COMMENT: When G25 member Tawfik Ismail called for the Malaysian Islamic development Department (Jakim) to be dissolved, one of the many government people to spring to Jakim's defence was Minister in the Prime Minister's Separtment (PMD), Jamil Khir Baharom.
Jamil said that abolishing Jakim would go against the Federal Constitution and he urged all parties to respect the constitution.
Why is it so difficult for the ministers, and Perkasa, to understand that Tawfik wants people to uphold the constitution. Tawfik has nothing against Islam being the official religion of Malaysia. He does not, as one feckless critic suggested, want to introduce whisky-swilling Muslims to Malaysia.
Jamil may have suggested that people respect the constitution, but the machinery of the state and its leaders, continually ignore the constitution. For instance, how will Jamil defend these more notorious cases?
1 The PM who triggered the constitutional crisis of 1988, and who destroyed the independent judiciary.
2 Article 10 states that all Malaysian citizens have the right to free speech, and free expression, and also the right to peaceful assembly. Today, individuals are charged with sedition, and newspapers like The Edge, Malaysiakini and The Star are raided by the police.
3 The government is coy about fulfilling, the terms of the 1963 Malaysian Agreement. Sabah and Sarawak are not states. They should be accorded nation status, on a par with Malaya.
4 PAS president Hadi Awang is desperate to enforce the Syariah Criminal Code, but he does not seem to be aware that this will go against the Federal Constitution. Moreover, he is content to play "hudud games" with Najib Razak, just to ensure that Umno Baru is kept in power, and to make fence-sitting Malays more confused than ever.
5 Islam is the religion of Malaysia, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the country, including in Sabah and Sarawak. So why did the government confiscate some Christian CDs from Jill Ireland, a Melanau, while she was in transit, at the Sepang Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), on her way to Sarawak, from Indonesia? The CDs which were for personal use, had titles which included the word "Allah".
6 The government seized several thousand bibles, destined for East Malaysia, because they contain the word Allah. The government claims that the word Allah is only for Malay Muslims.
7 In a further development after the Allah scandal, the Herald was ordered to stop publishing in Malay. Cynics will claim that these cases have nothing to do with religion, but are about keeping a hold on the Malays.
8 The constitution outlaws gender discrimination, and guarantees freedom of expression and movement, the right to privacy, a livelihood, and living with dignity. So, why are transgenders, who are mostly Malay Muslims, targeted by the government?
9 Bodies of people have been snatched from funeral parlours, from time to time. Why should non-Muslim families have to seek redress in a syariah court?
10 Animals are featured in many mythologies. In Malaysia, the frog played a central role in our constitution, because in 2009, three frogs, triggered a major constitutional, monarchical, and democratic crisis. Least said, soonest mended, about the events of 6 February 2009, but Perakians will understand only too well.
So why take it on the people if they feel that Jakim and the government are intruding into their private lives, and disrespect and ignore the constitution!