Wednesday, July 16, 2014

From secularism to religious fanaticism and extremism!

Last updated on 13/07/2014 - 08:27
12/07/2014 - 09:30

OUTSPOKEN: It is simply unbelievable that Malaysia which at one time was a happy place for all regardless of their ethnic origins or religious denominations is moving towards religious intolerance and communal animosities. The country has lost its integrity as a democratic state and the situation is being eroded at unbelievable speed.
Malaysia is no more truly Asia but more truly an Asian catastrophe.
Malaysia was at one time full of music and merrymaking in celebrating events of significant nature. There would be music and joget dancing at Malay weddings and there would be “joget lambak” at events to celebrate “mandi safar” but alas, all these fun events had been termed un-Islamic and thus rooted out of the Malay culture.
All the ancient and rich cultural shows like Makyong and “wayang kulit” have also been termed to be anti-Islam and as such dismissed from the everyday cultural life of the people. Almost every significant trace of the happy Malay was banned so that the Malays have now become more Islamic than the Arabs. Malays have become colourless like the Arabs of Arabia who know only white (the men’s dress) and black (the women’s dress) and are very drab in outlook.
Those so-called non-Islamic cultural traits practised by the older Malay generation contained a lot of positive elements to implant the young generation with good and productive cultural and work habits.
They may seem to be un-Islamic but they served the needs of society and were the source of good examples of community life and living. The Malay youths now have lost what constituted as good practices in facing community and everyday life.
The east coast now is abounding with heinous crimes. The rape cases reported recently simply boggle the mind. Other crimes too keep mounting. My son and family recently spent their time in Tok Bali and were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by robbers. This was a normal happening, according to the police there.
Another son who manages a security company employed youths from the east coast but they simply refused to carry out their duties as what was required. They simply wanted to enjoy life without working and by indulging in drugs. This is the type of progress that the Malay youths in the east coast have achieved.
The BN/Umno government has betrayed the people’s trust by moving the country towards religious intolerance and the elimination of all the positive traits in the Malay culture. This is misgovernment. The PAS government too is involved in these negative actions.
I once served in the state civil service in the mid-sixties and every time there was an event like the visit of a VIP, I would be tasked with organising the function with music, dances and drinks. All participated wholeheartedly and made a success of the event, even to the extent of contributing willingly towards the funding of the function.
The entire community in the area would take an active part to ensure its success.
Even at the federal level, such happy events in the 60s were the norm and we even organised such merry events at the Prime Minister’s office complex. We had also organised such functions at Seri Taman, the residence of the then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. At that fun event, a PAS leader even joined in the joget dancing.
There was a bar then at the Parliament building and at the end of the day's sitting some of those who needed to quench their thirst and fraternise would gather round at this place. There was never anything untoward taking place in any of those events or occasions.
This was the fun and merry period where no quarters tried to impose their will on the others or tried to behave “holier than thou” towards others. We never even labelled anyone through their ethnicity or religious beliefs. All were treated the same.
We lived a happy life then, full of mirth and understanding and very much balanced in our approach to life. We worked hard and would let down our hair occasionally at these functions.
Even with all the merrymaking that took place, the country never experienced a crime rate as rampant as it is today. There was no corruption and cronyism.
But the early 80s was the turning point for the current state of affairs when the seeds that matured into this uncompromising stance were first planted. Suddenly the government, fearing of losing Malay support, embarked on this pseudo Islamic initiative. The “tudung” appeared on the heads of some Muslim women and spread quickly causing the government to impose this headgear on Muslim women members in the police and the armed forces.
This was the beginning of the current period of hypocrisy.
The identification towards ethnic and religious divide became starkly visible.
The process thus developed into being extreme and fanatical.
No attempt has ever been made to bring back the process of sanity into the community. The famous saying of Lord Acton is most appropriate in describing Malaysia today, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, "The Unmaking of Malaysia".   
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