In 2001 then PM Mahathir declared that Malaysia was an Islamic state. Tragically, BN component parties thought it was nothing but a clever ploy and chose instead to play along. It was their naïve belief that as long as the Federal Constitution stood, Malaysia would remain secular.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, because the Constitution remains a paper-thin hedge against a growing Islamic onslaught. And no, precisely because some religious groups backed by bankrupt politicians think said Constitution is no more than toilet paper unworthy of a nation (whose faith apparently rests on divine revelation), and therefore totally irrelevant, thank you. All this in spite of the fact that over 40% of the nation’s population do not bow in Mecca’s direction.
Six years after Mahathir’s infamous declaration, the Islamist agenda is writ large, steamrolling across a 50-year old social contract leaving in its wake broken families, grave snatches, detention of apostates, harassment of pub singers and waiters, mob threats, book bans, alarmist smses, and demolished churches and temples.
Today, it’s DPM Najib’s turn playing the Islamist card. No, Najib. Malaysia is a nation with a Muslim majority, but it’s not Islamic by a long stretch and I stand alongside clear-minded Malaysians who stoutly defend a secular Malaysia. We cannot allow an individual to hijack the nation’s secular-plural character and unilaterally pronounce it Islamic. Ronnie Liu writes of an encounter with ex-PM Mahathir where he denounces Malaysia being labeled Islamic:
Farish Noor doesn't like what he hears and warns that the direction that Malaysia's politicians are taking will turn the country into another failed state, Pakistan:
I once pointed out to the former prime minister Dr Mahathir at a forum in Shah Alam one year after he unilaterally declared Malaysia as an Islamic State, that he may be the most powerful man in this country but he has no rights to declare Malaysia as an Islamic state.
I also pointed out to him that since he did not seek the approval from the Cabinet and the Parliament, I would regard his proclaimation as null and void and purely his personal opinion. [More]
Today, after decades of Islamisation at the hands of Pakistan’s Mullahs that went unchecked by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later Zia ul Haq, Pakistan has become an outcast state there religious politics has proven to be divisive and detrimental to the plight of women, non-Muslim minorities and minority sects among Muslims. All of this could have been avoided by sticking to the secular principles of the Pakistani constitution, but that same constitution has been torn to shreds by successive politicians – including Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif – who found it expedient to play the ‘Islamic card’ whenever it suited them, just to garner some cheap votes at the elections. The rest, as they say, is history and that history now weighs heavily of Pakistan and its people. [More]
As Farish noted in his article, Pakistan's slide into the abyss of sectarian religious politics was the work of secular leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and not conservative mullahs.
I'm heartened that more groups are voicing their distress and strong opposition to Najib. According to news reports, MCA's Ong Ka Chuan has waded in, as haveThe Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) , the Bar Council, and the redoubtable DAP. Haris Ibrahim whose untiring defense of the Federal Constitution has been an inspiration posts old newspaper clippings and challenges Najib to furnish proof that Malaysia has been Islamic all along.
The future of Malaysia is at stake. Those who do not speak up now in her defense will lose the right to speak if and when the curtain falls.