Why Malays all fired up over Zakir Naik but not 1MDB

Modified 15 Apr 2016, 10:13 am

Malays are fascinated with religious preachers, such as controversial speaker Dr Zakir Naik, as their talks do not need any thinking, unlike complicated issues such as 1MDB, claims former minister Zaid Ibrahim.

"Why are the Malays fascinated with religious preachers? Because preachers need not have any real knowledge, except what they described as divine knowledge.

"No understanding is required from the listeners of what they say; they only need to stir up the emotions.

"Understanding 1MDB is more arduous; one needs to understand a little about economics, about banking, about how government works and how the prime minister operates in this country," Zaid said in a blog posting today.

Furthermore, Zaid claimed, Malays were generally attracted to anything religious.

However, he said, he hoped Malays would be more fascinated with worldly matters.

"Like what is a bond issue, or what is offshore banking, or a government guarantee.

"It would help them understand how 1MDB was conceived and the process by which the grand theft took place," he said.

Stop kidding

Zaid noted how former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin had lamented how difficult it was for Umno members to understand the 1MDB issue.

"I can understand why, with the kind of educational system we give to the Malays.

"If the ministers in the cabinet are having difficulty coming to terms with the subject, how much understanding can we expect from ordinary Malays," he said.

Zaid also hailed police decision to cancel some of Zakir's events and disagreed with liberals defending his freedom of speech.

"If the proponents of free speech want to keep themselves intellectually busy, they should hold forums, debates, exchanges and discussions on science, history or philosophy.

"Have debates on public policy – on the benefit of offshore tax havens, for example – or the future of public health. Talk about gravity or interstellar travel for all I care, because these subjects do not lead to fistfights or Molotov cocktails being thrown at offices.

"They should know that in Malaysia, religious forums are permitted only in a controlled environment, and some religions have more leeway than others.

"So stop kidding yourselves that your rights to intellectual discourse or freedom of speech are being denied just because a preacher – who has described Osama bin Laden as a 'soldier of Islam' and has said that Jews are permanent enemies – is denied the space to continue with his ceramah," Zaid said.

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