Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Islamization of Malaysia

Malaysia-Today - Is Malaysia a secular or Islamic state? It depends

from Asian

Yawnnnnn, that was my initial reaction to the guest columnist's article in RPK's M2D. But after coming across a distressful news report I changed my mind and decided on this post.

What troubled me was a report that in Syariah-governed Pakistan, a man and his wife poured acid on their daughter's face and body, yes their own daughter, because the young sweetie had talked to a boy. 

The local doctor who examined her corpse said “There were third-degree burns on her scalp, face, eyes, nostrils, both arms, chest foot and lower part of legs. Even her scalp bone was exposed.”

And the cowardly parents didn't even have the 'honour' to admit to their 'honour killing', lying through their teeth their daughter had committed an unIslamic suicide.

another case of the oxymoronic 'honour killing'

No doubt some Malaysians would react defensively by arguing that oxymoronic 'honour killing' had nothing to do with Islam or Syariah or Hudud, and was just a local tribal custom, in similar mode to the defensive argument by a Malaysian in Malaysiakini some years ago about the horrific 'honour rape' of Muktaran Bibi. For more of the disgusting barbarous lustful 'honour rape' see my earlier posts:

Musharraf's attitude towards 'honour rapes', postulating Paki women had themselves raped for monetary gain, was unspeakably lamentable, especially as he was the President of a Syariah-governed nation. Unbelievably he told the Washington Post that the rape victims had sinister intentions, for by getting themselves raped, they could make money and even become a millionaire, get a visa and migrate to Canada.

We have  been informed that almost 1000 Paki women lost their lives last year in the so-called 'honour killings'. And if you wonder why such injustice recurs with regularity in a Syariah-governed country, perhaps the pathetic attitude of its former President towards such crimes might be indicative.

I wonder whether such a mafulat misogynistic mentality matches that of PAS MP for Rantau Panjang (prior to 2008), Abdul Fatah Harun, who during a parliamentary session in April 2006 enlightened us with his Weltanshauung (world-view) that “If we see women who don’t have husbands and are divorced not because their husbands are dead, (it must be because) they are ‘gatal sikit’.”

The Malaysian word ‘gatal sikit’ (sedikit) literally means ‘a little itchy’ (colloquially referred to as 'being itchified’) but really, is an euphemism for being lascivious or wanton.

When a swarm of protesters bollocked him for his crude prejudice, he qualified himself with “I said most women. I didn't say all women. Most of the women who have divorced are gatal.”

Well, that explains! It’s only most women, not all women. Thank God!

But with people like Musharraf and Abdul Fatah Harun, you wonder whether Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) should have reconsidered entry qualifications for those wanting to embrace Islam.

But that annual 1000 deaths by 'honour killings were only in Pakistan. There were also reported cases of 'honour killings' in Lebanon, Jordan and many other Islamic nations, etc, and even in their western abodes.

Continuing on the issue of rape, I recall a case in Saudi Arabia in 2007 when a 19-year old Shiite woman, referred to as the 'Qatif girl', was abducted and gang-raped by 7 Sunni men, and believe it or not, then sentenced by the Saudi Syariah court to 6 months jail and 200 lashes of the Islamic whip.

Yes, the rape victim was punished. Maybe the Saudi Syariah court believed her 'gatal-ness' was more than 'sikit', hence the severe punishment.

'Promotion of virtue'? Did the Saudi Syariah court show any iota of virtue in punishing a rape victim?

Okay, I hope you have recovered from that gob-smacked piece of unbelievable shocking news, because I'm carrying on.

In the initial trial she was given 90 lashes but on appeal her lashings were increased by more than double as a punitive measure because her case was reported in the Western media - great juridical judgement and message to the girl by the Saudi Syariah court, wasn't it?

In fact she was warned that any further appeals would see her sentences increased.

However her Sunni rapists were not sentenced to death as per the standard Saudi penalty for rape, because the Syariah court in its infinite wisdom stated there was 'lack of witnesses' and the 'absence of confessions', though I fail to understand why in those absence of evidence the court still jailed them for a couple of years - a sentence totally inconsistent with their own judgement of non availability of corroborative evidence - yes, we might as well conclude that it's another great juridical judgement by the Saudi Syariah court.

