Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Separation of Mosque & State Infringes on Malays' Way of Life?

Written by johnleemk on 11:01:08 am May 17, 2005.
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Note: This is part of a series in which I rebutt remarks I disagree with posted on the malaysia-today.net May 2005 debate.

This article is in response to the following comment:

I agree with 1:49. Never did muslims say non-muslims can't comment on issues concerning Islam that affect them.

It's just that we see too many uncalled for remarks spewing all over the place over matters that are not of any consequence whatsoever to the disbelievers that subsequently trigger all the ludicruous postings hitting back.

Just as non-muslims do not want anything adverse to affect them, muslims too DO take offense when you keep insisting that muslims should also adopt Secularism, no ifs no buts, BECAUSE THAT WILL INDEED INFRINGE ON OUR WAY OF LIFE - HOW COULD WE WHEN OUR GOD TELL US OTHERWISE?

So don't tell us how to lead our life and we have no motivation to tell you off what we think how you should lead yours.

ON ISSUES OF MORALS, EVEN UMNO HAS TO FOLLOW THE FLOW OF THE MAJORITY IN THIS DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY.

Unfortuntely, I do not understand what is wrong with the "disbelievers" commenting on occurrences in Malaysia. This is Malaysia. This is our country, not just yours. We are citizens of Malaysia. We have one vote each, just like you do. As long as an issue involves our government, it involves us. If there is no separation of mosque and state, and a portion of our taxes are actually diverted to the mosques, then actually, yes, we "disbelievers" very much do have the right to discuss how our money is being spent.

Yes, like it or not, we have a say in how our money is being appropriated, and it is not very heartening for us to see it being allocated to projects such as morality squads or debating the propriety of MAS stewardesses' uniforms. I would rather have it spent on at least something more enriching to all Malaysians, such as scholarships or rural development. Our lives could one day be saved by a doctor, Malay or non-Malay, who studied on a scholarship, after all. To see our taxes being spent on rather petty issues is to indeed affect our way of life; we do not benefit from these activities at all (at least bumiputra scholarships and subsidies could in a very limited sense be viewed as profitable to all). We might as well demand our taxes back, is it not?

As for secularism, you misunderstand. Separating mosque and state merely means an avoidance of such blurring of the lines that you can never tell which is the mosque and which is the state. And indeed, how can you, when it is your money used to build that mosque, your money to equip that morality police squad? What we are asking for is that we not have Islam infringe on our way of life, not the other way round. Even mild secularisation would not entail changing the official religion from Islam or a completely atheistic government. All we are asking for is to stop taking non-Muslims' money wantonly for projects that benefit only Muslims. You can never fully separate religion and state in Malaysia, anyway, and perhaps it may be for the best. After all, even the UK's official religion is still Anglicanism (but last time I checked, the British taxpayer doesn't finance the building of Anglican churches).

The comment "don't tell us how to lead our life and we have no motivation to tell you off what we think how you should lead yours" really sounds out of place when you consider that these taxes do infringe on our lives, because a portion of them go to projects that do not benefit us in any manner. How can this not be infringing on our lives? With that money I could buy a new PC or school uniforms, or maybe even more, if I'm in a higher tax bracket.

And the closing remark, well, it all depends on your perspective. Some view democracy as nothing more than a tyranny of the majority; a way for the majority to force the minority to be subservient to the ruling elite. Others view democracy as an amplifier for the voice of the minority, so it is not drowned out by authoritarian clamping down. It's really a matter of personal belief, but me? I'll stick with the latter viewpoint. You never know when you could be in the minority. Live and let live, I say.


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