I was asked by Mr. Lee, one of few colleague in my office which exchange joke with me everyday, he asked about one of the comment made by Marang MP which said that "non-muslim MPs should not interfere with Islamic matters". Personally, I don't like to talk about it, I am afraid that my view will upset some people. I wish on doing no harm. Before I elaborate further and put forward my case. I want to begin with a perspective, with which we should look into the matter.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious country, which does not have a replicate models elsewhere. This unique-ness present us with many blessings, for example if Malaysia is one ethnic from the start, we may not have mamak stall or char kuey teow. Many fusion of the culture produce positive and tasty things. But there is also another side of the coin, the unique-ness also present us with flaws and drawbacks. Especially when we want to assert our culture or our thinking into other group, the hardliners (fundamentalist and chauvinist on each side) are pushing into more polarization of opinions.
For one second, I think we should reflect how our forefathers have lay the bricks on building our nation. How they agreed to tolerate each other, agree to disagree, and forged a social contract which retain the stability. The Pribumi was given their special rights, and other races were given the permission to stay, to live, and to prosper. They were given citizenship and allowed to keep their culture, languages, religions, intact. This kind of tolerant were not seen in Indonesia, Thailand or even mainland China, where other races have to abandon their culture completely and assimilate with locals. They were not given rights to have special school with their own language. But in Malaysia its different, we are prospering in diversity and differences, and proudly I can say we thrived in doing so. We often compare ourself to other nations. Some want to derive our future from the US, they want to replicate US model here in Malaysia. Well, I suggest we read Howard Zinn's book on how Columbus killed the Arawaks, it was their history and it was ugly. By this, if we want to mold our future, we must do it ourself, our own way, we cannot derive it from others.
Of course it will be difficult. As Tun Dr. Mahathir once said "its impossible to please everybody". Technology also did not help in producing consensus among people. Henry Kissinger note this in his book, that the notion of truth is altered by technology. For instance Google altered your search according to your profile and search history, so two person searching the same subject will get different set of results. The rise of alternative media also in many ways distort our opinion, we have no control over informations today. This is of course have its good and bad side. For instance the trending news these past days is how to combat fake news on facebook. We have vast informations, mixed between right and wrong. The information feed into society today also were exposed to manipulations. So, people today have various informations, and various of truths, we don't have any universal truth. The result of this is polarization of views and very difficult to achieve consensus. It is okay actually to have multiple of views, and not agree on various things if the mindset is to live with each other, if we can respect each others choices. We can have division as long as we don't resort to violence and militarism. It is very critical to settle our disagreement using diplomacy.
Now, after having these 3 thick paragraphs on our perspective, lets look at the issue in our hand. The RUU335 concern about Shariah Court, so basically non-muslim is untouched by this change, because in our constitution the Shariah Court will only hear Muslim cases. It has been amended before in 1965 and 1984, nobody bat an eye during those days, and it hasn't become national polemic either. Why? First, they respect each others choices. Second, we don't have the kind of media that we have today. Our media today play on every issue, even restaurant menu can be a national debate today. Why? Ryan Holiday explain brilliantly in his book about the structure of the online media. He explain that many online media depend on page views, its their bread and butter. So they have to tailor their headline to be very provocative, nevermine if it is misleading, as long as people will click it. They does not concern over public anger or chaos, they don't have that accountability. If people went to riot, they does not care, leave it to the police, its other people job they say.
So, if we can have it on 1965 and 1984. I don't see the damage of it, if we have a revision today. I think its normal for any law to have revision, to be kept updated. If we can see things objectively, and does not fell to the game played by the media, this kind of thing should not be in the front page of every newspaper, everyday. I think there are much more important issue we have to be concern with. The multi-billion national scandal, the infrastructure, the free fall of the ringgit, can we have national debate on this kind of things?
Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said that he oppose the bill because "two legal system will tear the country apart". I don't know, I want to laugh or to cry. It seems like he does not reside in Malaysia for a very long time. The fact is the bill will not create two legal systems, we already have two legal systems in the first place since the country was born. If he want to abolish two legal systems, he should call Stephen Hawking and convince him to accelerate his research so that time travel is possible. Then he should travel back to the time when Shariah Court was founded and destroy it.
We have many things that are Islamic. We have Islamic banking system opposing conventional one. Nobody is talking that "two banking system will tear the country apart". We have Hong Leong Islamic Bank and Public Islamic Bank, why don't Malaysiakini publish a story that the bank should stop being Islamic to protect the non-muslim interest? Many non-muslim food manufacturer register for halal certification. Should we condemn them and asked them to go to their respective temples to get certification? It just absurd.
I lived in Malaysia for 22 years (minus 4 years in Russia), I think I can understand that racial issue played very well in our nation. Every issue in this country will be politicized and be seen on racial perspective. People like to discussed it, it served the online media very well, they got their clicks easily. It also served the politicians very well, they need an enemy, so they can be seen as doing a job to protect you. But, it fuel division and hatred. We demonized other groups, and perceived ours as sacred. Some people like to talk about Pribumi special right, they want to abolished them, we should have equal right they say. I can agree with that, but other races have to give up their right too to be fair, we should have one school system, we should use only one language, one religion, one culture, (no 1MDB please), lets become like Thailand or Indonesia, can we? Lets have an equal right for all.
See, its okay to embraced ideals, to envisaged the future our own way, to have dreams. But in the end we have wake up and face the reality, we lived in the imperfect world, we have to lose something to gain something. To live happily together we have to learn to be tolerant to each other, respect their choice and live with ours. If we strive to live in a perfect world, we will live our life unhappily. Lets embrace that Malaysia is perfectly imperfect in its diversity. Let us prosper together.