One cannot but help get the impression that in Saudi Arabia, Sunni men could bonk Shiite women with near impunity, and would only be sentenced to death if they raped Sunni women? Hardly surprising when Saudi Arabia considers the Shiite fellow Muslims are far greater enemies than Israelis. So much for Muslim fraternity.

Back to my point and the thrust of my post - Tribal or no tribal custom, the Paki and Saudi cases, especially the former, all took place under the umbrella of Syariah jurisprudence, proving consistently and beyond any doubt that Syariah law is no guarantee for justice or a crime-free society.

And it's not because Allah's law is not perfect but fundamentally, because His Muslim cleric-judges most certainly aren't. And don't we in Malaysia know that just too well.

We have many of those (very much less than exemplary) Muslim clerics, one who even fabricated a dangerous and highly inflammatory tale about a Christian church in Perak converting Muslims, then sms-ing his followers to rush to the church to stop a non-existent proselytizing of Muslims, and when proven wrong in his seditious act, cowardly blamed it on his female accomplice, a ball-less act not unlike the Paki parents who cold-bloodedly killed their teenage daughter and claimed she committed suicide.

Was he arrested and charged with sedition? Nope, instead he was made a Tan Sri.

Another of his colleague-wonders also narrated a long, tall and hairy tale of solar-powered al Kitab's doing insidious subversive proselytizing work among Muslims. I wonder whether he's praying for an ellipse of the sun?

Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir had once lamented in her Star column (as best as I can recall, in my own words) that one of Malaysia's deficiencies has been the poor educational level of the government's Islamic clerics. That's right, not every cleric is an erudite well-learned Dr Mohd Asri (former Perlis Mufti),  a rare avis in Malaysian Islamic community.

Dr Asri

Thus I wasn't surprised at all to read of the pathetic behaviour of some religious department officers during the infamous Zuok nightclub raid, where those moral police immorally forced the young sweeties caught in the nightclub to pee in the open in front of their hot, hungry, lustful and ogling eyes. No doubt those religious department officers were diligently scrutinizing those wayward women for any deviant behaviour, for example, like peeing while standing up.

Their boorish bad behaviour is guaranteed to happen again because the system provides near unbridled power to officials who lack knowledge in depth, intellectual capacity or good character to handle such authority. Abuses are likely to occur when power is not moderated by knowledgeable and scrupulous responsibility.

While injustices and crimes exist also in secular states, the sort of barbarism and blatant injustices just described in the above Syariah-governed states (or at the Zuok nightclub) won't have a snowflake chance in hell (or at least very little chances) of ever occurring in mature secular democracies like Australia, New Zealand, Canada or Britain [sorry, I can't include the USA yet].

What then do the above evidence of injustice, cruelty, abuses and barbarism in Syariah-governed land tell us about PAS’ promise that adoption of the rule of Syariah will stop endemic social decadences and rampant injustices.

Forgive me if I find it hard to believe them.

I rather believe that our only defence against the insidious subversion of God’s laws into an unacceptable clerical-centred ‘God only proposes but it’s Man (the cleric) who disposes’ is the strengthening, upholding and non-negotiable protection of the secular Constitution and the civil courts (warts and all).

Syariah-hudud laws will only over-empower (to unacceptable quantum) the Muslim clerics, people such as Hasan Ali, Harussani, and Azizan Abdul Razak and his now inviolable, unquestionable, and ominously all-powerful fatwas.

It'll also enable people like Nasrudin Hasan to intrude into and interfere with non-Muslim events such as Valentine’s Day, entertainment concerts/shows and god-knows-what-else with absolute impunity.

What a frightening, terrifying, horrendous thought for non-Muslims to have to swallow Nasrudin's brand of moralizing!

Even grandfatherly and much-loved Pak Haji Nik Aziz had not too long ago call for the death sentence for (single?) mothers who abandoned their babies, without even evaluating and considering the socio-religious circumstances which forced them to do so.

He then shocked us by stating that illicit (unmarried) lovers should be stoned to death.

