Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Farish Noor Gives His Opinion on the "Battle for Time and Space"

Written by johnleemk on 11:04:56 am May 26, 2005.

Mack Zulkifli recently invited Farish A. Noor to write a guest column for his blog,, and this is the result. Quite outspoken for a Muslim; I can almost hear the right-wingers calling him out now. I've been meaning to write about this proposal to limit television/radio broadcasts during the call to prayer, and this looks like a decent opportunity.

The problem is, Farish Noor's essay seems to pretty much cover all the bases, including the "tyranny of majoritarianism". So instead, I'll focus on something else: the outrage that would occur if the author of the column had been non-Malay.

There would be people screaming for blood, I can assure you. "Ketuanan Melayu" and the mixture of mosque and state is still a pretty sensitive issue (and technically illegal to discuss under the constitution), and yet, even though these issues very much bear on our lives as Malaysian non-Muslims (if not our pockets as well), it's taboo for us to discuss them.

Yet, somehow, Malays can get away with it without people screeching for someone's blood. Why? Hehe, "ketuanan Melayu" of course! Speaking of the "tyranny of majoritarianism", the concepts of "no taxation without representation" as well as appropriately considering indirect effects both seem to be alien to your average defender of oppressive practices such as banning the broadcast of entertainment shows during the call to prayer. Sure, it doesn't directly affect non-Muslims, but who's kidding?

Do you have to be a rocket scientist to see that it's, as usual the non-Muslims footing the bill for policing this crap, or to see that it's the non-Muslims who will be affected more by the ban on entertainment during the call to prayer? I don't think so. When it can get to the point where this proposal is actually not being condemned in public, something has gone wrong.

If you're going to make us non-Malays pay for scholarships for Malays who can afford the fees, or give that Malay tycoon a discount on his new car, could you at least avoid infringing on what little rights we have left? It's as though we gave an inch, and now you take a mile. Is this what our forefathers had in mind when the social contract was signed?

I don't mind supporting the poor. Who the hell does? But when it comes to footing the bill for religions other than my own, footing the bill for scholarships and discounts to those who don't deserve them, and then being banned to even mention these things in public, then yes, I very much do mind.

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