MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, June 30, 2023

Who will speak up for the moderate Muslim?

Who speaks for those who do not wear their Islamic religion on their sleeve?

In every election, the conservative Malays and devout Muslims are highly wooed because their votes count. They are easy to please as long as more hardline policies are promised.

And unsurprisingly, competing political parties use non-Malays as some men would treat their mistresses.

There is no real commitment to a traditional relationship and politicians make promises they know they cannot keep, but they realise the mistress will almost always fall for.

To court the non-Malay vote, didn’t some politicians tell non-Muslims they need not fear syariah law, because they would not be affected? Tell that to Hindu mothers M Indira Gandhi and Loh Siew Hong.

In the eyes of the world, Malaysia is a moderate Muslim nation, or so say the Americans and Brits. Perhaps, compared with Afghanistan or Somalia, we may appear ‘moderate’.

M Indira Gandhi

The belief is that despite widespread human rights abuses in Malaysia, Western nations tend to overlook these because Malaysia is a ‘moderate Muslim nation’ and can be used as a friendly buffer against fundamentalist and extremist countries like Afghanistan or Somalia.

Our Muslim women are allowed to hold jobs, or go to school and get an education. They don’t have to be accompanied by a male chaperone when they leave the house.

Our streets are not like war zones, with ongoing battles between different warlords.

Gone are the days, when extremists would drag the head of a cow through the streets of Shah Alam, or the religious state authorities threaten to flog a Muslim woman for drinking beer.

On the whole, Europeans view Malaysia as a prime tourist destination with sandy beaches, lush jungles, and a haven of good food; but hidden underneath the veneer of calm and multi-ethnic integration is a dangerous mix of rising racial and religious strife.

Only the calm exterior is exposed to the foreigner. The astute expatriate who lives and works in downtown Kuala Lumpur or Penang, only becomes aware of the dangerous undercurrents, if he ventures away from his privileged existence.

Once he is aware, he does not want to get involved or say too much about what he sees, because he does not want to jeopardise his job, his privileged lifestyle, his bungalow or luxury condominium, and the children’s international school.

Harapan supporters still waiting

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is a great hit with the heads of state of foreign nations, but he has yet to ‘score’ with some of his own people especially those who supported the original Pakatan Harapan.

Many loyal supporters are forced to bite their tongues about the unity government.

They were carried on the tide of many promises and the dream of rebuilding a new Malaysia. They are still waiting for the reforms and have been told to be patient and wait a couple of months for the six state elections to conclude.

Malaysians are told that we are a moderate Muslim nation but is that about to change?

The conservative Muslims are riding high on the crest of the green wave. The non-Muslims have long known that their voice does not count. They have no choice but to keep their heads down and behave; but what about the moderate Muslims? Who speaks for them?

Occasionally, we get glimpses of the rising acts of intolerance. The menteri besar of a northern state demolished Hindu temples and ‘cancelled’ one of their important festivals.

A PAS MP felt it was his moral duty to censure nurses for wearing what he called figure-hugging uniforms which he claimed were non-syariah-compliant.

In Kelantan, the municipal council fined a woman for wearing an oversized shirt over her shorts and so it looked like she was half-dressed. The charge was that she was indecently clothed.

The fuss about shorts

To some conservatives, I would be considered indecent despite my long-sleeved shirts and long skirt. The offending bit is that my hair is not covered by a tudung.

What sort of madness are we heading for, when a piece of flimsy material, measuring two feet by three feet is enough to decide whether I am decent or not?

The average Malaysian has much to moan about; the cost of living crisis, rising commodity prices, corruption, the economy, crime, poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, debt, failed projects, family breakdown, homelessness, and rising extremism.

They would hardly find the fuss about shorts, or nurses’ uniforms of any real importance; but are these issues a taste of what’s in store for Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, in the near future?

The business owner in shorts was in her own shop when a spot check conducted by Kota Bharu Municipal Council officers fined her. Today, business premises are targeted. Will the private residence be safe tomorrow?

Will Muslim women be allowed to wear shorts at home? Will they be allowed to visit male friends? Will moderate Muslims be at the mercy of councils, or bosses who do not want trouble from the law, so they force the progressive Muslim woman to conform to syariah-compliant clothes?

In future, will the authorities raid our homes, our final sanctuary, under some pretext? This is already done in some areas of the country, where municipal workers capture dogs that innocently stand at the gates or driveway of their owners’ homes.

In a future ‘green’ Malaysia, is nowhere safe for both humans and animals? - Mkini

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army, and the president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). BlogTwitter.

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

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