular or Western-Christian based arguments would rile many Muslims. No matter how brilliant and sincere their unwitting (perhaps even deliberate and opportunistic) arguments might be, they won’t move nor convince most Muslims.

Oxford Uni

Yes, their arguments would be excellent material for the secular debating halls of Oxford or Cambridge, but in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where our school of Sunni Islam, the Shafi’i Madh’hab, is highly conservative, they would sound offensive even to many liberal Muslims, who would be wondering in (at best) irritation: “… just who the f* are those unbelievers to lecture us Muslims on what’s right for us vis-à-vis our religion?”

Cambridge Uni

As RPK pointed out in his latest post Sending Mixed Signals:

If you were [to] ask a Muslim as to why Islam ‘interferes’ in the lives of the people, why they ‘police’ behaviour/morality, why they want to impose an Islamic system of administration and laws, etc., they will reply that this is because Islam is not a religion but a system of governance -- meaning a complete way of life (adeen, as mentioned in the Qur’an).

Using the Muslims’ own arguments, Islam is a total/complete political system that determines the administration and laws of the country. And that is why Muslims talk about an ‘Islamic State’ -- or, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, Malaysia is a Muslim country.

Hence, Islam is not merely a religion where you pray, fast, pay tithes, etc., and then go on and lead your own life without any interference from the government. Islam is a form of government -- it governs what you can and cannot do very strictly, even in the privacy of your bedroom.

… which automatically excludes the secular notion of freedom of religion.

I bet Nurul was last heard screaming to her dear hubby about the vocalizations (or written arguments) of Steve Oh and other non-Muslims supporters: “Why the la-li-da don't they shut the la-li-da up!” wakakaka.

Of course, don't mistake me, we should support her but without the sort of Steve Oh’s patronizing talk-down as exemplified by the following extract (which I have to admit I haven't read until only today):

I opined that the Malays have a right to be exposed to various ideas including different religions and I still believe that when the Malay mind is liberated from government control, then the country may soon see the enlightenment that Anwar Ibrahim wrote about in his book 'The Asian Renaissance'.

Bloke has not only made it worse for Nurul but also for her father wakakaka – yea, what a f* beaut of a statement that “Malays have a right to be exposed to ….. different religions”. Secularly okay but totally insensitive and f* intrusively crude in Muslim Malaysia. Just more ammo for UMNO, Perkasa and Utusan.

Malays are not inferior to the Chinese or anyone but after 55 years of feudalistic control by their political overlords, the system of political largesse has resulted in a government-sanctioned policy of treating Malays as inferior and needing special treatment and the government continues to labour this perception.

F* patronizing, isn't he?

States that practise religious or ideological control over citizens are like the communists that dictated what the people should believe. They failed miserably and their capitalism today can only succeed when the human spirit is free to soar.

He thought he was on a roll, so postulated effectively that Islam = communism? Wakakaka.

We are told Malay graduates fare poorly in the queue for jobs in the private sector and the finger can be pointed at the government's failed policy of racial segregation and producing what the employers consider an inferior product. Until meritocracy is practised the Malays will continue to suffer a bad image.

Sweeping every Malay down with one long bamboo pole. And just how the f* would this be related to ‘freedom of religion’ in Malaysia? Matey, there are totally f* up Christians in the Americas and Africa, and f* up Hindus in India and f* up people of other religions around the world.

Okay, I think I better stop here before reproducing more of his patronizing talk-down about Islam, Muslims and Malays set your blood boiling – aiyah, no need for solar-powered kettle one lah, wakakaka.

I opine one particular statement in his letter has really poisoned Nurul kau kau, namely: “So when I hear enlightened Muslims like Nurul Izzah talk sense, I feel there is hope for the truth to be vindicated.”

And just what is the 'truth' that has to be 'vindicated', according to the gospel of Steve Oh? I'm afraid you have to ask him because I don't know (but can only suspect).

In the 12th Century, Bernard of Clairvaux (later canonized as a saint), a French monk, who was the primary builder of the Cisterian Order, was reputed to have said “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

St Bernard

Of course being a French, he said it in his native tongue, “L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs", which means “hell is full of good wishes and desires”, and from there, we eventually get the well-known Anglicized “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

The point I want to make is that Steve Oh and other non-Muslim Malaysians should consider what St Bernard advised, that your good intentions (perhaps spiced with your personal agenda) are making matters worse for Nurul, paving a way for the poor young lady to a political-social-religious hell.

Steve Oh's letter has a long list of his dissatisfaction with (basically) discrimination and the lack of meritocracy in Malaysia. One can either agree or disagree with those points, and personally I would examine each carefully and without prejudice, but WTF man, there has to be a context within which he could voice them. Nurul's current besieged and politically precarious situation is most certainly not.

