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Month: March 2015

A glimpse into our quasi-Islamic future

Published in Malay Mail Online

There was a time when it was hard to imagine Malaysia as anything even resembling an Islamic state.

Our administration was sufficiently secular, and Article 3 of the Federal Constitution that states Islam as religion of the federation meant the recital of prayers before official events.

Shariah courts were somewhere people went to get divorced, and religious authorities were people who officiated at weddings.

There was a lull where even Islamist party PAS pledged to work towards a “benevolent state” to ensure the welfare and interests of all citizens, regardless of religion.

Not anymore. Things seem to have escalated quickly after the 13th general elections after Malay-Muslim-majority PAS and Umno struggled to stay relevant in an increasingly colour-blind political scene.

The great PAS hudud charade

Published in Malay Mail Online

Let us all have a round of applause for Kelantan PAS. The Islamist party’s chapter surely put on a greatly entertaining show last week by tabling the amendment to its Shariah Criminal Code (II), also called the Hudud Bill.

The greatest trick Kelantan PAS ever pulled was to convince Muslims nationwide that its Hudud Bill was all about Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The seed for this has been sowed long ago, since the original Bill was tabled in 1993, and repeated again and again until many finally accepted it as the gospel.

To strengthen this view, Kelantan Mentri Besar Ahmad Yaakob took the opportunity to label critics of hudud as “liars” and “immorals” the instant he took the floor to table the Bill.

What justification did he have for such accusations? Perhaps none. But to Ahmad and his supporters, that was all that is needed to end any arguments.

Have faith, but trust your doctors

Published in Malay Mail Online

THE WAR ON SCIENCE

These four menacing words were on the cover of this month’s National Geographic magazine, as if to remind Americans and the rest of the world of the dire times we are in.

Listed on the cover are five dangerous assertions that have achieved notoriety in recent times, especially over in the US:

Climate change does not exist.

Evolution never happened.

The moon landing was fake.

Vaccinations can lead to autism.

Genetically modified food is evil.

In December last year, a measles outbreak started in Disneyland, California. Over 100 people were infected with the viral disease in the US as of last month. Measles had been declared virtually eliminated in the continent by the end of 2002.

The cause of the recent outbreak? The above belief that “vaccinations can lead to autism”, perpetuated by celebrities and a growing misinformed anti-vaccination crusade.

So where is our captain?

Published in Malay Mail Online

Around a week ago, a clickbait website published an article with a headline that puts the name “Mahathir” in the same sentence as the word “badass.”

Additionally, there is a similar trend among some young Malay Twitter users who describe themselves as “Mahathirists” in their profile.

What could possibly drive young Malaysians into yearning for Dr Mahathir Mohamad 12 years after he stepped down as prime minister? The situation was probably unthinkable as late as five years ago.

To a lot of Malaysians, “Mahathirism” is not a badge you wear with pride. The 22 years of his administration — the longest time ever a prime minister has served the country — was riddled with abuse to human rights, civil liberties and the fundamentals of the nation.

But to the younger set, the Mahathir era is now seen through rosy glasses as a time when Malaysia stood for something.

PAS-Umno unity: A bait and a bullet

Published in Malay Mail Online

Last week, Umno decided to not contest in the Chempaka by-election for the sake of “Muslim unity.” The seat fell vacant after the death of PAS spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

Deservedly, the suggestion was lauded by PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar not only with open arms, but with a cynical suggestion for Umno to just abstain from any future elections to end politicking and social schism, insisting that Malaysia would end up “more peaceful” afterwards.

Since when has Umno cared about “unity” in any sense? In the decades it has ruled the country, Umno has unashamedly leaned on divisive racial politics and policies.

Increasingly in recent years, Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) have even condoned divisive and incendiary remarks and actions of people friendly to them, doing nothing to quell racial and religious schisms but instead perpetuating them.

Umno is only showing its true colours. It has little interest in “national unity”, caring more about just “Muslim unity.”

Even then, this newfound care for “Muslim unity” is nothing more than an excuse to cover up the fact and the shame that Umno has no chance in hell of winning Chempaka after Nik Aziz’s death, no matter who it puts in the ring.