Surely not another 50 years of Islamisation?

by Yin Ee Kiong | CPIAsia

Until now one can arguably say that the non-Muslims have not made a stand against the erosion of their constitutional right regarding freedom of worship. Neither have they done anything to protect the status of their religion.

The church has stood by while symbols of their religion were dismantled from mission schools. The church leaders were weak and complaint, and for being a ‘good boy’ many were made Datuks. The same can be said of the leaders of the other religions.

If ever they thought that ‘turning the other cheek’ would appease the Islamist fundamentalists then they were wrong. Appeasement only emboldened the religious ultras among the Muslims.

Now we’ve had churches being torched and corpses snatched, temples demolished and cow heads paraded to insult the religions of the infidels.

It did not help that the government played to the gallery instead of applying the constitution regarding the freedom of worship in both letter and spirit. The fact that none of the other BN component parties protested only made Umno’s work easier.

It is only now that the Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth (CCMY) has come out to say that the government’s 10-point solution to the Bible in Bahasa Melayu (Al-Kitab) issue is not enough as it does not address decades of official harassment. They want a holistic solution to the problem of religious discrimination. The Christian youths blame the present situation on their elders who did not make a stand when the problem first emerged.

From the following list compiled by someone and making the rounds via chain mail (see ‘50 Years of Islamisation’ endnote) one discerns Anwar Ibrahim’s hand in all of this. That was during his Abim and Umno days, one may say to excuse him. But what is Anwar’s stand now, one has to ask.

More importantly, will the government protect the freedom of worship of all citizens in both letter and spirit as provided for by the constitution? Or will it continue to pander to the Muslim constituency to the disadvantage of the non-Muslims?

The government talks about interfaith dialogue but when push comes to shove it backs away from it. When he was the premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi cancelled the ‘Building Bridges’ seminar of prominent Muslim and Christian scholars under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury due to pressure from Muslim groups.

Our schools are becoming more Islamised – the doa is recited at school functions and non-Muslim students must attend. Islamic Civilization is a compulsory subject for all university students. School history textbooks glorify Islam and Islamic civilization over other religions.

Our constitution states that Malaysia is a secular state yet one prime minister after another beginning with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, insists that Malaysia is a Muslim state. In current PM Mohd Najib Abdul Razak’s view, Malaysia was never a secular state.

There are also problems regarding Muslim radicals in Indonesia. But the Indonesian government takes a firm stand where religion is concerned. President Susilo Bambang Yuduyono has openly said that the government will not tolerate religious radicals. The official view is that the government is ‘neutral’ and will apply the law accordingly.

This is in contrast to Malaysia where state imams (the Mufti of Perak especially) can incite religious hatred and where the law is biased – pro-Islam protesters are allowed more latitude than those of other religions. Even when a legitimate meeting is held in a hotel (the Article 11 NGO campaign), the police stopped it because of the protest from Muslim groups. If it were other protesters, the FRU would have moved in with their truncheons and water cannons.

During tea with one of the workmen decorating the house [in Indonesia], I asked him what if his daughter married an infidel? ‘No problem!’ he replied.

What if the infidel refuses to convert to Islam? No problem. What if he changes his mind about Islam; can he opt out or convert to another religion? No problem – it is not against the law, according to him.

There are pockets of ultra Islamist communities e.g. in Acheh, but by and large Indonesians are quite tolerant and accepting of religious pluralism.

The government must cease obstructing the practice of other religions other than Islam. And it must cease harassing those who have the spine to stand up for their religion.

Thank you to the anonymous person who compiled the following:


1957: The Reid Commission drafted the Federal Constitution, and at the behest of one of the Commission members, Mr Justice Abdul Hamid of West Pakistan High Court, Article 3 (1) was formulated as such: “Islam is the religion of the Federation”.

1966: Restrictions were placed on the employment, entry and residence of priests and religious personnel. This led to the reduction of religious personnel in mission schools.

1974: The Red Cross Society was renamed Red Crescent Society.

