I will be slain and spit on for saying this, but it’s true: much of what has gone wrong with Malaysia today must be attributed to the failures of Muslim leaders in the country, particularly the ones in the Peninsula.
Their counterparts in Sabah and Sarawak are not fixated on “Islamising” the country, and have not expressed any regret over the historical events that led to the birth of Malaysia. They are quite happy to live in harmony, so long as the Federal Government provides them with adequate security – a fair expectation. They have shown maturity in the way they deal with the multitude of cultures and religious beliefs in their respective communities. They did not even bring up the Allah issue, although they were the most affected, and it has never crossed their minds to introduce hudud law.
Peninsular Muslims leaders, however, suffer from what behavioural psychologists call “the inadequacy syndrome”. This is manifested by these leaders’ constant need to enhance their own self-esteem, even though they end up creating bigger problems as a result. They feel unappreciated and therefore need to posture more in the extreme to gain the desired recognition. They can only be sedated by giving them the rope to hang DAP, suspend Malaysiakini and bring about Islamic criminal laws to replace the Penal Code.
We just have to take a broad look at Malaysia to understand why we have lost our bearings and are now drifting aimlessly. The Muslim leaders in UMNO and PAS are weak and unwilling to admit that this country was founded on the principles of a secular democracy. Yet they are also afraid to embrace the Islamic theocracy that’s demanded by Islamists for fear of losing their comfortable lifestyle and privileges. This hypocritical uncertainty is causing all sorts of problems to the system of governance.
If we are a democracy then we must protect basic human rights. Our civil court system must be the superior one when it comes to determining the application and constitutionality of all laws in the country. If, on the other hand, we are an Islamic state first, then human rights are subject to the overriding power of Muslim laws and tenets. The shariah courts must then determine and establish first legal principles.
These are the matters we have to be clear about – these are the fundamental issues that must be decided once and for all. It’s not enough for the Barisan Nasional to let MCA do the talking for them, ostensibly defending a secular government while UMNO continue their double act of being pro-Islam. Similarly, DAP leaders defend secular principles on behalf of the Pakatan Rakyat while Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PAS stick to the Islamist agenda.
These Muslim leaders are a weak bunch, fearful of being honest with the people because what’s paramount for them is holding the seat of power. The people should realise that they have been fooled for a long time, and must now collectively stand up and be counted. We cannot live with this charade forever.
The Police yesterday admitted openly that they are not able or willing to act against anyone who disobeys a court order, apparently because they were told that there are two conflicting orders on the same subject matter – one from the shariah courts and the other from the civil courts. A senior police official declared that a father could not possibly abduct his own son, regardless of what the court says. This same policeman will one day say that a husband could not possibly rape his wife, or that any sexual crime requires four witnesses, regardless of what the law says.
Now the Police have become the ultimate interpreters of the laws of the land. No one dares to correct them or to interpret for them. They have become what they are because our politicians are always afraid to stand up for the right thing. These Muslims leaders don’t dare table the necessary changes to the laws on civil marriage or to Muslims family laws in Parliament (which were amended years ago and are still waiting for Parliament to pass them).
Just the other day our Deputy Prime Minister chided those who questioned the accepted meanings of the fundamental provisions in the Constitution. By this I mean people like me, who believe that our Constitution is secular. Our highest courts have declared and interpreted the substantive nature of these provisions and pronounced our Constitution as secular. This interpretation has not been reversed by another superior court since 1986.
Despite this clear pronouncement, the DPM and the Islamists still maintain that Islamic laws have superior rights under the Constitution because of Article 3. We would be hard-pressed to find Muslim leaders in Sabah and Sarawak being interested in the new meaning of Article 3, not when most of their people are still seeking better wages and housing.
Let’s just say for argument’s sake that the peninsular Muslims are right in their interpretation. Can we have the PM and the DPM give their unequivocal endorsement of this point? Can we now amend the Federal Constitution to make this interpretation explicit, so that everyone knows where to go? Add hudud as a substantive criminal law in the Penal Code and don’t limit it to Kelantan. Instead of playing with words, these Muslim leaders must have the stomach to say what they want this country to be.
This strange perception that we have a dual legal system is false – we have only one. Personal laws for Muslims are part of the main system and they are not meant to override the main body of laws in the country. Yet no one is prepared to publicly declare that the civil High Court is the superior court under the Constitution. The shariah courts are limited in terms of its jurisdiction and applicability. It is only for Muslims in selected matters.
It’s illogical to say we have two systems coexisting in parity when they are totally different in scope and power. Our civil courts must be able to make a ruling to determine if the Shariah Court has applied the law correctly; otherwise, what we get is the chaos we are seeing today.
If these weak Muslim leaders in the Peninsula want to put shariah above all else, the leaders in Sabah and Sarawak need to take a stand. The right thing to do is amend the Federal Constitution and declare that Islamic laws are the foundation of all laws. Then the Shariah Court will be superior to the High Court. We might not even need the High Court by then. It would then also be opportune to declare that the Quran is the highest law of the land and that the Federal Constitution is subject to it. At least then we would know where we stand. These leaders must not be allowed to continue confusing everybody, including our policemen.
The hudud issue has resurfaced with Muslim groups and politicians in the peninsula wanting hudud to be implemented (no such call has been made in either Sabah or Sarawak). Not one leader in UMNO or PAS has so far dared to oppose this motion. All right, let’s do it for the entire country then, and for all Malaysians to feel the full effects of Islamic criminal law. I am okay with this as long as it applies to everyone. What I find objectionable is the attitude of these weak leaders. Why the ridiculous suggestion to move a Private Members Bill to achieve this objective? Why is the law being made applicable only in Kelantan? Why exclude non-Muslims from the application of hudud? If you are genuinely fighting for Islam, go all the way.
Let the PM/DPM move the Bill and let Anwar support it. Let’s go full steam and ensure all Malaysians are subject to the same laws and punishments. Stop pussyfooting around the issue. Why should non-Muslims be excluded? It’s this exclusion that has made non-Malays, particularly DAP, gung ho and comfortable with PAS. DAP want PAS to get to power because that will help them gain power as well, and they are comforted by the promise that hudud will not be applicable to them. They are no different from the MCA leaders in the BN, whose job is to make sure the laws are not applicable to the Chinese. Who cares about the Malays and the Muslims who do not want hudud?