Stoned to death?!

In Malaysiakini’s Karpal locks horns with Nik Aziz over baby dumping, Karpal Singh said that the Pak Haji was too harsh - Bhai you're telling me. F* I can't get over it, proposing such a medieval punishment of stoning people to death!

It's bad enough to have capital punishment without that Middle-Eastern inhuman speciality, which is best left to the Arabs and Israelis (remember “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her”?).

When we leave the laws of the country in the unaccountable hands of clerics, who would of course claim they speak in the name of or on behalf of God and therefore cannot be questioned (and it’s a universal trait, not exclusive to any religion), we are immediately at their tender mercies, prejudice and vested interests, as was the Shiite ‘Qatif’ rape victim in Saudi Arabia.

Most politicians who include religion, any religion, as part of their political platforms are only interested in exploiting the religious beliefs of voters for their personal vested (political) interests. Thus I am a firm believer in separation of State from Church.

But ironically, it would be the ‘true believers’ among the followers of those political leaders who frequently exploit religion for political gains that pose the greatest danger to justice, compassion and civility.

anti-Arab rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu investigated for racism

US pastor Terry Jones and his burn-Koran campaign

US Evangelist-politician Pat Robertson
claimed Hinduism is demonic and Islam satanic, and
Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment against US abortion policy,
called for assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

When these ‘true believers’ enthusiastically and zealously implement what they (sincerely but incorrectly) believe their leaders wanted them to do, invariably beyond the call of normal duties, their political leaders would suddenly find they no longer have control over what/whom they have let out of Pandora’s box ...

... not unlike what happened when King Henry II was reputed to have cried out "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" and four of his knights interpreted that as his wish to have Thomas Becket killed, and they carried that out. 

murder of Thomas Becket

Dr Mahathir had changed the status of secular Malaysia into an Islamic nation for his political purpose, namely, to outflank PAS in the Heartland, and no doubt thought it was a brilliant political move. Maybe it was, but I wonder what he now thinks of his zealots taking that politically-convenient status of his making beyond what he must have envisaged … or probably had wanted.

For example, I wonder whether he realizes that under his regime's Islamization policies, non-Muslim personnel in the Armed Forces on parade were forced to participate in Muslim styled prayers, which prior to that were only conducted by the Royal Malay Regiment, and not the RMN, RMAF and non-RMR army units?

Those non-Muslims were compelled to hold their hands in the Muslim form of supplication to Allah during parade prayers, like what non-Muslim school children had suffered during school weekly morning parades under the proselytizing policies of a former UMNO Education Minister, someone who was once very much favoured by Dr Mahathir, wakakaka. And may the bells in the Hindu temples ring to remind us of that.

Distressed parents of those suffering school children complained to the deaf ears of that Education Minister who glibly retorted that such hand gestures were of universal values. If so, then why not a Thai-styled wai, which not only has even greater universal appeal as a gesture of respect but would be more in tune with Malay culture?

And just how many of those non-Muslim soldiers, sailors or airmen had complained about being forced to raise their hands in doa fashion, we would never know because communications within the Armed Forces on sensitive or embarrassing issues could be and undoubtedly were contained under security classification, or dismissed away as nothing more than military parade procedures?

Then, under AAB’s regime we saw the Royal Malaysian Police copycat-ing the military, requiring its non-Muslim female officers to don tudung headgear during parade, on the argument they would then present a uniformly dressed rank and file.

Bull! Because prior to this pathetic excuse for unnecessary and insensitive Islamization of uniforms affecting non-Muslims, did Sikhs in their magnificent turbans on formal parade for the last hundred years ever present anything significantly non-uniformed and out of place to the rest of their non-Sikh colleagues on parade?

There's no doubt Malaysia's official Islamization programs can, will and indeed have already affected non-Muslims, in many cases against their agreement, will and liking. Thus non-Muslim Malaysians justifiably have every right to speak out on this issue.

But most discouragingly of all, I notice a number of politicians claiming to represent Islam were unable to take the heat of robust political debates, and would seek cowardly or convenient escape by resorting to threatening behaviour when they lack the intellectual-political ability to handle dissenting views or beliefs.