1974 to present: The airing of Islamic television and radio programmes began increasing. From 1974 onwards, prime-time television programmes were paused to air the azan [Muslim prayer].

1979: The Islamic Revolution and revivalism in Iran had a direct effect on Muslims here. Muslim clerics began exhorting their faithful to return to the fundamentals of the faith. The Angkatan Budaya Islam Malaysia or Abim led by Anwar Ibrahim started thedakwah movement mainly among government, and college/university students. Muslim women, for the first time, were seen donning the tudung. Over the years, wearing of the tudung has become the norm amongst Muslim women here.

1981: The Indonesian translation of the Bible Al-kitab was banned under the Internal Security Act. The ban was later lifted on condition the books were restricted to Christian use.

In 1982, Islamic content on TV stood at 10 percent; in 1988 it rose to 17.5 percent.

Songs that contain the word ‘Jesus’ have been banned [e.g. Jesus to a Child by George Michael], as well as movies depicting prophets [e.g. Prince of Egypt, a cartoon about the life of Moses].

1984: It became illegal for non-Muslims to use 49 ‘Islamic’ words including Allah [God], Alhamdulilah [Praise be to God] and Insya Allah [God willing].

1985: The then Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam said, “The gSovernment has set up a committee to co-ordinate the various aspects of Islamic Syariah and civil laws in line with efforts to infuse Islamic values into the administration” [New Straits Times, March 9, 1985]

Aug 1986: Abim proposes to the government that Islamic laws be the basis of legislation in Malaysia [New Straits Times, Aug 25, 1986]

Sept 1986: The federal and state governments agreed to the integration of Syariah and civil courts. The then Lord President Salleh Abas said this integration was a first step toward the Islamisation of laws in the country. He also said that changes should not be made drastically; the best changes are those which are imperceptible. [The Star, Sept 25, 1986]

The above situation led to a written protest by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism [MCCBCHS], and a nationwide church and temple signature campaign denouncing the plans.

1988: The then Minister of Education Anwar Ibrahim, directed all principals, aged 55 and above in religious schools to stop service with immediate effect. The principals who took over were mostly Muslim. Subsequently,

(1) Moral Education replaced Christian religious education in these schools and the majority of Moral Education teachers were Muslim;

(2) Crucifixes in mission schools were removed;

(3) School history textbooks glorified Islam and Islamic civilisation over other religions;

(4) Islamic Civilization was introduced as a compulsory subject for all university students.

1988: Article 121 of the Federal Constitution was amended by Art. 121 (1A) to state that the civil courts shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts. The result of this amendment led to the civil courts being unable to adjudicate in cases where the Islamic ingredient is present notwithstanding the fact the person seeking judicial relief or remedy is a non-Muslim, especially in matters related to conversion, matrimony, children’s custody and burial.

Over the years, case law has shown:

(1) A person who converts to Islam can get his/her civil marriage dissolved by the Syariah court, automatically gains custody of children and is allowed to convert them without the non-Muslim parent’s consent [Subashini v Saravanan]. CPI note: Additionally the cases of Shamala Sathiyaseelan against her husband Muhammad Ridzwan bin Mogarajah and of Tan Cheow Hong against his wife Fatimah Foong binti Abdullah.

2) A person who converts out of Islam cannot change religious status on his/her identity card without permission from the Syariah Court [Lina Joy case];

(3) A person who applies to the Syariah Court to convert away from Islam is forced into rehabilitative detention [Revathi Masoosai case].

(4) State Islamic authorities are given power by the Syariah courts to claim, exhume and bury deceased persons who they deem as Muslims, regardless of the insistence of family members to the contrary [Moorthy Marian and Rayappan Anthony cases].

1980s: In line with Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution, state and federal law may restrict the propagation of any other religious doctrine among Muslims – the Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions Enactment was
passed in six states. The penalties for such violations are a maximum RM10,000 fine or one year’s jail, or both. Five persons including a former Muslim were detained without trial under the ISA for allegedly performing missionary work amongst Muslims.

