Wan Azizah, ‘not in the near future’ is unacceptable By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 15, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Unlike so many of them, however, I also take issue with the term
‘Islamic state’, and for the very same reason: there is nothing Islamic
about a state. The two concepts have nothing in common.”
- Mehdi Hassan
COMMENT | Surely anyone who reads
my columns would know that I have to comment on what PKR president Dr
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in that Al Jazeera interview with the always reliable Mehdi Hassan whose work I have followed for years.
Before I begin, a shout-out to Dean Johns whose column ‘Blasphemy by believers?’
is a timely reminder that a wide range of religious extremists exists
amongst us and we should confront them at every turn. I look forward to
reading more of Johns’ columns, especially those where he hoists the
We know, or we think we know, the kind of “Islamic” politics that PKR
advocates. Readers should know the kind of politics Mehdi Hassan
advocates. A good place to start if one is not familiar with Mehdi’s
work is his article in the New Statesman, ‘There is nothing Islamic about a state’, where he fires the first of many salvos against the duplicity of many Islamists who argue otherwise.
The following is a brief snippet - “...contrary to popular Muslim
opinion, there is not a shred of theological, historical or empirical
evidence to support the existence of such an entity. Its supporters tend
to mumble vaguely about this or that verse from the Quran, or make
vacuous references to the life example of the Prophet Muhammad. But the
Quran prescribes no particular model of government, nor does it detail a
specific political programme that Muslims must adopt. In fact, the
concept of the state appears nowhere in the Quran.”
"We want the votes of the people on the ground," the PKR president
said, which is the kind of deflection that really means, “We want the
Muslim votes on the ground.” Far too many friends from Islamic parties
have warned me that it would unwise to dismiss PAS and the hold the kind
of Islam it propagates has on many Muslims in Malaysia. They fact they
have become to the political mainstream is the fault of the opposition.
I get the conundrum politicians like Wan Azizah are in. In our
comfortable echo chambers, we are not exposed to Muslims who believe
that Islam needs to be defended - not necessarily by Umno - and that
Islamic political parties have to pay attention to the concerns of those
Muslims. DAP insiders tell me of the brewing tension between the
evangelical wing and the traditional DAP vox populi, and while the DAP
can abandon religious rhetoric in favour of secular ideas and be assured
of support (so far), the Malay/Muslim components are not so lucky.
PKR has always been the weak link in any secular moves that the
opposition has attempted to make. Attempting to balance the zealotry of
PAS and with the more secular agenda of the DAP was far easier when the
late Tok Guru was around. While the DAP intruded into mosques and
religious terrain of the Islamists, their counterparts were working
their way into the mainstream of oppositional politics.
Those of us were skeptical of the ‘PAS for All’ kool aid were
dismissed, and while there is some truth that PAS was not as zealous of
its Islamic agenda during the feel-good era of Pakatan Rakyat, the
reality is the truth of the compromises and backroom deals that would
have shocked the average opposition supporter were well hidden. When
exposed by political operatives from the MIC and MCA, they were of
course shouted down as “running dogs” of the Umno establishment.
PAS is the gatekeeper to those votes that a political party like PKR
needs. During the heady days of the reformasi movement, it was PAS that
was the main player in Anwar Ibrahim’s moves against the establishment. I
made many friends from PAS in those days and although we are still very
friendly, we know where the other is coming from and we know that we
will never find common ground.
This lie that there is a difference between “god’s law” and
“implementation” is the strategy of those so-called “moderate” Muslims
who pay lip service to the idea of secularism. This idea that when the
situation is “perfect” then we can have hudud is absurd.
Think about it. If the situation is “all the things that are supposed
to be in line of justice are there”, then why would there be a need to
inflict such barbarity as stoning, amputations and beheadings? Most of
the civilised world, there are moves against such sanctions as the death
penalty and here this belief in an Islamic utopia where all is
supposedly just, criminals would be stoned, limbs amputated and
beheadings in public squares is something that is longed for.
Some of you may think that “not in the near future” saves you from
living in a time where these types of Islamic punishments are not common
or even that as a non-Muslim, you would be spared from such
Go back to what I wrote in ‘This is what an Islamic state looks like’,
about power and faith - “However, forcing non-believers to submit to
your authority, especially if they hold religious beliefs of their own
or do not wish to be bound by any religious dogma, demonstrates power on
a fundamental level. It is brute force, a demonstration that non-Muslim
beliefs are inconsequential and that they are bound to Islamic law even
if they choose not to believe. They will be forced to acknowledge that
even if they do not submit, they are not beyond Islamic law and will
suffer the consequences of deviations from such religious observances.”
As I have argued relentlessly in many articles, there is not one
shred of empirical evidence that non-Muslims are not affected by the
laws imposed on their fellow Muslim Malaysian citizens. Do you really
think that Islamists would be satisfied with keeping their religion
confined only to other Muslims? Do you really believe that after decades
of Islam invading our public and private spaces that suddenly there
would be this ideal version of Islam that co-exists with the various
other faiths in this country?
I mean, come on. When political prisoner Anwar talks about
“empowering the syariah courts” how does this jive with his waffling
about “holistic reform”? No wonder PAS is confused. At least, they are
upfront about their zealotry. But then again, they do not have to cater
to the base that PKR wants a share of.
While the Perkasa president engages in water sports, this idea that
anyone is terrified of the judgment of the almighty is pure bunkum.
Anytime a politician talks about religion, always assume he or she is
lying and this goes for any religion.
Think about this for a moment. The PKR president claimed, “As a
Muslim, hudud law must be accepted as God's law, but that implementation
was a different matter altogether”, which merely means that according
to Wan Azizah, the only issue that separates the beliefs of PKR, DAP and
Amanah Muslims from those of PAS Muslims is “implementation”.