I read somewhere that Steve Oh is a Christian so perhaps he may wish to recall Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

My advice to those well-intentioned (or opportunistic) non-Muslims – shut the f* up and let PAS and blokes like Dr Asri (former Mufti of Perlis) do the mitigating for Nurul. They have more qualification, credibility, authority, impact and oomph to salvage her from her politico-social-religiously disastrous “freedom of religion even for Malays”.

It may well be that Nurul has quoted from the Quran, but that freedom had long been removed, especially and particularly in Malaysia, yes, our dear sweet Malaysia - please read on to understand what I mean.

And incidentally, on the word ‘watershed’, puhleeeze lah, Nurul's statement hardly qualifies to be described as such, because for a start, Pak Lah, our dear AAB, had made that same statement ages ago.

Now, what is the meaning of ‘watershed’? The dictionary defines it as, within the context of what we are now discussing, 'an important point of division or transition between two phases, conditions, etc'.

The real watershed on this issue happened many many years ago, sometime in 1986. This was what I wrote on 07 January 2006 in a post titled Article 121(1)(A) - What terrified the Civil Courts!

What is this controversy about Constitutional Article 121(1)(A) that we hear about so often this couple of weeks?

According to Malaysiakini, a former Syariah court judge Sheikh Azmi Ahmad claimed to have tried the case that led to the amendment of the Constitution and the insertion of Article 121(1)(A).

About twenty years ago, there was a bloke by the name of Abdul Rahim, a teacher, who challenged the syariah court’s power to prosecute him, because he said he was no longer a Muslim as he was practising the teachings of Qadiani, a Muslim sect in Punjab, India, founded by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

The teachings of this sect had been declared as deviant by the Malaysian Fatwa Council, therefore Abdul Rahim argued in court that if he was following a deviant religion, surely he must no longer be a Muslim and not under the jurisdiction of the syariah court.

Judge Sheikh Azmi Ahmad after hearing the teacher’s case, ruled that the syariah has jurisdiction over him as the fatwa (religious edict) alone did not necessarily render him an apostate. But Abdul Rahim took the matter to the civil High Court which granted him a decree that he was no longer a Muslim and therefore not bound under the syariah court. Mind you, in those days the civil courts still had balls.

That my dear Steve, was the watershed, the only one, and an earth-shaking one, regarding freedom of religion for Malay-Muslims. It carried the invincible legal imprimatur of the Malaysian High Court.

But wait, don't go into orgasm yet, wakakaka,  read on:

Anyway, the ruling caused a big panic because it meant that any Malaysian Muslim could just leave Islam by following a sect pronounced as deviant by the Malaysian Fatwa Council. Thus the government had the Constitution amended to include Article 121(1)(A) which states that the civil court has no jurisdiction on syariah matters.

A couple of things to note:

(1) the Article was meant to deal with matters affecting Muslims who wanted to leave Islam, like teacher Abdul Rahim, and not cases like Moorthy's where the religion of the deceased was still 'iffy';

(2) it was obvious the civil courts in Moorthy's case had 'forgotten' or refused to 'remember' this when after all the Article was only relatively recent, in 1988, and therefore should be well known as to what and why it had been inserted.

Malik Tabiaz (Imtaz), a human rights lawyer stated that such cross-religion cases like Moorthy's occurred on a regular basis, where civil judges nowadays avoided or even rejected them the moment they catch a whiff of Islamic issue in them.

And by the way, who was the "Islamic hero" who instructed former Attorney-General Abu Talib Othman to draft Article 121(A)(1) for insertion into the Constitution so that the door for Malays to legally leave Islam, as Cikgu Abdul Rahim did, would be slammed tightly shut?

Dr Mahathir Mohamad!


  1. steve oh / nurul are both master of psy-war.

  2. European start new era after 1516.

    OTH, Bolehland certain ethnics pave the road to de-evolution thanks to their emperor, no lesser degree than Mao during cultural revolution.

  3. Steve Oh sound like a borderline Anwarista.

  4. Ever heard the song about Hotel California ?
    You can check out but you can never leave ....that's Islam in Malaysia.
    I had to settle in Australia to truly be rid of the suffocating religious noose. Even then, when I'm back in Malusia visiting my aged parents, I have to pretend to be still a Muslim. My parents know the truth , but I have no wish to embarrass them in front of others.

  5. Change is the only constant in the universe. Humanity has no choice but to reject ALL dogma's (in whatever form) that stifle the evolution of the species. All religion is man made and man manipulated for political purposes.