During the 80s the print media attempted to portray that Christian evangelism was a threat to the Muslim faith. As an example, on Oct 9, 1987, the NST reported that, Christians attempted to convert Muslims with bribe money. On Oct 5, 1987, Mingguan Islamalleged that US$100bil was provided by the World Federation of Churches for the Christianisation of Muslims. The Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism [MCCBCHS] asserted that both
these stories were false. Furthermore, there is no such body as the World Federation of Churches.

1980s to present: Approvals for building of non-Muslim places of worship became increasingly difficult. Unusual conditions were imposed: height restrictions on steeples, design restrictions re temple domes. Sikh gurdwaras are barred from building their traditional domes for fear that it may cause confusion for looking too mosque-like.

The Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam took no less than 28 years to be approved and built due to vexatious bureaucratic delays and protests from residents.
To date, over 10 Hindu temples have been demolished by local councils on grounds that the structures were illegal.

1980s to present: Muslims by virtue of paying their tithes [zakat] are allowed a tax rebate of the amount tithed. This has resulted in Muslims having a lower effective tax rate, while non-Muslims with the same level of income are taxed a higher percentage.

1993: Banks and finance companies were allowed to offer Islamic banking services.

1993: he Kelantan State Legislative Assembly, which is under the control of opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia [PAS], passed the Syariah Criminal Code Bill, which included Hudud laws that call for stoning to death and chopping of limbs which however have not yet been enforced to date.

1999: The ruling Barisan Nasional lost the state of Terengganu to PAS in the general elections. PAS, with its vision of setting up a Syariah-based Islamic state, replaced DAP as the main opposition party in Parliament.

This led to a race between the BN and PAS to try and out-Islamise each other by posturing themselves to appear more Islamic.

2000: The Bahasa Malaysia translation of Al-Kitab was confiscated by the Special Branch from the Daughters of St Paul bookstore in Petaling Jaya. The then Deputy PM Abdullah Badawi later released the books on condition that the words ‘For Christians Only’ were printed on the cover.

2001: In an apparent attempt to thwart support for PAS’s plans of an Islamic state should it come into power, the then PM Mahathir Mohamed declared that Malaysia was already a model Islamic country. Despite public outcry from the non-Muslim population, the non-Malay component parties within the ruling coalition were either compliant or silent on the issue.

2002: The policy absorption of Islamic values into government administration was launched. According to the booklet, ‘Malaysia is an Islamic Country’, the policy will be implemented on a continuous basis until the goal of entrenching Islam into the nation’s system is fully achieved. The booklet was later withdrawn but the policy is arguably still in force.

2004: PAS was ousted by the DAP as main opposition party in Parliament when it lost Terengganu to the BN and retained Kelantan by the narrowest of margins in the general election. The BN, helmed by new PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, experienced its biggest victory to date winning nine-tenths of the contested Parliamentary seats. Abdullah then introduced the new concept of Islam Hadhari.

2005: Plans to set up an Interfaith Commission, a statutory non-adjudicative body to assist the government in shaping coherent policy pertaining to religious harmony, were scuttled by widespread protests from Muslim activists who alleged the commission would interfere with the holiness of Islam.

2005: City Hall enforcement officers arrested a non-Muslim couple for hugging and kissing in a public park. The couple appealed to the Federal Court, which ruled that City Hall was correct. The decision has now empowered local council authorities to act as morality police.

2006: An elderly American couple on holiday in Langkawi were harassed and humiliated by state religious enforcement officers who raided their apartment on suspicion they were Muslims committing khalwat, an offence under Syariah law.

2006: A coalition of non-governmental organisations [NGOs] formed Article 11 [named after the constitutional provision which enshrines freedom of religion], with the intention of reminding the government to defend the Federal Constitution and reaffirm the country secular nature. Their nationwide fora were repeatedly disrupted by Islamist activists. The PM stepped in and assuaged the protestors by putting a halt to the Article 11 activities.

