I call on moderates in Malaysia to unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past.
The axis of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in government, politics and media (printed and social) have been flexing their muscles in the past eight months for the restoration of Mahathirish policies and hankering for the return of Mahathir to the helm of Putrajaya, whether as Prime Minister or de facto Prime Minister.
It has reached the stage where one of Mahathir’s top propaganda minions, Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, has surfaced publicly to test the waters with the outrageous suggestion on Sunday for the return of Mahathir to Putrajaya to help the Barisan Nasional federal government “tackle raging racial, religious and economic issues”.
Zainuddin went public two days after Mahathir floated the idea of the restoration of the Internal Security Act, which immediately received a troika of support from the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar; UMNO (not necessarily Najib’s) mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and the Umno “savior”, Perkasa – which represented a triple slap-on-the-face for the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
For the past eight months, the country has been plunged into the worst racial, religious and national polarization to create the conditions and perceptions of unrest and instability to justify a putsch by the reactionary and anti-democratic conspirators.
Such recent destabilising events include the “fairy tale” by IGP of a plot to “topple the government” at Dataran Merdeka on New Year’s Eve; the illegal and unconstitutional Jais raid on the Bible of Malaysia Society and seizure of Malay and Iban Bibles; the banning of Comano – a coalition of 52 civil society groups for the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process and the police double standards in the discriminatory and selective investigation of Father Lawrence Andrews, editor of the Herald proposing that he be charged with sedition but no similar action taken against the Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria although the latter had clearly committed sedition in his remark that it is permissible to spill the blood of those who protested in the New Year Eve’s anti-price hike.
But it is not all bleak, dark and hopeless despair in this gathering storm as evident from the following developments:
- Flower-bearing progressive Muslims who took a stand outside the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang two Sundays ago as mass was in session to send a clear message that Islam is a religion of peace and to show solidarity and defend fellow Christian Malaysians from a conservative Muslim group threatening protest;
- Former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Tun Musa Hitam’s rejection of Mahathir’s call for the revival of the infamous ISA, warning that the revival of ISA would have “negative implications” on the present government such as the government not having the confidence to defend its decision made previously.
- Support by former UMNO Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah for the removal of the Election Commission members, especially its chief, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof to restore public confidence in the Election Commission’s independence, impartiality and professionalism.
- The refusal by Comango and the 52 participating civil society groups to be bowed and intimidated by the Home Ministry’s decision to outlaw it, with Comango representatives, like Chew Swee Yoke, a founding member ofr the Women’s Lawyers Association, daring the authorities to arrest her for participating in Comango activities;
- The revelation by Council of Churches secretary-general Herman Shastri yesterday that the Church had, over the years, engaged with several prime ministers over the fears that the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians in the Malay language Bible could confuse Muslims, but the three Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir, Tun Abdullah and Najib had all failed to uphold the formula worked out with them – the latest being the 10-Point Solution to resolve the Bible controversy endorsed by the Federal Cabinet in April 2011;
- Shastri’s reaffirmation that the Christian community is committed to peaceful negotiations and solution because of the sensitivity of the matter; and
- The statement by Tan Sri Razali Ismail, the Chairman of Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) that Malaysians should reject the “extreme position” taken by the “minority factions” in the country opposing Christians’ use of the word ‘Allah’.
The Cabinet, as its first meeting of the year last Wednesday, was expected to resolve the ‘Allah’ controversy and the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said after the Cabinet meeting that the Prime Minister will announce the Cabinet decision on the issue of non-Muslims using the word of ‘Allah”.
But it has turned out to be the Cabinet farce of the decade, as the Cabinet apparently decided not to have a decision, and this is the reason why after a week, the Prime Minister has not said anything on the subject to bring the controversial and divisive issue to a close.
All eyes are turned on Najib and the Cabinet on its second meeting of the year tomorrow, and it should not continue to act in an irresponsible, cowardly and craven manner and avoiding the issue.
Instead, it should have the responsibility and courage of leadership in a plural society by fully endorsing and implementing the 10-Point Solution endorsed by the Cabinet in 2011.
Are there no moderates and patriots left in the Cabinet?
As for Mahathir, he should explain why he had failed uphold the formula he reached with the Christian Churches to resolve the ‘Allah’ issue, and instead, is aiding and abetting the “minority factions” mentioned by Razali to agitate public disaffection and stoke religious tensions in the country over the issue.
These are very difficult and challenging times for Malaysia.
Moderates in Malaysia, regardless of their political hue or religious creed, whether in Cabinet or outside, must unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past.