    Politics is the only human endeavour that exists solely to control another person's mind and no one can run away from it in this age and time.

    Each of us owes it to our next generations to speak up for the truth. Any claims of a revealed scripture must be backed up with empirical evidence and the onus of proving it is on the claimant not society as a whole. That is standard of measure we must set for ourself.

    So if I believe that Johnny Walker Black Label is the next Messiah I must provide empirical evidence to my claim if I want you to accept it.

    Failing that I can only imbibe the pleasures of a dry scotch in the company of like minded people, and the right for me to get drunk on my Messiah is solely mine. I don't have the right to make anyone else go through all the mind numbing experiences the morning after.

    Karl Mark was spot on when he said " Religion is an opiate for the masses". It makes a 21st century educated person believe that 7th century communal desert politics are relevant to us in this age and time.

  6. Anonymous 8:55 PM, November 16, 2012

    You meant Hotel Caliphfornia didn't you?


  7. Good write though you put too many points. I do not agree with you on all points but your analysis are respectable. Just one issue I think you've glossed over. You've mentioned that the apostacy issue is of Umno doing. I think this analysis is very shallow and miss the point. For non Muslims to understand, they must understand the Islamic epystymology is very different from secular epystymogy. In Islam everything emanates from the believe in god and thus the Quran Sunnah etc. It's from this basis we have treatises of hundreds of years old on this issue. The logical flow of thoughts emanates from here.
    Thus In order to overcome apostacy issue, changing Umno will not resolve it. It must be argued based on the same epystymology which many don't grasp. In order to argue you say cannot simply pick judeo Christianity scriptures or argue on Kant, Locke, Hart etc. you must argue with the Islamic recognised sources and by reasoning you may may allude to those philisophical underpinning. The argument that the verse "there is no compulsion" applies to Muslims is too simplistic and lead to other inconsistencies. It would for example goes against the very grain of PAS raison dtre that apostacy is the highest crime in hudud. Steven oh is blinkered in this. Soo too many non Muslims who think there is no rational in this issue and thus like a cow being led by Umno. That's why simpleton argument like this does not help. It's a pure partisan statement. Take a step back. Understand and empathize. Once you do this you can understand and provide effective solutions.

  8. ellese, good 'food for thought'. personally i doubt what a non Muslim opinion could help in issue like this when even muslim never share a common consensus. however my question is being malaysian, do steve oh were entitled to opine himself in matter relating to islam when we are not an entirely secular, and islam is our official religion where our daily lives and activity were shaped and affected by Islam?

    i dun have a stand yet, but i think some of the advice given by the likes of petra n kt is sort of contradiction, they expect the non malay / non muslim to move forward but not too forward, they trying to draw a line which they themselve are not clear where is the optimum point, thus opt and resort to criticise, i dont think this work.

  9. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It may appear to be hellish for Nurul now but I believe that, like Rosa Parks, she and Siti Kassim would be instrumental in kick-starting the deliverance of the Malaysian Malays from the stifling hold of religion.

    One will never be truly free when one is not given the basic right to believe and disbelieve. As the Sudanese scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im has said, “If I don’t have the freedom to disbelieve, I cannot believe.” No one could truly justify and reconcile the action of criminalising apostasy. It would indeed be a road to hell if there is no freedom to disbelieve. It would be a vicious cycle all the way until society breaks down. Of course, we cannot expect those in control to relinguish their hold on the Muslims in general and the Malays in particular.

    If only the Islamic authorities are more secure in their faith to get around this catch 22 situation and work towards creating an Ummah confident enough to allow true freedom of belief. Only then can Muslims truly profess the faith and recite the Syahadah with full conviction without any nagging thoughts that they are forced to. I look forward to the day when all Muslims are given that choice as all others have been given. When that day dawns, they would indeed be turning around and taking the stairway to Heaven.


  10. HuaYong,

    Regrettably you didn't read my post carefully/thoroughly. I did not say Steve Oh and others shouldn't express their opinions on issues affecting Malaysia and Malaysians per se.

    I only emphasized that whatever needs to be said should have and be in context. In other words, when Nurul is in shit with the ulamaks, it's hardly helpful for a non-Muslim to come out to say she's a great Muslim for effectively saying it's okay for a Muslim to leave Islam.

    CONTEXT or, as we are told by Ecclesiastes 3:1, ... To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

  11. KT, i did read your post carefully. you didnt read my comment in the same manner. You premised on political context (nurul) while mine is from a non-Muslim pov wrt OUR official religion, or to be precise, a Malaysian pov wrt OUR official religion. My question might have something to do with the current debate of Malaysia being a secular or not secular state.