LETTER | Who is Perlis Mufti Asri Zainal Abidin to tell Malaysian voters that they should reject Hindraf candidates if they are fielded in the coming general election?
Asri might be influential among some sections of Muslims in the country, but he no right to tell the voters in the country who they should vote for and who they should not.
I know that he is staunch supporter of controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik being in the country. But at the same time, despite his progressive stance on some issues, I don't understand why Asri wants to influence voters against Hindraf.
Personal opinions should not be confused with public positions, especially when the country is facing a general election.
In fact, I don't understand how he could support Naik when authorities in India have already filed papers for his extradition.
Naik is alleged by some have influenced youths in Bangladesh and in the Indian state of Kerala to take part in religious extremism, to the extent some have gone to fight the war alongside ISIS in the Middle-East.
The infamous attacks on a night club in Dhaka in Bangladesh was apparently inspired by the speeches of Naik. Furthermore, the Indian government wants to question Naik for using his foundation in Bombay for money laundering activities.
Apart from the crimes committed in India, Naik is also responsible for spreading religious hatred in Malaysia. Although he does not appear in public much anymore, he is still in the country and constantly meeting Muslims who are supportive of him.
Earlier, he had engaged in public lectures causing damage to the interreligious relations in the country between the Muslims and non-Muslims.
Asri is also unhappy with Hindraf and others for filing a suit in the court to deem Naik a threat to national security and to obtain a court ruling for his deportation.
Although Hindraf's suit was rejected by the court, it raised the question of whether the continued presence of Naik in Malaysia was something desirable.
I think Asri is good religious scholar. His views are sometimes contrary to those who support the religious status- quo.
However, is nobody to question whether Pakatan Harapan should be fielding Hindraf candidates or not. As we know, Hindraf is not full-fledged partner in the coalition, but merely a strategic partner. Whether Harapan will allocate seats to Hindraf remains to be seen.
The question of fielding Hindraf candidates is a matter that needs to be sorted by the top leadership of Harapan and its chairperson Dr Mahahtir Mohammed.
Mahathir thinks Hindraf is an asset to Harapan and that seems to be consensus of other parties like the DAP, PKR, Amanah and Bersatu. So if the top leadership can support Hindraf, who is Asri to call for a boycott?
In doing so, is Asri telling Malaysians that Indians should support BN? Is Asri afraid that Hindraf would be able to take away Indian support from BN in the coming general election? Is he afraid that without Indian support BN would not form the next government in Putrajaya and thereby making his position as a mufti untenable?
Hindraf was betrayed by the BN government under the leadership of Najib in the last election. So what is wrong for the organisation to support Harapan this time around? If the Indian community is still respectful of Hindraf's past contributions, who is Asri to advise Indians?
Sorry, whatever the differences among Indians, when it comes to Hindraf, Indians will be united. Hindraf will remain a household name among Indians for a long time to come.
Asri – who once described me as a dangerous individual – might be influential on some matters, but he does not have the political clout to sway voters in the coming general election. Maybe a handful of his supporters might withhold their support to Hindraf candidates or that matter Harapan, but who is he to say cast his spell on politics?
I am not asking Asri not to support Naik, but does it make sense to support a fugitive when there is overwhelming evidence that the latter might have engaged in extreme religious activities in India and here in Malaysia.
Asri might be an excellent Muslim scholar, however, if he is blind to hatred perpetrated by Naik against non-Muslims and others who do not share his vision of things, then perhaps he should refrain from advising others.
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and Perai state assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.