“They are ignorant and unaware that there are Islamic solutions to all problems.”
- PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang
When Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong blathers on about reality and theory in BN politics, what he is really talking about is the reality that non-Malay voices mean very little in the reality enforced by Umno by its political commissars like party supreme council member Ahmad Maslan.
Ahmad Maslan’s reality goes beyond the confines of Umno and permeates all of mainstream Malay politics. This Jobsian “reality distortion field” makes it possible for Umno/Muslim potentates to make the most bizarre claims which then finds currency in the ‘take and take’ politics of Malaysia. The hegemon takes and gives nothing in return.
This is the same Andy Yong who acknowledged that the system was based on discriminatory policies and neither BN nor the opposition - at least the Malay component of either - intended to change it.
Let me make this very clear.
If either BN or opposition non-Malay politicians support this bill [amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355)], then they are complicit in furthering the aims of Islamists, whose intentions are to change this country for the worse. Who are these committed Islamists?
Here is James Chin’s definition taken from the Brookings Institute that I used as a launching for my article on the way to Malaysia’s Islamic paradise - “In the Malaysian version of the Malay-Islamic state, Sunni Islam’s supremacy is indivisible from ethnicity, i.e. the Malay race. In other words, the unique Malaysian brand of Sunni Islamic supremacy is fused with intolerant Malay nationalism. This highly committed group is trying to build the world’s only Islamic state where Islam and one particular ethnic group are one and the same.”
However, the more important question for opposition supporters is whether the Malay wing of the various opposition political entities would support the Umno adopted bill sired by PAS’ Abdul Hadi Awang? Whenever issues like these crop up, the tendency is to brush it aside in favour of the supposedly greater 1MDB scandal and removing the current Umno prime minster as a means of cover for the Malay/Muslim wing of the oppositional front.
This is extremely and [I would argue] criminally short-sighted. Everything that is wrong with this country is because a weaponised Islam has been used to cover up the various malfeasances that the state is guilty of. This idea that an Islamic state and a particular ethnic group are one and the same, is the foundation - the reality that Umno wishes to propagate - and if there is no dissent, then we are all guilty of having the same agenda.
Umno is in a state of panic because if the non-Malay component parties and dissenters from Sabah and Sarawak do not vote for this bill, then there is no fig leaf of consent. There is no official sanction by the non-Malay voices in a coalition that supposedly represents all Malaysians.
In addition, make no mistake, this bill is here to divide us. When Muslims who support this bill say that this bill does not affect non-Muslims, this is objectively wrong. Anything to do with Islam in this country affects non-Muslims.
People who make the claim that this bill is merely a distraction are naïve and most probably suffering from delusions of their own. Yes, it is a distraction but it is a distraction with a specific intent, to further the cause of hegemony which would make it much more difficult to dislodge Umno. Furthermore, it is meant to demonstrate that the monolithic Malay/Muslim narrative that Umno uses through its various indoctrination programmes.
If opposition Malay/Muslim leaders dare not or will not vote against this bill, it merely demonstrates that ultimately Muslim solidarity trumps any kind of multiracial/multiethnic cohesiveness. It demonstrates that in the end that Malay oppositional voices will never stand in solidarity with non-Malay oppositional voices in this country when it comes to the issue of Islam, even if such ‘Islamic laws’ are unjust and that some Muslims have no wish to be subjected to them.
Hadi’s ‘West plagiarises Islam’
Keep in mind that Hadi Awang has claimed that the West “plagiarised Islam” - “It must be pointed out that the West who plagiarised Islam and took the idea of democracy by separating the genuine aspects of ‘aqidah’ (faith), ‘syariat’ (laws) and ‘akhlak’ (discipline). Thus it became a political system that is imperfect because it was amended far from the original concept born from Islam” - even though he and his political party have no problem participating in the democratic process.
Consider this - “We want to manage this country with all the states and its multiracial society all according to our understanding of the Quran and as-Sunnah (the ways of the prophet)” - what does this entail?
What does Hadi’s understanding of the Quran mean? As I argued in Hadi Awang’s Islamic state - "Hadi’s rejoinder that only Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut)” is the kind of bigoted rhetoric that characterises mainstream Malay politics and is the overt ideology that maintains the system of privileges and systemic inequalities that impedes any sort of egalitarians goals in this country.”
Think about this for a moment. Hadi Awang’s interpretation of Islam leaves no room for anyone else to lead but Muslims. There can be no dissent because all dissent is based of flawed Western thinking. For him, “there are Islamic solutions to all problems.”
Now take a look at what Umno has been doing with the National Security Council (NSC) Act and suppressing every kind of dissent to its hegemony. This is what I wrote when discussing the new role of Chairman Najib - “However the reality is, that besides a fancy title, this Act redefines the powers of the executive and it is not hyperbolic to claim that with this Act, we are no longer just a Third World country or developing country or whatever other nonsensical nomenclature that economists like to use, but rather a dictatorship.”
These two not disparate elements are working in concert, and the terrifying reality is that those in a position to voice dissent are either too cowed to offer such or willingly enabling such agendas because of Muslim solidarity.
This is the reality that Ahmad Maslan wishes to foist on every single Malaysian regardless of race or religion. This is the reality that a weakened Umno has no choice but to perpetuate because they need PAS as they are losing ground.
I would rather live somewhat free in a kleptocracy than live in an Islamic theocracy. However, what this regime is attempting to do, and will succeed if there is no dissent, is make the two the same, just like any failed Islamic state.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.Mkini