Beer, boobs and books

Mariam Mokhtar
| June 22, 2012
Umno and the Islamic departments seem oblivious to their abuse of authority and power.

The Malays are doomed, and Umno together with the various Islamic departments will have a hand in their downfall. From beer to boobs and body art to books, the mind and morals of Malay Muslims are subjected to continual heavy bombardment.

Is it any wonder that the Malay has ceased to be a critical analyst? He feels burdened when he tries to think what is best for him and for society as a whole.

The Malay with an alternative viewpoint fears being branded by the rest of the Malay community and is frightened of expressing his views in public. Anyone who thinks Malays are privileged is sadly misguided.

It is a fact that the non-Malays are treated unfairly. They are denied opportunities in education, finance, business and housing, yet their issues are systematically being addressed.

Likewise the plights of the migrant workers who are abused by their employers, people who are tortured in detention, or the families of men who mysteriously died in police custody, are being investigated by the opposition, civil society groups and NGOs.

It is absurd to think that Malays are superior when in fact they are being betrayed by Umno and extremist groups linked to Umno.

Malays cannot openly criticise members of royalty even if the latter are responsible for assault, have accrued gambling debts or abuse their positions of trust. Malays do not have freedom of religion, a right accorded to each Malaysian citizen and which is enshrined in the constitution. Malays are judged by two laws – civil and syariah.

Some Malay boys are sent to boot camps to toughen them up and remove their effeminate tendencies in an attempt to resolve the confusion with their sexuality.

Malays who do yoga, dance the poco-poco and who attend funeral services to pay respects at the eulogy of their non-Muslim friends, are ostracised.

The beer consumed by Kartika Dewi Sukarno mirrors the hypocritical ways of the Umno brand of Islam, practised in Malaysia. When she was sentenced, Kartika accepted her punishment and asked to be whipped in public so that others could learn from her mistake.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development at the time, and the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein were taken aback.

Stung by international criticism, they were forced to backtrack on the harsh punishment. The government machinery tried to defend their untenable position, but the damage to the image of a ‘moderate’ Muslim nation, was done.

Whilst Kartika was subjected to intense pressure, Muslim directors of beer companies have escaped unscathed and Muslim patrons of high-class establishments, who are the children of ministers, their cronies or royalty, do not get caught by the moral police.

The privileged ones

Growing up is trying for the average Muslim teenager. Holding hands is forbidden as is eye-contact. Going on a date, or sending and receiving Valentine cards are risky pursuits.

A Malay career woman living on her own, once confided that she was fearful of any household appliance breaking down because she was afraid that someone might report her to the moral police for being alone in her apartment with the workman.

Her friend had been the victim of a malicious attack, by someone whose affections she refused. He had phoned the moral police to exact revenge. Are the deaths, from people falling off balconies whilst escaping the moral police, justifiable?
When the performance of ballet dancers, the Black Eyed Peas group or Erykah Badu’s tattoos were banned in Malaysia, they made international headlines.

Muslim groups complained that the clothing of the ballet dancers was inappropriate, that Muslims should be banned from the Black Eyed Peas concert because it was financed by a brewery, and that Badu was not a suitable role model for young Malaysians.

The groups which are so vociferous in the condemnation of these artistes are silent about the antics of the MPs who both condone and commit acts of underage marriage (paedophilia), incest, polygamy, rape, corruption, fraud and abuse of human rights.

The latest act of harassment, by the Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (Jawi), against the Borders bookshop store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz is worrying. The following day, Borders was again raided and another Muslim female employee targeted.

Nik Raina, her two colleagues and a Borders’ appointed lawyer attended a Jawi investigation as requested, and were issued arrest warrants. The Home Minister and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Islamic Affairs have chosen to remain silent about this affair.

Umno and the Islamic departments seem oblivious to their abuse of authority and power. Who will be blamed, when companies refuse to employ Muslims so that they can operate smoothly and avoid sensitive confrontational issues to do with religion?

Food and beverage, the hospitality and transport industries including publishers and bookshops appear to be in Umno’s sights. At which point will harassment also spread to the non-Muslims?

The only privileged people are the Umnoputras and their Malay and non-Malay cronies. The bottom of this heap is occupied by the Malay women who carry the angst of Malay Muslim issues but are burdened further by a Syariah court which has repeatedly failed to protect their rights.

The Malaysian activist, Norhayati Kaprawi, once said of Malaysia’s Muslim society: “It’s full of fear. If you don’t follow the mainstream you will be lynched.”

The cultivation of fear in both Muslims and non-Muslims, to control the behaviour of the population, will ultimately backfire. By then, Umno will have reached a point of ‘no-return’.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist