Thursday 9 August 2012

Religion, the new last refuge of the desperate — The Malaysian Insider

August 09, 2012
AUG 9 — Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, the essayist Samuel Johnson once said, referring to false patriots. In Malaysia, we can add religion to that list of refuge for those desperate to be relevant.

PAS has done it, saying a vote for the party is the ticket to paradise.

And now for the past two days, Umno-run Utusan Malaysia has been quoting Islamic scholars and a mufti to reinforce the point that it is “haram” (forbidden) for Muslim Malaysians to vote for the DAP and its allies because the party is against an Islamic state or hudud law.

It would seem that the ruling coalition, which has expressed confidence in getting back the states and parliamentary majority that it lost, is now resorting to religion to regain support from the Muslim majority in the country.

It would also appear that everything the establishment does these days smacks of desperation, from the arrests of whistleblowers to trotting out so-called religious leaders to attack political opponents.

Are Umno-aligned scholars mimicking PAS, using the pulpit to preach fire and brimstone and malign political foes just for victory at the polls?

No sticking to facts that BN’s policies have developed the country from an agrarian economy to an industrialised nation where services are now a major revenue earner?

Why resort to these religious leaders to press for votes? And why the name-calling, using terms like “kafir harbi” or belligerent infidels on a secular party?

Do any of these religious leaders think they are doing the MCA or MIC a favour by praising them for having accepted Islam’s supremacy in a multi-religious country like Malaysia? Is religion even a consideration when one votes?

Malaysia can do with a lot less religion in politics and the private space. And religious scholars who think their word is law. It isn’t law but just an opinion, and a pretty dodgy opinion at that.

Casting the ballot should be predicated on policies and track record. Any other ways of getting the vote is just a desperate move to keep power. And that includes using religion, be it Islam or any other faith. Using religion is desperate, dodgy and despicable.

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