We need a Saddam Hussein in Malaysia, says Asri in hitting out at ‘anti-Malay’ voices
PETALING JAYA: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has defended his remarks on preserving the Malays’ cultural and political dominance, suggesting that there is a free-for-all climate in Malaysia which only a strongman like Saddam Hussein can put a stop to.
He said it was time that authorities rein in leaders from among the minority communities who question the Malay dominance in an attempt to undermine the country’s national character.
“We never liked Saddam Hussein and his cruelties. But it was because of him that Iraq was not divided during his time,” he said, referring to the Iraqi dictator whose regime collapsed in 2003 following an invasion by US-led coalition forces.
Asri said Malaysia needed a strong, dominant leader to take on the “many thugs we currently have”.
“And we will look for a candidate,” he added.
“Sometimes, in a place with a lot of gangsters, the leader needs to be one of the gangsters as well,” Asri said at a Merdeka-related event at the state-run Kolej Universiti Islam Perlis on Sunday evening.
Saddam, who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for three decades, was accused of committing crimes against the country’s majority Shia as well as the Kurdish populations in the north. He was executed in 2006 after he was found guilty of crimes against humanity.
Asri also stood by his earlier remarks that Malaysia belongs to the Malays, and rejected accusations that non-Malays have been unfairly treated.
“We (Muslims) are anti-racism, this does not require explanation. Even the uneducated Malays know that Islam does not allow people to force others to accept the religion,” he said.
He said his own Islamic policies in Perlis have always emphasised justice and fairness to non-Muslims.
He cited as example Perlis’ stand on allowing meat from the Islamic ritual slaughter during Aidiladha celebrations to be distributed to non-Muslims.
“Many of my writings are in defence of non-Muslim rights in this country. You can read my articles on this topic. But now there is an imbalance. The government has no clear direction and everybody can speak up,” he said.
Asri said Malaysia’s national identity is Malay, adding that the Malays are “land owners” of the country who must be respected.
“There must be an identity. God created nations and tribes so that you can recognise each other. Everyone has an identity. Malays wear the Malay dress, not that there’s anything wrong with wearing the Indian dress. But our national dress is baju Melayu.
“Does that mean we have insulted other races? No. Europe has its ways, Thailand has its ways. Tanah Melayu has its ways,” he said, using a historical reference for the Malay peninsula.
Malaysia is for Malays, says Perlis mufti
PETALING JAYA: Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has criticised those he claims disregard the dominance of the Malays in Malaysia, saying the idea that all races are equal in moulding a nation’s identity does not exist in practice even in the advanced West.
He said in European countries, despite the emphasis on human rights and equality, the whites still dominate and influence the identities of the countries.
“A country has its identity. China is for Chinese, is India for the Chinese too? No, it’s for the Indians,” he said in a lecture at a mosque last night.
“What about Malaysia, Tanah Melayu? If China is for the Chinese and the Indian sub-continent is for the Indians, can Tanah Melayu be for all?
“Of course, justice is for all, but there must be a dominant race,” he said.
Citing the controversy over the teaching of the Jawi script, Asri said its inclusion in the syllabus is because it is part of the dominant race’s heritage.
He said in neighbouring Thailand, Malay citizens learn and speak the Thai language, including for Islamic studies, while countries such as Singapore and China expect their citizens to subscribe to a single national school stream.
Malaysia, on the other hand, said Asri, has given leeway to different communities to set up their own vernacular schools.
Asri said there seems to be a phobia towards anything that is linked with Islam, including in the controversy over Jawi.
The Jawi controversy was part of the outrage by Chinese educationists over the education ministry’s move to introduce khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus.
Asri said some Muslim leaders from the ruling coalition were eager to speak out in defence of those who are “anti-religion”, but chose not to speak up when insults were thrown at Islam.
He also questioned the silence of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu over remarks on the armed forces by tycoon Koon Yew Yin.
Koon in a recent blog posting said Malaysia’s armed forces personnel “are doing nothing except eating and sleeping”, and proposed that they be recruited as labourers in plantations. The businessman has since apologised for the remarks.
“I’m amazed that the minister in charge of the armed forces said nothing, he has been silent,” Asri said.
“They are very quiet and at peace, rahmatan lil alamin (mercy to the worlds),” he said, taking a jibe at a phrase promoted by Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs.