THERE are three issues of which our Madani society should be concerned about and which require a deeper and more thorough conversation with responsible leaders and authorities.
Firstly, the announcement by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that official letters to government departments must be in Malay or that if written otherwise, will be returned to the sender.
This announcement had prompted the Sarawak state government to respond defiantly that they will maintain English as one of their official government communication languages and that the PM’s directive does not apply in Sarawak.
This is also contrary to DAP’s consistent support for the use of the English language. In fact, DAP – the biggest party in the unity government – had promised to return English as the “official language” and to allow Tamil and Mandarin to be used in state assembly and parliament proceedings.
These undertakings were published on their party official website whereby they had in the past even advocated an “English Day” where English will be allowed to be used freely to highlight the national seriousness to restore mastery and proficiency of the international language in Malaysia.
Below is an example of DAP’s official statement:
“DAP fully supports government efforts to raise English proficiency – not only in schools and universities –but in the country generally because of its importance as a global language in the era of globalisation and information and communications technology. English is the dominant language of commerce, of science, of the skies, of the internet and of opportunity.”
In case I am misunderstood, I must state that I am all for the usage of Bahasa Malaysia as the lingua franca and national language for the sake of our national unity. I am proud that I have mastered the usage of Bahasa Malaysia by having represented my schools as well as participated in inter-varsity debates using our official language.
My point is, why was this announcement not thoroughly discussed before it was announced?
Indeed, Bahasa Malaysia is our official language but English is the language of the world, and we are desperately trying to attract more FDI (foreign direct investment) from foreign nations now. By announcing that correspondence in English will be rejected, the wrong tone has definitely been set for potential investors.
Decision made in a vacuum
Was such an important decision discussed with DAP leaders or was there no prior consultation with other leaders – especially those from East Malaysia – where the English language is still used and recognised officially?
The next jarring tone was the announcement by the Education Ministry for all schools to demonstrate and observe a solidarity week in support of the Palestinians’ cause.
Again, I must make it clear that I am all for the Palestinian cause but to introduce or involve school pupils in a complicated international conflict in which many adults are also lost and confused is a sure NO!
This conflict is a serious and complicated affair. We have in the past forbidden university students to indulge in politics for fear that they would be distracted. How then can the Madani government introduce an activity that will have a tendency to sow hatred in young and impressionable minds?
Have we forgotten that we want our students to focus on their education? We have already “screwed our education” system with too much politics and political overtones. Are the destructions not bad enough?
Every new Education Minister that came in the past tends to politicise our educational system for their own political optics and narratives. Malaysians are jaded and would like to see apt and correct decisions made for our students and schools.
If we want to teach empathy and human rights, let’s do it as a subject and not give them an Israel or Hamas identity or background. We should be teaching about peace, tolerance and harmony among all religions, cultures and ethnicities instead of drumming up emotional support or propaganda laced with hate and warfare.
Need to stop ‘kafir-ring’ each other
Lastly, I would like to praise the Dewan Rakyat speaker for being firm, right and correct. He should have been made our Madani politician of the year when it was reported that Tan Sri Johari Abdul has banned lawmakers from bringing up issues and making statements related to “kafir” (infidels), “Zionists” and “Yahudi” (Jews) or any equivalent terms when speaking in the august house.
I had taken up the issue of “kafir” as a lawmaker and a lover of peace. I had spoken out strongly against the Pahang mufti when he labelled DAP as “kafir harbi” in 2016 when there was opposition to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (RUU355) back then.
I am repeating my concerns that “kafir”, “kafir harbi”, “kafir dhimmi” and the likes are not part of our legal concept and should not be used in the political or legal context arbitrarily and irresponsibly.
These concepts – if discussed publicly – may confuse and influence nubile minds, leading to more prejudices and even aggression or physical violence along such misconceived lines.
In the past, the PAS president Tan Sri Hadi Awang had labelled UMNO members as “kafir” while the then Pahang mufti had labelled DAP as “kafir harbi”. What next?
If we accidentally normalised or embraced this concept into our legal system, where do we go from here?
Who is to decide whether you’re “kafir harbi” (whose blood is legal) or “kafir dhimmi” (where tax is payable)?
What about those who started to refer non-Muslims as ‘kafir harbi’ and ‘kafir dhimmi’ in a derogatory manner? To less confused minds, they may be emphasising the ‘taxes’ to be collected or ‘blood’ that can be drawn next.
I know many have avoided discussing this issue as it is deemed religiously sensitive but as a responsible Madani and civic-minded citizen and leader of the country, we need the Madani authorities to step up and resolve this potentially explosive and dangerous issue.
Our neighbour Indonesia had started on the right footing when they stopped the indiscriminate kafir-ring and referred all as citizens.
In the past, I said this to a PAS state assemblyman in our Pahang State Assembly debate and I shall say it again: No one should play God! There’s a distinction between a true messenger of God who seeks the truth and upholds justice and a “madman” wanting to rule or dominate another.
Let’s not let the madman in us run wild and remind ourselves to fear the wrath of God! – Oct 27, 2023
Senator Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker was MCA’s former vice president from November 2018 to September 2023.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.