Prof. Rajib Ghani – A Chinese Christian governor Ahok was defeated in Jakarta’s governor election (Pekida Jakarta) after he manifested blasphemy got attention from the Islamic world especially its neighboring country Malaysia. Long applauded as a moderate and pluralist Muslim, Indonesia has its identity of resolving political debates about faith and the state matters by settling upon constitutional and democratic mechanism. Jakarta’s political drama worries Malaysia since Ahok’s case of blasphemy seems almost similar in fashion to the issue of RUU 355.
The political atmosphere in Jakarta has changed in the politics of religion. Ahok lost Muslims’ confidence as a governor of Jakarta when he was found guilty of blasphemy among the conservative Muslim and political elites. Conservative Muslims repeatedly condemn and regularly challenge the country’s position as a secular nation.
Ahok was insulting the Holy Quran, it became an issue of great importance to the Muslim in Indonesia and as a result, the Muslim community, a group of political elite and radical conservative organized street demonstration, and used all types of media channels, especially social media to ensure that Ahok will never win and never be the governor of Jakarta.
It seems also the shifting of political paradigm was taking place in Indonesia when Muslim voters agreed upon choosing Anies Beswadan, through hard-fought to be their Governor as long as Ahok is not in power.
However, some political analysts say, It might not be the same in Malaysia, the proposed amendment of sharia law, the RUU355 tabled by PAS president in the parliament recently cannot be the basis that the same unprecedented political event will be taking place in Malaysia. Religious factor is not the sole contributing factor of Ahok’s defeat. However, our concern is, will this political scenario will bounce Malaysian politics? Parliament proceeding was in havoc whenever the PAS President started to read the sharia law amendment, the RUU355. Non-Muslim members of parliament were yielding and mocking his speech during his introduction, Those who mocked and wildly reacted to the speech were those who were ignorance about Islam.
This incident makes the majority of Muslims angry. Some ulama’ say failure to support PAS proposal is tantamount to belittling Islamic law which is distinctly stated in the Quran and Hadith. In general, Muslims, especially the PAS members and Islamic believers perceived that the regime and those who rejected the proposal are also against Islam, including the MCA, a component party of the Barisan Nasional and the DAP that is perceived by most Muslims as a party that strongly propagates racial extremism and anti-Islam.
PAS president Hadi Awang in his press conference support the new elected governor Beswadan and he called upon all Muslims to take as an example of Ahok’s defeat and at the same time, he called upon all Muslims to unite and strengthen their faith. Ahok is a non-Mulim and radical politician who took his own way to retain the post as a governor by condemning the Quran and as a result, thousands of Muslim protestors came out on the street to condemn and severely attacked ahok’s character and credibility. Will it be the same in Malaysia?
The DAP, the MCA and some of the members of parliament were mocking an Islamic leader and belittling his effort to institute Islamic law for the improvement and yet the government simply takes the hand-off attitude pertaining to the subject.
The RUU 355 issue will be a fascinating and critical test of Najib’s administration and the democracy in Malaysia. Does the politics of religion will supersede the politics of race? By looking at the Malaysian political perspective, the importance of race predominates the nature of politics in Malaysia. For generations, the ruling government indulges its power through the power of race. The MCA protects the interest of the Chinese race, the MIC protects the interest of Indian race and the majority of the Malays are protected by the Malay political organization, UMNO. Presently, lead by Najib.
Surprised, In the midst of Malaysia’s internal political crisis, Hadi, a notable Islamic political leader was surprisingly coming out with his party’s proposal to amend the Syariah law which added the fuel to worsen the situation. Hadi’s voice might put the present government in a dilemma. The Malay are Muslims and the Malay are the majority race representing the Malaysian population. The Yang DI Pertuan Agung is a Muslim, the Sultans are Muslim. Although it may not be the subject of political influence in the long run, political hatred might be overwhelmed in Malaysian politics because of the government is failing to separate faith and politics.
The RUU 355 case cannot be taken lightly since there is a critical trial for a democratic organization in Malaysia. The country’s decided law, the Syria and civil law, the former is applicable for Muslims and the latter for the non-Muslim and also a Muslim will in the long run ignite political hatred among the believers.
Faith cannot be debated among those who hold a different religion. It has become an irony, in which the parliament, which consist of different race and belief system are free to debate on one belief system, It means also any suggested law and amendment, by the member of parliament can be discussed freely in the house of parliament. Would it be possible that a Muslim would allow their religion being insulted? A politician, should not look at things based on the opinion of law entirely. Human discretion yields fruitful ideas that can preserve the safety and benefit of human beings.
In the case of Bill 355, from the legal point of view, maybe it was not in line with the federal constitution, so it does not require to be tabled in parliament. But from the perspective of Islam, God’s laws must prevail without denying the importance of other faith. Should government neglect or disassociate itself with the opposition’s proposal of RUU 355 despite it being a significant factor can give strength to the government?