COMMENT If more than 7,000 cases of Hindus registered as Muslims, as a recent study shows, then cases of unilateral conversions would be minuscule in comparison.
If a huge number of Hindus are registered as Muslims, then this could not be dismissed as a "simple" mistake on the part of the national Registration Department or the various Islamic bodies.
There is something more sinister and dangerous brewing in Malaysia, unnoticed by the larger public.
There could be more than 7,000 cases of children or adults who have been registered as Muslims, but still lead the their lives as Hindus or members of other religious faiths.
Yes, while much attention is paid to the problem of unilateral conversions, subtle "conversions" are taking place in Malaysia, due to the nefarious efforts of the individuals, organisations and groups that are bent on converting non-Muslims to Muslims, by hook or crook.
Conversion attempts by extreme Islamic groups in Malaysia have become quite frequent in Malaysia.
As though conversion to Islam is a major problem solver!
Whether the government is behind such efforts needs to be established.
However, we cannot say that the government, with all its investigative apparatuses, is completely blind to these “secret” or “clandestine” conversions.
The government in power in Putrajaya knows about it, but it does not care as long as it remains the "champion" of Islam.
In fact, it might even encourage the proselytising bodies to undertake such nefarious tasks slowly to increase the Muslim population in Malaysia. A kind of Islamic hegemonic enterprise!
Conversion might not be "forced" in Malaysia, but neither is it something that non-Muslims accept willingly.
When conversions are forced, at least the public will come to know about it and take the necessary steps to stop it on its track.
When subtle and clandestine...
But when conversions are subtle and clandestine, then there is a danger that such attempts will go on unnoticed for a long time, with dangerous implications for the inter-religious relationship of the various segments of the population.
Malaysia is not a country that is heading towards a developed status. It is far from it.
One could even say that is it on the “reverse”!
Leaders who harp on race
On the conversion matter, it resembles a country that consists of leaders who are still harping on race, religion and other primordial aspects that developed countries have abandoned years back.
The problem is, basically, leadership.
We don't have leaders, but dealers in the country.
We don't have leaders who are visionaries, but persons who are in politics for short-term benefits or gains.
Our leaders might be educated in a formal sense, but they are not knowledgeable or wise in terms of taking the country and its people to great heights.
If primacy is accorded to religion and race, I am sorry that sooner or later Malaysia will be far behind countries that were once written off as failed states.
Malaysia is indeed moving in the direction of a failed state.
It seems to be too bogged down on matters such as religious conversions and trying to establish the primacy of Islam over other faiths.
Even some of the Arab countries have come realise this folly and are making attempts to move away from this entrapment.
P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.