Marina Mahathir wrote in a recent column that for any candidate seeking to be voted in this general election, the following are good and civil traits:

1. Be nice, be gracious, be polite - rudeness makes you look ugly.

2. If you disagree with someone, fine. But disagree courteously and intelligently, and do not just bad-mouth them.

3. If you do not think that someone is right, give your reasons why.

4. At least pretend that your audience is smart, and live up to them.

5. If you really think violence is the answer, we will find you a ticket to Syria, where you can indulge in all that you want to.

6. If you really think you are a defender of Islam, we will get you a ticket to trail the Republicans on their election campaign. We will even get you a spot on Rush Limbaugh’s show, where you can do your defending thing.

7. Do suddenly stop kissing babies and hugging old people. Seriously, we are not buying it.

8. Leave your expensive watch at home if you are going to sympathise with how people are coping with their monthly expenses. Unless you are going to donate the cost of the watch to some worthwhile cause.

9. Lower your volume. Shouting something stupid does not make it smarter.

10. Tell us what your principles in life are, and how you aim to stick to them.

My only addition is that no serving member of parliament should lie publicly. It is worse if one is a member of the cabinet. And because of such lies, I would argue that we need a ‘truth-o-meter’ which the CNN uses to validate claims by US presidential candidates.

NONEI am boiling mad because Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (right), the so-called minister responsible for parliamentary and legal matters, was quoted by theSun as saying: “None of the nation’s past prime minister (have) ever declared Malaysia a secular state ...  the only sitting prime minister who (has) made a statement on the issue was ... (Dr) Mahathir Mohamad, who declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state.”

Since we do not have the privilege of a truth-o-meter service in Malaysia, allow me to assume that role since my column is also called ‘Truth Matters’.

The ‘Islamic state’ lie

I was first educated on the Islamic state issue when the Muslim Professionals Association hosted a public talk on ‘Who needs an Islamic state?’.

They had a guest speaker from the UK, obviously well versed on the political dialogue on the Islamic state issue and who argued that in modern civil society, no one really needs an Islamic state. It has never really existed, other than in the minds of idealists and proponents.

While I support all kinds of idealists, there must be enough realism when we translate ideals into ideas, with all the political implications and ramifications considered. I have already written a number of columns on this issue.

And together with the Islamic Renaissance Front, OHMSI will co-host a dialogue on this issue, especially to educate Christian voters. Those interested may register to attend. The venue can welcome up to 2,000 participants.

Nazri is no young and upcoming politician. He is a moderate in Umno and a firm supporter of the party leadership, but I cannot excuse his gaffe - because he is a minister, a lawyer and, worst of all, the minister assigned responsibility for Parliament.

Therefore, I conclude he is merely being an idiocrat; like many others in Umno. Basically, an idiocrat reinterprets the truths of law, by refusing to submit to the original context of historical evidence, and instead promotes a truth by law; by the sheer force of interpretive privilege of authority.

That shift in the presumption of ‘truth interpretations’ is reinforced by sheer authority power and the execution of interpretation. Then, these promoters seek enforcement agency compliance of all such interpretive bias of truths.

Two examples will make my anti-thesis. First, when Mahathir was PM, he was smart enough never to use the words ‘the Islamic state’ because all his speech-writers knew the full implications of this idealistic concept in the history of Islamic dialogue.

mahathir pak lah angry 190508Recently through he did, at least as reported by mainstream newspapers, the same ones which refused to publish anything he said when he was opposed to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership of the government.

So, is Mahathir really serious, especially when he is speaking off the cuff and appears to agree with ‘the two Alis’ who have lost much credibility?

Second, does not the so-called minister of parliament know about the Supreme Court decision in the case referred to by Karpal Singh in the Malaysiakini report: “A five-man bench of the Supreme Court (equivalent of the present Federal Court which replaced the Privy Council) presided by then head of the judiciary Salleh Abbas in 1988 in Che Omar bin Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor, clearly stated the law in the country was secular.

“That being the position declared by (the) high authority, it must follow inevitably that the country was a secular state and not an Islamic state, as a country having secular laws could not be an Islamic state.”

My own argument is that the framers of the constitution were very smart people and even included a Islamic judge from Pakistan but they chose to avoid the two concepts of secular and sacred.

Did they not know what they were doing, or do we assume that we are smarter than them?

KJ JOHN is part of a community of thinkers and actors who want to see truth and reconciliation in the broken world of ours. His NGO for this work is the Malaysian Institute of Development and Asian Studies or MiDAS@universities.