Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Will God ever come to Malaysia which has a multitude of false prophets?


Can religion help save Malaysia?

by Andrew Sia

COMMENT | Many years ago, I spoke to Baru Bian, then of PKR, about the role of his religion, Christianity, in his “perjuangan” (mission). I recalled him saying that the Bible taught that its followers should stand up for justice in society, and that is why he decided to help fight court cases where lands of Sarawak natives were being grabbed by powerful politicians and business tycoons (including “Christian” ones from Sibu).

That later naturally led him to politics. After all, if the laws drawn up by those in power favour the strong over the weak, then perhaps we should try to change those laws. However, I remember him telling me back then that his own church was not very comfortable with such advocacy.

There are different views about if, and how much, Christians should be involved in politics. Should they vote? Obviously, yes. How about speaking up for a better country and standing for elections? Some believe that Christians should detach from this world and just focus on “spiritual” matters, such as prayer and preaching, especially since politics is seen as “dirty”. But does that mean that politics should be surrendered to the bad apples?

Baru Bian’s betrayal of the voters’ mandate during the Sheraton Move has, for me, sullied his reputation, though he salvaged matters with a dramatic, last-minute U-turn. However, there were several other “Christian” politicians who had no qualms about being political frogs.

On the other hand, I have utmost respect for DAP leader Hannah Yeoh, in stating clearly that “God wants to reclaim politics and public service in Malaysia” and that Christians can, indeed should, make a positive contribution in this country.

There are some who moan that they have “lost hope” in the country and no longer “feel like voting”. My answer is always, “Sure, not everyone in Pakatan Harapan is good, but have you lost hope in sincere politicians like Hannah too?”

Just before the last general election, former Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor warned civil servants to beware of DAP, accusing them of being “evangelists”. Instead, he said it was important for Muslims to “show the true teachings of Islam”.

Well, it was fine and dandy for him to preach back then, but how will his listeners feel now that he has been sentenced to two years’ jail for corruption? Can they instead accept an honest politician from DAP, even though he or she may be Christian?

I find it rather strange that our political games keep pushing Muslims to feel “allergic” about Christianity, even though both religions have roots in Moses and Abraham. Which makes me wonder if DAP’s non-Christian leaders need to do, oh say firewalking, or perhaps have swords and kavadis pierce their bodies to “prove” that the party is not part of a nefarious plot to “Christianise” the nation?

As for Hindus, they proved they could be a potent political force when the Hindraf movement arose in 2007 after a famous temple was demolished. Even as a minority in this country, they dared to come out on the streets en masse, despite various warnings from leaders of “the system”.

Chronic corruption, racial poisons

Call me an idealist, but I had always hoped that people who are serious and sincere in their faith, of any religion, would be the ones who could make a real difference. In the past, there was hope that PAS could be the antidote to the chronic corruption and racial poisons spewed by their (then) arch-enemy Umno.

For one, can you guess what is actually worse than eating pork? Surprisingly, it is corruption. As a state mufti once explained to me, while consuming pork is haram (forbidden) in Islam, corruption is totally condemned (dilaknat) as an abomination before God.

It may also be shocking for non-Muslims to learn that racism is wrong in Islam. Yet “Menggempur Pemikiran Assabiyah” (confront racist/tribal thinking) was the theme of a PAS muktamar (AGM) in the mid-1980s.

This was the more progressive version of PAS led by Ustaz Fadzil Noor and Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, which eventually led to cooperation with DAP in Pakatan Rakyat - those were the days when Chinese and Indians would help carry PAS election banners. This alliance was a real threat to the kleptocrats and probably led certain cyber-poopers to rebrand PAS ulamas as “ularmak”, playing on the word “ular” or snake.

But since the death of Nik Aziz, the party seems to have changed. I remember listening to ceramahs by Amanah president Mohamad ‘Mat’ Sabu before the 2018 elections that the lifestyle of some PAS leaders had become posh. He said that PAS had been a party that had always struggled to get funds and even had to ask its members to climb coconut trees to hang flags. But then, said Mat Sabu, some leaders were suddenly driving cars such as Toyota Vellfire and Audi Q7. He wondered why this was so…

Sarawak Report has revealed that then prime minister Najib Razak was secretly wooing PAS ahead of the general election, and that RM90 million had allegedly flowed into the accounts of its top leaders. PAS retorted by claiming that it would not work with Umno and sued Sarawak Report in London. But when the case was settled out of court, the article need not be taken down, thus suggesting that something smelly had indeed happened.

If this is true, the question is: are PAS leaders so cheap that a mere RM90 million could flip them? From fighting their biggest enemy, Umno, into allying with them? Or is their true “kiblat” (direction of prayer) that of gaining power in Putrajaya, even if it means supporting corrupt leaders? To the extent of kowtowing with a special house visit to Najib’s house on the very night after he had been convicted in the SRC case? What has happened to their perjuangan?

What about PAS’ favourite platform of hudud, and harsh punishments for theft (what about corruption?), an issue that they had used to split Pakatan Rakyat? Has it now been conveniently forgotten because it’s too controversial an issue for its allies, especially in East Malaysia?

Their new-found fetish for lavishness has continued and early this year, it was revealed that Kelantan had bought its PAS leaders a whopping 14 Mercedes-Benz cars, even though the state is the poorest in Malaysia.

The mantle of Nik Aziz and progressive political change based on Islam has been taken up by Amanah, which underlines that akhlak (moral behaviour) is the real substance of the religion, rather than the showiness of speaking Arabic or wearing the “serban dan jubah” (turban and robe). Only time will tell how influential Amanah will be.

So, as we look towards 2021, my small hope is that sincere people, from any religion, can help make Malaysia a better place - for all.

ANDREW SIA is a veteran journalist who likes teh tarik khau kurang manis. You are welcome to give him ideas to brew at tehtarik@gmail.com


  1. I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.

    — Muhammad Abduh

  2. i feel equally allergic abt political islam n political christian, semua cakap tak serupa bikin.

    1. U missed out that katak-ised demoNcracy!

  3. Bravo PAS, for showing what islam is all about.

    And bravo Kelantanese for being one of the poorest if not the poorest state in Malaysia. Yes, continue to believe and vote PAS hypocrites into the state and federal assemblies..you deserve what you are.

    Be proud Kelantanese for the highest HIV infections in Malaysia. Be proud that your state PAS government will ensure you get fresh water all year round but in 30 years time after all the pipes are identified and repaired or replaced.

    Bravo Kelantanese, PAS MPs need their Mercedes to serve you better; never mind Kelantan being one of the poorest if not the poorest state in Malaysia.

    Bravo Kelantanese for a truly islamic state that is Kelantan where the PAS government is guided by Islamic principles when governing Kelantan.

    Other states should look at Kelantan and see how a state should be run (or not). All hail the extraordinary model that is Kelantan!