One had even shown he was more than willing to illegally gate-crash a meeting to disrupt its proceedings, which he astonishing as a lawyer did, just because he didn't agree with the event.

In 2006, even KL city authorities could charge a Chinese couple for kissing in a park, but the victims, who didn't deny kissing, informed that they were charged ONLY after they refused to pay bribes to two city hall officials. If true, then it was a disgusting vindictive misuse of (in the first place) an unacceptable moral standards to cover up for nefarious purposes!

But Barack Obama has the correct words for such abuse of power.

Indeed, the future must not belong to those who (misuse, abuse, exploit and thus) slander Islam.

More importantly, all these infringements on non-Muslim Malaysian rights are uneasy portent of things to come should those unaccountable clerics and their minions ever rise to power in Malaysia.

As G Vinod wrote in Free Malaysia Today's Hudud will affect non-Muslims, quoting Hindu Sangam president RS Mogan Shan:

When we go to the civil courts, they say they have no jurisdiction on Syariah matters. Even when we decide to go to the Syariah court, they could not hear our case because we are non-Muslims. Even Syariah lawyers refuse to take our case because we’re not Muslims. So where are the non-Muslims to go? 

The FMT's article continued as follows:

Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara vice-president Premasilaka KD Serisena said that it was ridiculous that politicians were considering to implement hudud on top of the existing legal system.

“Let’s look at it from a common sense perspective. Hudud is a criminal justice system and with its implementation, you are creating a dual criminal justice system.

“My question here is, what if a non-Muslim rapes a Muslim? Or Muslim commits a crime against a non-Muslim? Which system are you going to use? It’s ridiculous,” he said.

He added that it was simplistic for anyone to assume that a criminal would only commit crimes against a person of his own religion.

Those are also my concerns. Thus we must have separation of State from Church as was clearly annunciated by our founding fathers.


  1. Absolute power, corrupt absolutely. All corrupted using the name of religion, nationalism, patriotism.

    Or wait, can you find the Malay word equivalent to corruption? Nope.

    OTH, Indonesian scholar discover deficiency in Malay language to describe corruption,thus they coin the word "Korupsi". And Bolehland "scholar" still refuse admit corruption within the culture, and continue buried their head inside the sand.

  2. KT said "... And may the bells in the Hindu temples ring to remind us of that..."

    So there you have it - the reason for his regular postings showing his hatred of Anwar.

    It refers to the incident in Kampong Rawa in Penang some decades ago.

  3. Will Malaysia join the Club of Doom ?

    This outcome of the coming GE13 is crucial for the future of this country. And the following 2 years after this election will be the years to watch closely.......

  4. It's funny that many called themselves Malaysians but don't even know our constitution. Our constitution is not secular separating state and religion. It not only recognize Islam as official religion but also recognize Islamic courts, administration and most importantly Islamic legal jurisdiction. Anyone who argues this is secular better do one basic thing: bloody read the constitution.
    Whether we're Islamic state depends on the interpretation of Islamic state which has varied definition. One interpretation is that It fundamentally Requires the state to be governed by Muslims. Mahathir adopted this and called us Islamic State. In substance it's the same as DAP secular state. Both dap and bn here are ridiculously fighting over semantics.
    The other definition of Islamic state is a state governed by Muslims and Islamic law in particular hudud as espoused by PAS. This is different from BN Islamic state and DAP Secular state.
    But people are gullible partisan confused and afraid of the term Islamic. Thus we have many blinkered ignorant comments and write.
    I think it's about time that those who are against Islamic state but support PAS to shut up. PAS will never give up this ideological issue. And don't write you're against bn conception of Islamic state because there's no difference with DAP definition of secular state. You can't say you object on one hand and at the same time push those who support your opposed views. You know you can put to rest this issue by not pushing for PAS. But because of power you're willing to compromise. And since you've compromised please shut up. Dahlah tak baca constitution but now object because of what you do. Enough.
    Ps. Another thing is please don't relate non related items to Islamic state. What has doa and uniform to do with Islamic state. This issue will persists even under dap conception of secular states as its a Muslim observance. DAP has never argued its unconstitutional. Are you saying it is? What's your ground? Forget the Islamic state. Use our current constitution. Which provision does it infringe? If none, it has nothing to do with Islamic state.

