Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin must have taken offence at the Malaysian authorities’ actions against Dr Zakir Naik.
Asri is known to be a strong supporter of the fugitive, who has fallen from grace since his Kelantan tour, and who is now banned from speaking in public by the Malaysian authorities.
Asri expounded his bigoted views that there must be a dominant race when it comes to Malaysia’s national identity. After receiving brickbats, especially from East Malaysians, he has stepped into another land mine.
He is now saying that Malaysia needs a dictator like Saddam Hussein.
His emotional rant against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership is going from bad to worse. Saddam is probably the worst example you can find of someone to run a country. He was a leader who would not hesitate to kill his opponents.
Asri said it was time that authorities rein in leaders from among the minority communities who question the Malay dominance in an attempt to undermine the country’s national character. I wonder who Asri is referring to when he speaks of minority communities. His poems against Hindus in April 2017 may give us a clue.
In his latest salvo, he defended his statement about the dominant race. After his earlier remarks that Malaysia belongs to the Malays, and that Malaysia’s national identity is Malay, Asri said Malays are “landowners” of the country who must be respected.
His statements smack of racism and are similar to Donald Trump’s white supremacist ideology which is gaining traction within the right-wing with support from the Republican party.
Many Malaysians, East Malaysians in particular, have slammed Asri’s polemics and political views which are not consistent with the concept of Malaysia.
As a mufti, he should stay out of politics and not make political statements which could disturb the harmony between races. Talking about a dominant race by population size is fine, but talking about a dominant race and its associated connotations can be dangerous.
There are many examples in history of a dominant race that went wrong, like the Nazi Germany ideology of the Aryan master race.
East Malaysians are appalled by the idea of “Malay” domination and would prefer that “Malayness” in all aspects of governance be confined to Peninsular Malaysia.
The Malays don’t own all the land in Malaysia, certainly not in the Borneo states. If they do, we will need proof of title.
Like Newton’s third law, when you start the idea that Malaysia belongs to the Malays, you will get an equal and opposite reaction.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently expressed disapproval for the use of the slogans “Sabah for Sabahans” and “Sarawak for Sarawakians”. He felt that the labelling of Malaysians according to individual territories is not good for the nation.
Once you start the idea of a dominant race like Asri’s, others will follow and develop their own spheres of influence within a territory.
It’s a defensive posture in an animal kingdom and will be a never-ending story. The ideologies of a dominant race are divisive, sow seeds of discontent, and drive a bigger wedge between races.
No one disagrees that the Malays form the bulk of the Malaysian population and dominate all aspects of society, from rulers, the official religion, the armed forces, police, the civil service, and the Bumiputera affirmative action policy.
But why do you need to talk about a dominant race in Malaysia? It’s better for all Malaysians to think as one and not be divided by race or religion.
What is the Malaysian identity? In a few weeks we will be celebrating Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day. Both national events highlight Malaysia’s ethnic diversity and proud heritage.
All ethnic groups – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazandusun, Bajau, Dayak, Iban – are recognised and featured in a Malaysia where no one race dominates over the other.
If we recall, the past Tourism Malaysia campaigns captured the essence of Malaysia.
“Malaysia, Truly Asia” captured and defined the essence of the country’s unique diversity. It summed up the distinctiveness and allure of Malaysia that make it an exceptional tourist destination.
There is only one place where all the colours, flavours, sounds and sights of Asia come together. No other country has Asia’s three major races – Malay, Chinese, Indian – plus various other ethnic groups in large numbers. Nowhere else is there such an exciting diversity of cultures, festivals, traditions and customs, offering a myriad of experience.
No other country is as “Truly Asia” as Malaysia. “Truly Asia” is the true Malaysia we should promote, not the ideology of a dominant race.
Credit must be given where it’s due. Najib Razak introduced the 1Malaysia concept to promote national unity. The eight values of the concept are high performance culture, accuracy, knowledge, innovation, integrity, strong will, loyalty and wisdom.
Najib did his best to narrow the gap between East and West Malaysia despite the many critics of the various programmes under his initiatives. Kedai Rakyat and 1Malaysia clinics would have been good ideas that benefit the masses had they been implemented properly. The idea was good, but the execution was poor, and corruption destroyed all credibility.
In a multi-religious and multiracial country like Malaysia, let us not fight over racial domination and supremacy.
All humanity is equal in the eyes of God. Don’t let our emotions get the better of us, especially when the discord is created by an outside agent.
After all, we are not Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazandusun, Bajau, Dayak or Iban. We are first and foremost Malaysian. We all have our role and place.