Mariam Mokhtar: Does the mufti of Perlis have any non-Malay friends? (Comment, Malaysiakini)…


Does the mufti of Perlis have any non-Malay friends?

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COMMENT | Does the mufti of Perlis, Asri Zainul Abidin (above), have any non-Malay friends? As a man of the cloth, his position holds power and responsibility, but he lacks the open-mindedness and tolerance of a man living in a multi-racial, multi-religious, secular country.

If his report card had been compared alongside the performance report of the Pakatan Harapan ministers, Asri would have scored a miserable “F”.

Asri should be more competent and inclusive, but over the past fortnight, his divisive messages and racial rhetoric have portrayed him as a bitter person, seething with internal rage and jealousy. He is continuing the Umno-Baru policy of division and hate.

In 2020, wounds have to be healed and bridges among the various communities rebuilt. Those responsible for promoting Asri to his post should reconsider his appointment.

Asri appears to be anti-non-Malay/Muslim. Is his anger shaped by an unpleasant encounter with a non-Malay, during his childhood?

Christmas is the season of goodwill and most people wish to start the New Year on a positive, optimistic note. However, the Perlis mufti, thinks otherwise.

A few days before Christmas, Asri said that Muslims throughout the world had an obligation to buy Muslim-made products. He said that the duty of all Muslims was to buy Muslim products, patronise Muslim-owned shops and markets, and trade with Muslim nations.

Many of us would like to hear him tell that to the spouse of a former prime minister, who had a fondness for luxury handbags and watches.

Most members of the former Umno-Baru cabinet had a penchant for luxury watches, while their wives and children bedecked themselves in designer accessories, and drove around in imported luxury cars. These people would probably give Asri an earful for his “buy Muslim first” suggestion.

When people purchase goods, they don’t look at the religion (or race) of the manufacturer or supplier. Cost, quality, availability and after-sales service are prime motivators for purchasing goods.

The birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia, is awash with American capitalist products which range from table sauces, to anti-tank missiles and assault rifles.

Another prime consideration when buying goods, is the morality and ethics of their production. Can many Muslim nations, with their innate prejudices and inequalities, measure up to this? The allegation of using forced labour has already been a costly experience for the Malaysian glove maker, WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd.

Asri’s divisive trend continued after Christmas, when two days before the New Year, he claimed that vernacular schools, which he termed “insolent”, were responsible for creating racial tension.

What are the roots of his irresponsible statement? Is he envious of the quality of education and standard of discipline which many vernacular schools deliver? Many parents claim that national-type schools have failed their children.

Does Asri have any children? For at least four decades, successive ministers of education have used race and religion to increase their power base. They failed to provide sound, quality education for our children.

Malaysian education was once well-renowned throughout Asia and the world. Today, half-baked education policies, coupled with half-hearted teachers and administrative staff, have succeeded in providing bog-standard education.

Asri accused vernacular schools of being racist. My nephew, who went to a Mara boarding school, was beaten up by his teacher and other pupils, for speaking English.

He was accused of being unpatriotic and of trying to be a “Mat Salleh”. Sadly, his peers did not realise that practice makes perfect and he was merely trying to improve his English during term-time. The crab mentality persists in many Malays.

Some muftis, like politicians, are selfish and think of short-term goals, without considering the long-term implications on their flock.

If Asri had any non-Malay friends, he would realise that they value the importance of competition and meritocracy. The Ketuanan Melayu ideology has created many insecure Malays and Muslims, who are apt to blame the non-Malays for their own failures.

Muftis are human, and they also yearn to be popular with the masses. Politicians bribe with goods, cash and promises of position. A mufti promises the congregation paradise in the after-life, but only if they will listen to him. Desperate Muslims, and those who do not know their religion well, will grab the mufti’s offer.

If Asri had any non-Malay friends, he would realise that many went to national-type schools at a time when we had dedicated and committed teachers.

Today, the non-Malays (and Malays) who send their children to national-type schools have found that, with the bar being lowered, their children are not progressing, while many non-Malays are denied a fair chance to higher education.

Not everyone can afford international schools, but will Asri dare to call these to be shut down, instead of just attacking vernacular schools?

During the 60s and 70s, parents took their children out of vernacular schools and enrolled them in mission and national-type schools, because of the quality of education provided. Today, the reverse is true.

Many older Malaysians have a different perspective of the other communities because they interact with them and have a better understanding of people of different faiths and culture.

Asri should widen his circle of friends to include some non-Malays and non-Muslims.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). BlogTwitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.


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