  5. Ellese, you are incorrect in stating Malaysia's official religion is Islam. Syahredran Johan, the Bar Council constitutional law committee chief, said that is a gross misinterpretation, pushed principally by Utusan Malaysia. The Constitution does NOT carry the word "official".

    I now quote from TMI

    “In terms of the Federal Constitution, there’s only one religion for the federation, no official or unofficial. The Constitution is clear on this. Islam is not the official religion,” he said to The Malaysian Insider when contacted yesterday.

    He cited Article 3 as stating “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation” and pointed out the word “official” was nowhere in the provision.

    Syahredzan said that section of the constitution must be interpreted together with Article 11, which states “Everyone has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4)’ — which is on Islam — ‘to propagate it’”.

    “We need to understand the correct terminology to be used when we say anything about the Federal Constitution,” he said, and added “everyone, from ministers to NGOs to bloggers have been claiming all sorts, which goes to show they do not know what is in the Federal Constitution”.

    He observed that by inserting the extra word into the Constitution, the bloggers, ministers and newspaper were reading things that are not there and changing the law.

    “And that’s unconstitutional,” the lawyer insisted.

    Take his advice and not read into the Constitution what's NOT there, for your reading then becomes unconstitutional ;-)

  6. Kaytee,after a long absence I tuned in and find that you have gone to visit the polars.Now just out of curiosity to check if you have finally decided to settled at the Noth or South Pole,you are back again,and as usual old habits die hard.The very very long articles again.Nice to see you back again.Cheers.

  7. In my country, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the constitution specifically says
    "Islam is the Official religion of the Republic"
    "No law or government regulation which is repugnant to Islam, the Holy Quran and the Sunnah shall be enacted" and "existing laws shall be aligned with the principles of Islam".
    It also gives the defining authority whether any law or civil and government regulation/ action is contrary to Islam as the Federal Shariat Court.

    That is the true mark of an Islamic state.

    My country is a failed or failing state (depending on who you talk to). How much of it is a consequence of the strict Islamisation of all the entire government and national institutions is debatable, but I dare say it is definitely a factor.

    Malaysia is still a relatively prosperous country, and not yet on that self-destructive path which my country took.
    Please, please learn from our mistakes...

    I am, by the way, a practicing Muslim who doesn't believe that religion is a workable basis for effective government.

  8. You must be joking to quote Syahredzan. Please quote eminent jurists in constitutional law. For that matter can you quote one constitutional law book by Syahredzan.

    I'll take a layman approach. The argument you put forth is that we are secular separating state and religion. By quoting article 3 Of the federal constitution everyone can see that you're contradicting yourself already. This is before presenting articles on Islamic courts administration and jurisdiction. So let's put to rest the dumb argument that our constitution is secular in separating religion and state.

    Now let's go to the language of the constitution. I will not even touch the history behind this article. The venerable Tun Suffian said that based on the pre and post British era, "it's not therefore surprising when the constitution by article 3 provides that Islam is the religion of the state".

    I want everybody to use their own brains. In law every word has a meaning. Article 3 says "Islam is the religion of the federation but....."

    What does it mean by religion of the federation. Hmm !! the head of state must be the sultan who must necessarily be Islam. He is the protector of Islam in this country and our constitution make it impossible even if all reps are dap to amend this without their consent. Now how do we conduct his appointment as our king and head of state?. Can we adopt Islamic practices like doa and recitation in official appointment. What about the official emblems and insignias of our head of state and nation? Can we use Islamic crescent to signify him and Malaysia? Of course we can coz Islam is the religion of Malaysia.

    So just think lah a bit. Read proper books and history. Don't read rubbish TMI as a source. I can go on and on to show its not secular. And By the way please lah quote eminent jurists. Even then weved been trained to be critical. So don't give me this bull that I don't know my constitutional law. Argue me with the source and points and not by personality. Now tell me again what does it mean that "Islam is the religion of the federation"?