2006: The Attorney-General’s Chambers now has a Syariah unit whose functions, inter alia, are to take steps toward the realisation of a set of laws and specific body that will be responsible for the harmonisation of civil law and syarak [laws of Islam. This could be seen as a resumption of the 1985-1988 initiative towards the integration of Syariah and civil courts.

2007: Islamic authorities have been observed to have grown more tyrannical in their enforcement, as evidenced by the Revathi Masoosai case where they forcibly took away her child on the grounds that she was a Muslim who illegally practised Hinduism, despite her claim that she had been a practising Hindu since childhood.

2007: Deputy PM Najib Abdul Razak said Malaysia has never been a secular state as the government has always been driven by the fundamentals of Islam, according to state Bernama news agency (July 17).

2007: New station TV9 was launched, which features mainly Islamic programming. There is no coverage of non-Muslim religious programmes, save for during the respective festivals.


Hudud Laws, The Constitution and the Penal Code by O.C. Lim, SJ

Islamisation of Malaysian Laws by Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ

‘Why the MCCBCHS Rejects the Application of the Syariah on Non-Muslims’


2010: Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim), an agency in the PM’s Department launches Malaysia’s first Islamic free-to-air Islamic channel, TV AlHijrah. Besides television, Jakim also owns and operates an Islamic affairs radio station, Salam FM.

2011: Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (Ikim) – yet another one of the Islamic government federal agencies – operates a 24-hour radio station which claims 786,000 listeners (according to its bulletin last October). Early this month (April), Ikim organised a convention which established a technical committee with the principal objective of harmonising Syariah and civil laws,The Star reported. The convention did not rule out the possibility of having just one unified legal system for the whole country.

  1. #1 by setu on Wednesday, 4 May 2011 - 8:53 pm

    look at another article . . . . . .

    Wednesday, May 04, 2011
    Indonesia Revisited

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 5 May 2011 - 9:47 am

    One of the problem with discussing religion in Malaysian politics is that ordinary people don’t have a framework to think about it. For ordinary people who don’t quite get the secularity and religo-politic debate and that is a lot of people in this country, they can simply their understanding by thinking of religion as a political drug. Its addiction and consequences can be severe and once addicted, its hard to shake, even impossible as most drug addicts will tell you.

    Religion is based on faith not reality or facts. You can’t argue against facts or truth in it. Its pointless to. Unfortunately politics ideal purpose – spirit translated to administration must be based on the facts and realities of everyday life. If that spirit is drug-fueled, then the facts and realities are imaginary, not of this earth. The more the spirit is fueled imaginatively rather than scientifically, then the more pointless and futile that politics is.

    Its precisely religion is political cocaine or heroin that to shake its addiction is more likely to fail than to succeed.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 5 May 2011 - 10:07 am

    This is only just the beginning of a major trend. More radical stuff are to come. They are in the works.

    Anybody still remember Islam Hadhari? Where is it now? Dead as a dodo.

  4. #4 by mauriyaII on Thursday, 5 May 2011 - 12:18 pm

    When people in power pander to their baser instincts of religious bigotry with the sole aim to entrench themselves in power, not only the sacred constitution of a nation but also all institutions of governance that derive their from therein can be compromised.

    The evil madman Mamakthir Mohamad Kutty has been the arhitect of the demise of real democracy and secularism in Malaysia. Only very insecure, naive and crass politicians resort to play the race and religious cards.


    Along with Mamak the other person who was instrumental in the perversion of religion was none other than DSAI. He single handedly corrupted the minds of all school going innocent Malay minds by introducing the dakwa system which is the root cause of class, race and religious distinction in all national schools.

    DSAI did that for his upward mobility in politics. See what price he paid and what he is still paying for the corruption or religion for his vested interests.

    Those who try to play GOD can’t fool the Almighty. Being omnipotent, He sees, knows and shows His hand in so many ways that we mortals do not understand.

  5. #5 by mauriyaII on Thursday, 5 May 2011 - 12:24 pm

    errata: …governance that derive their power …
    ….paying for the corruption of …
    …. Being the Omnipotent, ….

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