Cut religion from the politics of new Malaysia

Opinion  |  Mariam Mokhtar
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The hot issue of the moment in Malaysia Baru is religion.

Muslim men complain that stewardesses are wearing "eye-poking" (menjolok mata) uniforms. Muslim men demand the right to marry children.

Some schools brainwash Muslim children into thinking that Islam is best, and children are allegedly discouraged from befriending non-Muslim children, while in some schools, non-Muslims are treated as outcasts.

Muslim women have to ask their husbands for permission to divorce. Non-Muslims who pay tax are funding Muslim institutions, and this creates much resentment.

It is permissible to convert people of other faiths to Islam, but not the other way round. Wannabe Muslims, meaning those who convert to Islam, are given easy access to bumiputra rights. This form of benefit cheating is sheer hypocrisy, because some Muslims believe in quantity (of Muslims) but not quality.

Malaysia has two sets of laws – civil and syariah – and when many bad things are done in the name of Islam, few Malaysians dare say anything about these (child marriage, polygamy, inheritance rights) for fear of being accused of interfering, or of insulting Islam. Few Muslim women will agree that the Syariah courts “protect” their rights.

At KLIA airport, I tried to buy a duty-free bottle of a particular brand of single malt whisky, for a friend, whose dying wish (he has terminal cancer) was to enjoy his favourite tipple.

Apparently, the cash till would not allow the purchase to go through, because I am Muslim and the computers are linked to Jabatan Kastam. I have no idea if this is true or not. If the sale had been allowed, the lady serving me could have lost her job. She advised me to do what countless others do, and use the boarding pass of another passenger to buy the drink...

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