Letter to the Prime Minister

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Dear Prime Minister,

Obviously, you are not able to see me as often as before, hence why I’ve decided to write this short letter addressing three topics:

The caning in Terengganu

The recent caning of the two Malay women in Terengganu is a serious matter that requires your intervention. The event is important because it defines the character of our country as one that does not abide by its own laws.

In our Constitution, Federal law supersedes state law. There is no Federal law that allows the caning of women, so it follows that no state law can do so. If any state has a law that allows this, then your Government must do the necessary to repeal that law, even if the state law is deemed to be “Islamic”.

When your Pakatan Harapan colleagues say that there is “nothing” they can do, this is not correct—they can do something if they want to. If the situation is left unattended, right-wing Islamists will be emboldened enough to criminalise all sins. More and more “moral offences” will be punished. More Malays will face public humiliation, and Malaysia will become another Taliban country, belying its modernity and all its skyscrapers.

It’s about time that the Islamic agenda for all political parties focus more on the economic well-being and welfare of the people, rather than the punishment of “sins” that are personal in nature.

Minimum age of marriage for Muslims

The Sultan of Selangor, HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, has taken the bold step of raising the minimum age of marriage for Muslims to 18 years. Your Government should take this opportunity to present to the Conference of Rulers a similar proposal for their consideration in their respective states. The lives of many Muslim women can be made better if they are not forced into marriage at a young age.

Promoting science in education

I understand your rationale in building a Third National Car, and I support your vision of fostering deep skills in engineering, science and technology. Towards this same goal, I suggest that your Government also lift the ban on the Malay version of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, which is such an important document in helping us understand the basics of evolutionary biology.

Your Government also should start making science a subject of importance for schoolchildren at an early age by encouraging the translation and reading of popular books on physics and the laws of nature. For example, Stephen Hawking, the most brilliant mind since Sir Isaac Newton, has a few books that the Education Ministry can work on.

In this connection, my own book on Islamisation is still a prohibited item. It’s actually a harmless little book that calls on Malays not to trust politicians when it comes to religion, and to trust themselves more. I hope the ban can be lifted.

Have a safe journey to New York.

Zaid Ibrahim
6 September 2018

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