  9. First, you claimed Islam is the "official" religion of Malaysia, hoping to get away with your "creativity". When I prove you incorrect by quoting Syahredan Johan you move away from your previous claim and attempt to diminish Syahredan's knowledge. Between him, the Bar Council constitutional law committee chief, and you, guess who I prefer to listen to.

    My other point is you should avoid using rude words to describe others' views. That's a loser's attitude.

  10. Is England a Christian State ? After all, they have a Queen who is the Head of the State, the Head of the Armed Forces, and the Head of the Church of England.

    Malaysia was once colonised by the Brits and no prizes for guessing why our Constitutional Monarchy's duties and responsiblities (in the main) are strikingly similar to that of the Queen of England. And for 5 decades ever since independence our laws are that of the civil commonwealth laws.

    If we are an islamic state, we ought to be one right off in 1957 and our 2 former prime ministers wouldn't have stressed time and again we are a secular state. Just because Dr M for his own political conveniece announced unilaterally that it is an islamic state, does not automatically make our country an islamic state. During his time, he can get away with declaring anything and no one dares to dispute him; and even if any one dares to, there's no internet then......

    That is why today, there's a lot of discussion on this when the UMNO starts to raise this issue again what with the GE round the corner, because we now could just go to our computers to weigh in and there's lots of legal experts who could now freely give their views without needing to worry if they need to cool their heels in the Bamboo River.

  11. In an Islamic state, there shouldn't be a Gentings casino, horse race betting, 4D, beer breweries, alcoholic drinks freely available, bank interest for FD and savings etc isn't it?

  12. In this secular or Islamic state argument, maybe you can take Helen Ang's criteria of a secular state :

    Sebuah negara sekular akan mempunyai ciri-ciri berikut:

    . Badan-badan keagamaan diasingkan daripada urusan negeri
    (The separation of the religious orders from the state)

    . Negara bersikap neutral dalam hal-hal agama
    (Neutrality of the state in religious matters)

    . Negara memberi layanan yang setara kepada setiap/semua agama
    (Equal treatment by the state of different religions)

    . Agama adalah merupakan suatu perkara peribadi yang tidak bertindih dengan ruang awam
    (Religion being a matter of the private sphere which is strictly separated from the public sphere)

  13. separation of State and Church means more than that - it's not just the "negara" (state) that has the onus to KEEP OUT of and not meddle in religious matters but the Church is equally required to stay out of politics.

    Ideally, no religious order can form political parties or use religion as its platform, but unfortunately this is generally not enforced even in secular nations. Hypothetically if we enforce this, PAS and HINDRAF would be illegal.

  14. There's nothing creative here. I gave you various examples for official functions emblems and procession where we adopt Islam. Similarly with proceedings in parliament etc. That's one the most liberal
    interpretation. The more strict interpretation is to adopt Islam as the law of the land interpretation like in some pre merdeka day reported cases.

    Just use a bit of sense and you know Syah's argument is gobbledygook. Ask your self what "religion of federation" means. Simple.

    Anyway no lawyer reading law will refer to Syah. There's many head of bar consti In the past but can't even recall one whose an aurhority. So check your sources.

    On castigating people's with different opinion, please look at your write. You talk down on people's integrity and intellectual ability when they opposed you. So stop calling a kettle black.

    Now don't divert. This is my second/third time asking similar question. How in the world that based on our constitution in particular article 3 can it be justified as secular separating state and religion?

  15. Anon 1:14

    The issue of Islamic state arose simply because of PAS. In the future it will continue to dominate politics as its Pas' raison dtre. Umno Islamic state and dap secular state concepts are in substance the same.

  16. Malaysia is a hybrid Islamic/secular state. As the constitution does not state clearly whether it is Islamic or secular, this open-ended status have led to politicians interpreting to their advantage. Malaysian Muslims are subject to Islamic laws in their daily lives, but not so the non-Muslims. For example, a man having 2 wives is breaking the law if he is non-Muslim, but is perfectly legal practice if he is a Muslim. Two opposite interpretations of the same thing.

    So it is not a case of either black or white concerning our status of secular or Islamic Malaysia.