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Secularism: Zaid a good choice to back up Anwar

I refer to the Malaysiakini report 'Keep Zaid Ibrahim out of Pakatan' .

Even though I feel philosophically Zaid Ibrahim being a kindred spirit of DAP, and that DAP would benefit greatly from him joining them, I feel the country needs a towering Malay to speak up loud and eloquently for secularism.

As such, I feel his role would be better served being in PKR. Being in DAP would be like preaching to the converted.

PKR is a Malay-based party whose members have been weaned on Ketuanan Melayu and Ketuanan Islam where the secular aspects of our constitution have been deliberately sidelined or suppressed in the interest of political power.

The non-Muslims in PKR are not willing to speak up on this issue for fear of losing their posts and positions in the party. We have a microcosm of MIC and MCA in PKR where their opportunistic Indian and Chinese leaders dance to Anwar Ibrahim's tune.

Anwar, as we know, is 'all things to all men' on secularism which simply will not do. He does not have the moral courage.

He has a tendency to wrap himself up in a cloak of Islamic chauvinism when his chips are down politically and then make passionate speeches about Jefferson, the father of secularism when he is overseas addressing a non-Muslim audience.

Anwar really has to come clean. This is where Zaid Ibrahim will have a tremendous role to play. He will give Anwar the confidence to adopt secularism as a political battle-cry.

I believe that the jettisoning of secularism in Malaysia will lead to a fractured and unstable society.

Malaysia is one of the most plural countries in the world where there are sizeable communities with different histories, cultures, religions and prejudices living cheek by jowl.

Unfortunately, religion throughout history has been a divisive factor and has led to countless wars and deaths. There is no room for debate when it comes to 'God's Law' as each religion has its own concept of God.

Imposing Islam on individuals who do not respect or believe in its values is a clear recipe for division and strife. This is the reason why the Malaysian constitution calls itself a secular document with freedom of worship guaranteed with Islam being the religion of the federation.

In recent years we have seen the inexorable erosion of our rights as guaranteed by the constitution. The illegal imposition of the Islamic faith on individuals who reject or renounce Islam has been a source of great angst and has far-reaching consequences and implications on human rights and unity in Malaysia.

The cause has been the improper reading of the constitution and cowardice or prejudice on the part of Muslim civil court judges. If we cannot depend on judges to apply the proper reading of the constitution to their judgements then it is no wonder we are caught in this impasse.

The cases of Revathi, Sharmila, Lina Joy and numerous others remain unresolved and this goes to the heart of what freedom, justice, human dignity and truth are all about.

If we do not resolve these issues we will continue to be a dysfunctional society ruled by criminal and evil elements despite the cloak of Islamic religiosity which is paraded and flaunted.

Zaid Ibrahim would be the first to say ' Saya pun Melayu dan Islam walaupun sekular ' and perhaps this should have been the more appropriate title for his new book!