Malaysia: The pettifogging Jakim

All religions are branches of one big tree – George Harrison

The Oct 4 court verdict that ‘Allah’ can no longer appear in the Herald weekly publication has revealed more than meets the eye. Not only was the ruling a gross abuse of the judiciary, the decision also exposed the deep-rooted hatred the Malay zealots have for the non-Malays.

Leading the ‘hate the non-Malays’ campaign is the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, better known as Jakim, which has taken to inciting the Malays against the other races through the most despicable of ways, through the Friday sermons.

Post-the court ruling favouring Putrajaya in the Herad case, Jakim on Friday once again decided to play devil’s advocate. This time, it  claimed human rights abuses never happened in Malaysia.

Instead, in its Friday sermon, Jakim said complaints of human rights abuses against Malaysia (read Barisan Nasional government) was actually part of a masquerade to further the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) agenda.

This move, claims Jakim, was all about undermining Islam and that there was an international conspiracy to challenge the position of Islam in the country and the local rights groups particularly Commango, a coalition of NGOs campaigning for LGBT rights, were acting as its agents.

“As of recently, there is a concerted plan undertaken by certain quarters on the name of human rights. It is undermining and challenging the principles of freedom allowed in Islam.

“It is not only moved by quarters in the country, but, with the advent of new media, these groups are getting the support of international liberal groups,” read the sermon.

Is this Jakim’s modus operandi of raising awareness on Islam among the people, by twisting and manipulating the religion to achieve its own interest?

Does Jakim not know that spreading lies via religion no less a sin, as it continues to do, trying to hoodwink the Malays into believing that the superiority of Islam is under threat?

And how does promoting human rights threaten Islam’s standing, domestically and globally?

Threatening national harmony

Trying to dismiss the fact that Malaysia has no record of human rights abuses has only made Jakim a laughing stock, for its sheer desperation in trying to win brownie points from Putrajaya.

Or is Jakim being pressured to deliver the federal government’s stand on Islam, using all means possible?

Where human rights abuse goes, the world knows that Malaysia holds a shameful record; human rights groups and international human rights watchdogs have time and again taken the BN government to task for failing to uphold the tenets of human rights, as enshrined both in the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

Jakim does not have the guts to admit that the government has turned the country’s human rights commission Suhakam into a ‘toothless tiger’.

Suhakam’s many recommendations put forth by its first and second chairmen Musa Hitam and Abu Talib Othman respectively were never given due hearing by the government.

In 2008,  the accreditation sub-committee of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institution (ICC) demanded justification from Suhakam on why the human rights body must not be downgraded from the ‘A status to ‘B’.

Had this been done, it would have deprived Suhakam of certain access privileges within the United Nations system.

Suhakam was fortunate enough to retain its ‘A’ status after review by ICC in November 2009. But the ICC urged the Malaysian government to amend Suhakam’s founding laws and make it more independent.

And still Jakim dares abuse the Friday sermon to claim Malaysia is free from human rights abuses?

Trying to push its political agenda by disrupting the already fragile harmony and unity between Malaysians of different faiths is going to spell disaster, both for Jakim and for the nation.

Jakim should avoid pettifogging

It is in Jakim’s best interest that it focuses on its ‘core’ business, that of ‘Islamic development’ instead of indulging in pettifogging and attempting to act smart on issues like human rights that are alien to the department.

Denying the people freedom of religion, abuse of police power, deaths in police lock-ups and denying the natives of Sarawak the right to their native customary lands are some of the human rights abuses taking place in Malaysia.

Jakim’s macho outburst via the sermon is not going to win it any respect. It is a fact that certain provisions in the Islamic family law do discriminate Muslim women, be it polygamy, divorce, maintenance and child custody, all which benefit men and disadvantage women.

But Jakim is not willing to learn from its mistakes and wisen up. Three years ago it organised a forum for 800 civil servants to discuss the controversy sparked by a High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word Allah.

Unfortunately, the continuous human rights abuse in Malaysia has never mattered to Jakim. To deny reality and spread lies in the name of religion puts Jakim to shame, both at home and the world over.

Needless to say, Jakim’s agenda is not about promoting Islam or championing the welfare of both humans and animals. Rather, the department finds it more alluring to ‘strip’ under the false guise of advocating Islam.