Malaysiakini News

A black day for Malaysia Baru

K. Sudhagaran Stanley  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The removal of LGBT activists’ portraits from the George Town Art Festival is the first black day since the installation of the Malaysia Baru government.

It crushes the hope of Malaysians who want to see changes in the way this country is administered.

As a Penangite, I feel truly ashamed, that the Penang government has allowed this to happen in our state, one of the leading states in Malaysia.

Worst of all, this incident took place during the George Town Festival, an event to celebrate the diversity, art, and various communities.

Repeatedly, we are made to witness religiously motivated policies being imposed on the lives of Malaysians.

This is a sign that Malaysia is descending towards becoming a failed state if drastic measures are not taken urgently to separate governance from religion.

Since the start of the Parliament meetings after GE14, there have been issues that signal the continuation of Talibanisation policies being implemented, for example:

  • the reluctance and unserious attitude of the government to end child marriage
  • the worthless idea of wanting to issue a female dress code in the private sector
  • the comments made by minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa that he would close down the Genting casino if he had the opportunity to do so,
  • the granting of refuge to fugitive and Islamic extremist Zakir Naik,
  • and now the removal of LGBT activists’ pictures.

It seems that proponents of extremist ideology and enemies of liberalism are in control of the Malaysia Baru government.

Ministers such as Mujahid have failed to protect human rights and stand up to pressure from extremists in this country. Mujahid should be removed if he can't uphold the aspirations of the majority of Malaysians who voted for change in the last election.

It is sad to note that in this century, a learned minister can say that "Malaysia does not promote LGBT". He has failed to understand that the government should be free from religiously motivated policies and should be the government for all communities, protecting their rights and interests.

He has also failed to understand that being a homosexual is not a choice. Reports of homosexuality date back to as far as 2,400 BCE. Many historical figures such as Socrates, Lord Byron, and Edward II are linked to homosexuality.

In the past, many countries had severe lethal punishments for homosexuals including burning them, stoning them to death and publicly hanging them. These punishments were linked to belief systems linked with religions, such as Christianity and Islam, that prohibit homosexuality.

The need to abolish religiously grounded laws

In Malaysia, the law which makes sodomy an offence, is the very same law used to imprison Anwar Ibrahim. The law used against him is inspired by (archaic) British law which was influenced by Christianity’s teachings against homosexuality.

Over the years, many countries around the world abolished legislation that criminalises homosexuality after lawmakers began to understand that these laws and punishments are not a “solution” to a gay people’s sexual preferences.

The State and Federal Government should be able to make policies which are free from religious foundations and are instead based on the rights of an individual.

To impose your belief on others is not a right but a violation of other’s rights. I am a Christian and I am not a gay activist, but I respect human rights, diversity and one’s choice to live his or her life according to his or her wishes.

The Penang State Secretary Farizan Darus should be ashamed of himself for instructing the pictures to be removed from the exhibition. Penang does not deserve leaders like him in the government.

I call upon our chief minister, Chow Kon Yeow to intervene and instruct for the pictures to be reinstated at the exhibition.

The DAP government should lead the way, as we always have shown to the rest of Malaysia that we are different. I congratulate State Exco YB Chong Eng for opposing the ludicrous action of removing the pictures.

Activist Marina Mahathir should also be applauded for requesting that her picture be taken down as a sign of protest. I suggest for other leaders such as YB Lim Kit Siang and Siti Kasim follow suit to send a strong protest to the government.

If we don’t rectify the mistakes now, this would be the start for greater Talibanisation policies to be implemented.

The Council of Eminent Persons should advise the Prime Minister to go all lengths to eradicate extremist ideologies and protect human rights. I am sure the council would have learned by now how much damage religion-inspired policies has done to our country.

To you, your religion, unto me, my religion. Respect human rights. Free our country from "religocrats"!

K SUDHAGARAN STANLEY is C4 coordinator for northern region and political researcher to Bukit Gelugor MP Ram Karpal Singh.

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

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