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Separate religion from politics and govt

Separate religion from politics and govt

YOURSAY | ‘We have allowed Pandora’s Box of religious extremism to open for too long.’

MP SPEAKS | The secular boogeyman

David Dass: This is a good essay by Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid. When moderates say secular, they do not mean irreligious.

Malaysians generally follow some religion or the other. Most Malaysians are religious. When we say secular, we say separate religion from politics and government. Why do we say that?

First, even if all Malaysians followed one faith, there would invariably be differences in interpretation and opinion of religious tenets. Even clerics disagree. Secondly, the country will move from being a democracy to a theocracy. That is where power and authority shifted to the clerics. We see that in Iran.

Thirdly Malaysia is a diverse country where more than 40 percent of the people are not Muslims. We are all held together by a Constitution that guarantees equality, non-discrimination and freedom of worship. To move from the Constitution to the syariah requires the abrogation of our Constitution.

That will not be possible – in law and from a practical point of view. Be as religious as you want. This should mean being good, compassionate, charitable, just and fair to all. But do not seek to impose one set of religious views on all.

Appum: Yes, this is a good piece. There is no shame in promoting secularism and our Federal Constitution prescribed that to our plural society.

Without secularism, it is difficult to promote moderation, and secularism here does not mean non-believers but only that religion is separated from government administration and government policies.

All are free to believe in whatever they wish to privately.

GreenCheetah0027: How do you put it into practice? We all know the issue and what could be done to deal with it. But we don’t even dare to point this out. Those who are not of a particular race or religion do not dare to raise it because of threats of mass violence against them for allegedly insulting race and/or religion.

Those who are of the race and religion, who know what is needed also, somehow, do not dare to speak out. They only dare write wonderful essays in English for the like-minded scaredy-cats to applaud them. Do they dare to publish in another language where the real change could be made?

I doubt so because they will probably face backlashes from their own, the conservative ones. So, we are back to square one, going in circles, avoiding the core issue. We only have ourselves to blame, unfortunately.

241122: This country was built on the foundation of participation and sharing amongst various races and communities. The Federal Constitution laid out that Islam is the official religion, and nobody can dispute this matter.

Although today’s population-wise, there’s a Malay and Muslim majority, it doesn’t mean the country is an Islamic country; it’s something which I believed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had unilaterally declared.

The freedom for the practice of religion is already guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. Or else why would Sarawak and Sabah join to form Malaysia then?

The problems we see now are due to politicians who swayed from the paths which had been set out by the founding fathers of this country, and in their aspirations to lead and forge the country’s future, created and imposed policies according to their “preferred inclinations”, made possible due to their political power.

Check and balance? Hardly effective. Today, what we see is the steam-rolling effects, resulting in extremism and bigotry, coupled with the disease of corruption. If this is not reversed, we can already imagine where this will lead to.

Everything rise and falls on leadership, and we see the effects of this for decades except that now we are almost at the brink of tipping over, which would most likely be happening had extremists won the 15th general election.

Thankfully, with this unity government, the country now has a chance to make a U-turn. Meanwhile, the rest of the world, including nations with people of a particular religion have moved forward progressively, yet preserving their religion and leaving Malaysia behind.

Quigonbond: It’ll be a challenge for the far-right to accept this article as extremism is not the opposite of secularism, rather faith-based governance is. Of course, they would challenge this assertion too.

Politicians and leaders can lean on their moral beliefs to make policies, but the content and process of law-making and enforcement are scientific and fact-based.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first prime minister, had already said our constitution is a secular one. That is the crux of the matter. This is not the first time this is happening. At the height of Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from the government and Umno, Dr Mahathir Mohamad unilaterally “turned” Malaysia into an Islamic state.

Newday: We hold a unique position in the world with our racial and religious mix. Unfortunately, we have allowed Pandora’s Box of religious extremism to be open for too long.

Our solution will be a unique Malaysian solution in which we borrow, use and combine the best bits of secularism and religion-peace, love, mutual respect, freedom of opinion and understanding.

There is room for all – fundamentalists/literalists, moderates, liberals, atheists, agnostics and even gnostic in a society based on secular ideals and the constitution.

We must be allowed to follow our ideals or faith as long as they are not imposed on others. That is all I wish for. Hopefully, this new government is the start of a free without-fear Malaysia.


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