“My people are going to learn the principles of democracy the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will, every man can follow his own conscience provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow men.”
- Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic
The propaganda that Malaysia is an Islamic state is as fantastical as the idea that Malaysia is a secular state. By this I mean proponents of either have a hard time making their case because nobody seems to give a damn about Malaysia’s constitution.
Nobody is committed to the idea or spirit of a secular state, and Umno, PAS and any Muslim politician are merely using the idea of an Islamic state as a fig leaf to religious supremacy or as political capital to shore up Muslim support because of the numerous pecuniary scandals that plague the behemoth.
I can honestly say that if hands were chopped off for theft, nobody in Parliament would not be armed with prosthetics because political corruption always finds a way of differentiating itself from the average criminality that Muslims preachers seem obsessed with.
This, of course, brings me to hudud and Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong’s salvo against Malacca and Johor Catholic Diocese bishop Bernard Paul for not respecting the boundaries between church and state. When Yong cautions, "He (the bishop) should consider whether he risks fuelling the anger sentiment towards others with different faith and political support,” all this is part of the “fighting with one hand tied behind the back” propaganda that has been drummed into Malaysian oppositional voices post-1969.
There is no point in denying that there is an anti-Christian narrative in this country. Unlike many of my opposition brethren, I read many pro-Umno/establishment blogs and nowhere have I found credible evidence that “Christians” are attempting to convert Muslims and are attempting to set up a Christian state.
However, I have written this - “In my opinion, the central issue is how Islam has been weaponised in this country (and many parts of the world) by the state. This is not a legal issue but a political issue. Nowhere is this clearer in a constitution that privileges one community over the others. Nowhere is this clearer when on the eve of an important election, the head of a ruling coalition makes it clear that he will use his influence - influence that I may add is supposed to be anathema to an independent judiciary - to correct a grave injustice that was the Rooney Rebit case.”
There is no separation of church and state, or more accurately mosque and state, in this country. This idea of “tolerance” as opposed to “acceptance” has been the lynchpin of the so-called social contract when it comes to race and religion. The Umno establishment characterised the Bersih rally as a Chinese attempt to subvert power. The red-shirts led by - the unwashed for four days - Jamal Md Yunos was based on religious and racial superiority.
When the political, social and economic reality is predicated on religious superiority and oppression, religious people need to find ways to express themselves in democratic spaces and at the same time realise that the only security they have against further aggression is by supporting secular values...