Is Anwar’s conversion of Hindu youth politically motivated or merely fulfilling duty as a pious Muslim?

I COULD not believe the video that was circulated on the social media of Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim converting a Hindu youth to Islam in a mosque in Klang yesterday (Aug 18).

It first I thought it was a fake video but then when there was no counter news regarding its non-authenticity then I realised it must be a genuine video.

But what was surprising is the fact that Anwar as the PM of all Malaysians would allow himself to perform the religious conversion himself. What happened to those religious officials?

The law in the country allows for conversion of a non-Muslim to Islam after attaining the age of 18 years. Those below this age must obtain the consent of both parents as was decided by the Federal Court in the case of Indira Gandhi.

Conversion to Islam is a normal process done by Muslim officials in the mosque or elsewhere. You don’t need a PM of the country to do the conversion himself.

Remember that Anwar is not an ordinary religious official but the PM of the country. I am just curious why Anwar would allow himself to perform this function of conversion.

‘Pandering to the right’

I understand that recent electoral performance of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) might have jolted him to some extent. The emergence of political Islam threatens to destabilise the unity government held by the PH-BN combine.

There were grounds to believe that Anwar might possibly pander to the side of conservative Islam to strengthen the unity government.

However, pandering to the right was thought in terms of Anwar coming out with policies and measures both economic and social to assist the poor Malays.

But it was beyond my wildest imagination that Anwar would drag himself to be personally involved in converting a Hindu youth.

I am not sure why Anwar subjected himself to do take such the lead role in the conversion process. Was the Hindu youth who converted a person who was special to Anwar? I am not sure.

Will Anwar’s engagement as the lead person in the conversion endear himself to political Islam as represented in PN?

Can a conversion of the Hindu youth or non-Muslim enhance the reputation and standing of Anwar in the eyes of Muslims here and outside?

First PM to perform conversion

I am not sure what was the real motive or motives of Anwar in converting the Hindu youth. While the conversion of the non-Muslim youth might give some political or religious credits to Anwar, it is doubtful that this turn to the right would endear himself to political Islam.

The Malay-Muslim right-wing forces in the country are quite used to the pandering of Anwar. Such an act would not have any effect on curbing the rise of political Islam.

Anwar would be naive to think that pandering in the form of a religion conversion would endear himself to the right-wing forces.

As the PM of all Malaysians, there is an expectation on the part of the non-Malays that Anwar is seen to be fair and just to all Malaysians. There was no necessity for him to be personally involved in the conversion.

Prof Ramasamy Palansamy (Pic credit: NST)

Non-Malays certainly don’t expect a sitting PM to take a leading role in religious conversion of a non-Muslim to Islam.

This is not what is expected from a PM who talks endlessly of the Madani government. No PMs in the past had dragged themselves to actually perform the religious conversion acts. Anwar is the first PM to do this.

What say you, DAP?

Nobody, both Muslims and non-Muslims, expected this from Anwar. By this act alone, Anwar ceases to be the PM of all Malaysians!

The very act of religious conversion might be dismissed as an ordinary affair but when a sitting PM actually performs the conversion, then this is something else with full of political implications.

Anwar’s involvement in the conversion has raised serious doubts about whether he can be the PM of all Malaysians. His often-repeated mantra that “Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dayaks and Kadazans are my children” suddenly makes no sense.

It would be interesting to see what the reactions from the non-Malay representatives in Pakatan Harapan (PH) would be especially those in the DAP and PKR.

Do they endorse Anwar’s lead role in the conversion of the Hindu youth? Is this the primary function of Anwar as the PM of the country? Or alternatively, those in the DAP or PKR are going to be silent on the matter? – Aug 19, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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