Hornbill Unleashed

April 7, 2017

Benching Umno will not preserve our constitution

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:05 AM

“I do not wish to live in a society where you are stoned for adultery. I prefer to live in a society where we get stoned first, and then commit adultery.”

– Ibn Warraq

Sometimes I worry about my reputation amongst certain quarters that I am anti-Islam, which means by definition I am also anti-Malay. Since I have made the claim that Islamic extremism is the existential threat facing this country, I see no reason to stop writing about this subject. Other pundits can concentrate on discussing issues that I consider important but in the end not as damaging to this country as the threat of Islamic imperatives that would divest us of rights and, yes, our way of life.

Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen closed his open letter with this rather simplistic line of reasoning – “If we truly want to defend and preserve the secularism under our Federal Constitution, Umno must be made the opposition in the coming general election. It is only when Umno is made the opposition then that it can no longer implement its hudud agenda.”

People, this is the problem right here. Benching Umno will not preserve or defend the constitution. Over the long Umno watch, the constitution has been amended to persevere the hegemony of Umno and the agenda of Malay supremacy with the theme of Islam as the means of maintaining compliance within the Malay polity.

Chong is right about the social engineering and the demographics that would ensure a kind of Islamic supremacy controlled by Umno, which would eventually lead for whatever reasons to an ‘Islamic’ state.

However, this meme that by benching Umno, we as Malaysians, whatever our religion or credo, would be safe from the machinations of Islamic extremists, is irrational considering that we neither have a committed secular opposition nor Muslim politicians who openly commit to secular agendas. As long as this remains the default setting of Malaysian politics, there will never be a period where secularism is safe from encroaching Islamic extremism.

While everyone was blaming Umno for the ‘sandiwara’ of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s bill, the reality is that Muslim politicians, especially from the opposition, made no clear statements on their stand on this Islamic bill. Now some would argue that this is about playing the game safe and being mindful of the “Malay” vote but the reality is that since there is no Muslim oppositional voices that are a direct contrast with that of Umno and PAS, there can be no alliances that defend and preserve the secularity of the constitution.

Opposition politicians, especially non-Muslim ones, should stop making over generalisations in an attempt to blame everything on Umno when the reality is that the Islamic issue runs deeper than what most opposition supporters led by their political leaders (who know or should now otherwise) believe.

It boils down to what I wrote in my piece about how we (non-Muslims) are a tolerant lot and the reality that many Muslim political leaders, spiritualists and the average committed Islamist subscribe to the words of someone like the Pahang mufti –

“This has never been about a government of equals. This has always been about creating a monolithic community under the yoke of Umno. Always remember what the Pahang mufti said after he backtracked from his ‘genocide’ comment – ‘We are not forcing but I urge non-Muslims to convert to Islam to be safe in the afterlife and for unity in Malaysia. There will be no more chaos and we can focus on development’ – which is the canard that Muslims shove down one another’s throats in attempt at solidarity.”

Losing our secular peace

Does anyone seriously believe that overthrowing a kleptocratic regime would safeguard our secularity? The world over, Islamic tyrants have used Islam to control their Muslim populations. They have used Islam to subvert the democratic process. The only safeguard that any democracy has against the intrusion of religion into democratic spaces and public policy, are people and political leaders who are willing to defend the secular nature of the country which is always at risk by the mendacious behaviour of committed Islamists.

Giving an unsolicited advice to Bersatu Youth operative Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, I wrote, “Separating Islam from politics, especially in the younger Malay demographic, is crucial if we are to have a ‘post-Umno’ era that the opposition is touting in the run-up to the next general elections.  Oppositional political parties in their own way are pandering to the Malay/Muslim demographic using the same old tools that Umno uses to maintain its dominion over the Malay polity.”

That is the key – separating Islam from politics. You know why this is impossible. Because even if we reject Islamic political parties, even the so-called moderate ones, what we are left with are Malay political parties that have to defend ‘bangsa dan agama’ as they want the Malay vote because at this time, removing the current Umno potentate is the only goal. Presumably, this is the only political strategy that is sought despite decades of Umno failure.

Perhaps “failure” is an inaccurate description. Perhaps “success” would be a better description. If the goal is to create a compliant, subservient Malay polity that does not question what any political parties do in the name of Islam, then the success of this particular agenda cannot be questioned.

However, if you think that there is something wrong with the way how Islam is promulgated in this country, if you are concerned that the rights of all Malaysians are subject to Islamic imperatives, if you are worried that we are losing our secular peace, then you have to begin questioning why we tolerate even in the name of removing a kleptocrat in the short term, the use of Islam as a political tool against all Malaysians.

I reproduce here what I wrote when dismissing the claims of a non-Muslim in the PAS supporters’ wing or whatever it is called – “This is why I say any Malaysian who supports Hadi’s bill is ignorant. This is not a question about suppressing the religious rights of the majority, it is about making it clear to the state that religion should not be used to divide the Malaysian polity but more importantly, ignore the voices of Muslim Malaysians who do not subscribe to the state’s interpretation of Islam.”

Attempting to link the removal of Najib with the argument that our constitution and tenuous secular well-being would be protected grossly misinterprets the current reality of Malaysian politics. Compromise only goes so far, and if we continue playing the same game, eventually we will lose that game.

Time is not on our side. Political will is not on our side. Modern functional democracies are unstable as it is but democracies co-existing with Islam are in a more fragile position. Until there is a concerted Malaysian effort to defend the secular themes in our constitution, we will always be at the mercy of those who use Islam to further their political agendas.

Yesterday: Hadi’s bill and no honour amongst thieves


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
Source : @ Malaysiakini


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1 Comment »

  1. Pilihanraya Akan datang tuan-tuan dan puan-puan mana satu mau pilih
    A) Najib Dan Rosmah
    B)selamatkan Malaysia

    Comment by Frankie — April 7, 2017 @ 3:20 PM | Reply


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