Save the country, not your career

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First it was Johor: the state has a weak political leadership, which explains why the Johor Housing and Land Enactment 2014 — which gives the Sultan and his nominees practical control of all land and housing matters — was passed. In this respect, democracy and representative government are compromised in Johor.

We spend millions of ringgit and tons of energy organising and participating in general elections, ostensibly to select the people’s representatives who will decide on public policies. These wakil rakyat are supposed to do what’s best for the Rakyat, but in Johor it’s not just the wakil rakyat who makes those decisions (the Ruler has also decided that electronic cigarettes must be banned).

Selangor, which is another rich and powerful state, does not want to be left out in the race for control of the state government apparatus: the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS), for example, is a corporate body with powers given to it by the Legislative Assembly. As in other democracies, the Assembly is the highest law-making body because the wakil rakyat are members of it — again, we spend millions of ringgit to elect these wakil rakyat, and they are supposed to defend the interests and the people of the state. But in Selangor MAIS is more powerful than the wakil rakyat

When MAIS issued a fatwa that Sisters in Islam (SIS) was a “deviant” group because SIS happened to be more open-minded about Islam than others, the state government and wakil rakyat kept silent. They didn’t see the need to impress upon the Sultan that the fatwa was bad both in law and by the standards of enlightened Islamic principles.

SIS convinced three smart and sound Court of Appeal judges, who ruled that the fatwa was bad in law, but MAIS decided to appeal against the decision. What did the Selangor wakil rakyat do? Nothing — and this is the state government that people rest their hopes on to defend democracy and the rule of law.

If public policy is to be determined by a group of unelected officials, by way of fatwa, why do we need elected representatives at all? Just ask these self-appointed “guardians of Islam” to issue fatwas on any matter they deem fit.

In our country, Islam is the official religion but we are not a country run by ulama. Public policy must be determined by elected representatives. Even the Ruler, who is head of Islam in his state, has to act in accordance with the advice of the Menteri Besar.

Why then are our various Menteri Besar and wakil rakyat are so scared of the state religious authorities and constitutional monarch? Perhaps the answer lies in the fear that their career may not go far.

For example, the Johor Menteri Besar — and whoever aspires to be one — seems afraid that he might not be Menteri Besar any longer if he were to incur the displeasure of the Ruler. Similarly, a political leader in Selangor will not want to incur the wrath of MAIS and be accused of being anti-Islam. These things matter more to them than trying to uphold the law.

So, it looks like winning an election means everything in this country, while providing leadership and defending the law and democracy are secondary.

This makes me sick, so I am off to have roti canai in Transfer Road, Penang to ease the pain. Needless to say, this is not the view of DAP, but my own.

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  • Joe

    From my reading of Islam, this problem goes back CENTURIES – from the time the Sultans first adopted Islam. The Sultans was looking for means to control their population and struck a bargain with the Islamic scholars who taught them the religion and got the Sultan support to spread the religion – the same way the Wahabbis struck their deal with the Sauds. From the start, the Wahabbis and the Islamic scholars of South East Asia knew that so long as they can spread the religion, even the Royals would eventually be in their control and they would be the ones in charge.

    Its no different today in modern Malaysia. Who are these “scholars” and “fundamentalist” kidding?? – they know their teachings eventually goal is to have their social class at the top of society..Its an unspoken understanding among them and everyone is made to be afraid never to raise the spectre, today they are charged with “not understand Islam”, cries of “discrimination” or “prejudice” or in Sister of Islam case “deviants”.

    Who are the ones who are wrong, the royals like Sultans and Sauds, the UMNO capitalist political opportunists who make their short-sighted bargain with likes of the Wahabbis and Hadi’s PAS or the latter themselves?

  • hattori9cp

    It has come to a state where people believe that politics and becoming an elected representative is a career path to making money (and lots of it), and ensuring pension for retirement. Naturally, this will attract all the “right” kind of “talent” and personalities, who will flock together and put personal interests ahead of national interests.

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