Malaysiakini Letter

Rule of law or rule by decree?

Saleh Mohammed
Published:

LETTER | Respect comes from the admiration of someone or something as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

The three major components of identity politics in Malaysia are race, religion and royalty (3R). They have become pesky issues, especially after GE14.

It seems the conflation of the 3R partly originates when Britain and Siam carved up the Malay Peninsula, sealing off Siamese and Malayan geo-bodies in 1902. Rulers who wanted to be included on the “Malaya” side were examples. It transformed to where the monarchy should preside over a sacral sphere of racial and religious identity.

If we demand respect for the 3R, we have to be very clear of what and how to respect. Just to say “study hard” is not enough because the "what" and "how" is important.

If a race does not embrace and adopt the good practices of its own culture and traditions, how to gain respect? The social ills, income levels, competencies, self-drive, ability to face challenges, competitiveness are some of the factors that need to be looked into. Try not to blame others for failures.

If there is a separate bangsa, where is the ‘united we stand’?

“Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves” (Quran 13:11). "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error" (Quran 2:256) and (Quran 18:29) show that Islam prohibits forced conversion towards people of any religion. People who say they are the believers of a certain religion but do not constantly follow its concepts and practices, it would be difficult to give or demand respect.

The Islamicity indices show that Western countries better reflect Islamic values than Islamic countries. And Islam does not need protection, "Surely, We have revealed the Quran, and surely, We will preserve it" (Quran 15:9).

Why did the Thais love their King Bhumibol Adulyadej so much? It started with the king’s speech during his coronation. He promised an unfaltering determination to eliminate hardships across the whole country. He then continued to unify and strengthen the country and became known as the father of the country.

At home, we have Sultan Berjiwa Rakyat and also, Raja Adil Raja Disembah, Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah. An example for the latter was when Hang Jebat disobeyed the Sultan of Melaka.

Recent happenings are a cause for worry. They have been incidentally designed to evoke spontaneous reactions to emotional or spiritual stimuli and could lead to unwanted circumstances.

The royalty is above politics and should not favour racial politics but aim to foster racial unity, just like King Bhumibol.

Are we guided by the rule of law or rule by decree?

We do not want our royalty to be on the wrong side of history like the East Indies rulers in Indonesia during the Indonesian revolution. It reduced the power of local rulers and did not significantly improve the economic or political fortunes of the majority of the population.

Even in the US, one of the primary contradictions between religion and race has been that despite the promise of individual religious freedom as enshrined in their constitution, dominant strands of American culture have long identified certain racial and religious groups as a threat to the security of the nation.

At home, a senior Umno politician also spoke against his own colleagues for playing the same old 3R game.

Even the ex-prime minister once did call on the people to reject extremism, fanaticism and rigid ideologies and continue to enhance mutual understanding and respect to maintain unity in the country.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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