October 2, 2017, Monday
KUCHING: The recent ‘Muslim-only launderette’ incident in Muar,
Johor is another troubling sign of a country in which religious and
racial intolerance is rising to alarming levels, says state PKR chairman
He said the owner of the launderette, and those similar to him, are
emboldened to act in such a way purely because the government has never
taken any action against similar incidents in the past.
“To make matters worse, the Johor Islamic Council advisor and Johor
Mufti supported his action. It looks like this is the tip of the
iceberg, with another Muslim-only launderette being reported in Perlis,”
said Baru in a press statement yesterday.
The Ba Kelalan assemblyman joined a chorus of rational voices in Tan
Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, Dennis Ignatius and the Rev Datuk Justin
Wan in response to several recent incidents in Peninsular Malaysia.
“The telling thing about the state of the leadership of this country
is that there were very few voices against this discriminatory practice;
among the few who spoke up being Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, Perlis Mufti
Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and Parti Amanah Negara vice-president
Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus.
“Where was the voice of the Prime Minister who is supposed to lead
this nation, and who boasts to the overseas community about Malaysia
being a model country of moderation? His squeak was only heard after the
royal telling-off by the Sultan of Johor, who did not mince his words,
saying the owner’s thinking was ‘sick’.
“Taking the cue from the Sultan, the PM could only offer his usual
hollow platitudes about the ‘country’s desire to nurture a united,
harmonious, moderate and tolerant society’. It has not escaped notice
that he did not make a stand before the Sultan did – this is yet another
sign of his lack of leadership qualities and moral courage.”
Baru added the cancellation of a beer event in Kuala Lumpur is also
an indication of the slide towards intolerance and extremism.
“The initial reason given (for the cancellation) was that PAS had
objected to the festival, saying that it was immoral, could lead to
‘un-Islamic acts such as sex outside marriage, criminal activity and
even rape’ and turn Malaysia into the ‘largest vice centre in Asia’.
“These are spurious reasons and for DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) to
make their decision based on them is proof of the government pandering
to extremist groups and their religious beliefs.
“The festival had been held at least twice before with no untoward
incidents, and this cancellation has not only cost a huge loss of
revenue to the organisers and the country, it has further damaged our
image internationally as well.”
Baru said unsurprisingly, a few days after the cancellation, the
police stepped in to explain that the reason for the cancellation was
because of a security risk and that extremists were planning a terror
attack on the event.
“This ever-evolving excuse game played by the authorities has become
an accepted scenario and nobody bats an eyelid when this happens. It
appears that only in Malaysia does the government cancel events for fear
of terror attacks, and even then, these cancellations are selectively
imposed. It is the job of the police to keep all these events safe.
“By recommending events be cancelled, the authorities are not only
playing into the hands of these extremists and giving them unwarranted
power, they are also taking the easy way out of their duties. What about
standing up to these extremists and showing them that we cannot be
He said renowned Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol, who was recently
detained in Malaysia, said it best when he wrote about his experience in
the country: “By policing religion, the authorities are not really
protecting it. They are only enfeebling their societies, raising
hypocrites and causing many people to lose their faith in or respect for
“I must applaud Minister (of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and
Sports) Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah for the stand he took that Sarawak
would have no issue with holding Oktoberfest; I urge more leaders to
take this sensible and rational view.
“Sarawak and Sabah have many non-Muslims and our festivals, such as
Gawai and Kaamatan, involve alcohol such as ‘tuak’. As far as I know,
these celebrations have not brought about any of those problems that PAS
is so concerned about. They (festivals) are an integral part of our
culture and identity, and we must be vigilant to protect them from the
creeping influence of the moral and religious policing that is happening
in Peninsular Malaysia. Will we be told one day that Gawai celebrations
must be stopped in order not to offend the Muslim sensibilities?”
He also said Malaysians need their leaders to show by example that
Malaysia still has the spirit of acceptance and harmonious co-existence
that was evident in the early days.
“I believe that this is what most Malaysians wish for, but the
majority does not dare to speak up for fear of being labelled un-Islamic
or being targeted by extremist groups. Our leaders must follow the
example shown by the Sultan of Johor, and emphatically reject extremist
elements and discriminatory and bigoted practices that are creeping into
“As said by the Coalition on Plan of Action for Malaysia (GBM):
‘Malaysians need to think hard where this country is going’. The longer
we wait to take action, the more difficult it will be to undo the damage
done to the country’.”
~ Borneo Post