For the PAS youth leader to proclaim and presume that all Muslims subscribe to hudud laws is similar to the situation where, for instance, the Catholics in Malaysia were to make it a law that all Christians, including Prostestants like myself, wear the cross. While I am sure any power-wielding Catholic party is not so foolish as to do such a thing, I am using this as an example to show the tremendous problems of making religious values into laws for everyone. (Another example would be for an elected Christian sect leader to make it a law that all Christians can only worship on Saturdays).
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Don't Let PAS Frame The Religious Debate
Ideally, in any healthy democratic country, state and religion should be kept separate and this is enshrined in our constitution where we allow for the freedom of religious worship and belief. By implication, even atheists who believe in a materialistic world have a right to their beliefs as long as they do not harm others and themselves.
Based on the latest controversy of PAS revealing its true colours, I think the best strategy is to counter a religious premise (hudud laws) with another religious premise (the freedom of every God-created person to love and worship God is a freedom that God grants out of a true, genuine love reminiscent of a father's unconditional love for his children).
Here is the deep deception which religious fanatics are trying to deceive all faithful Malaysian citizens: that the acceptance of secular law is an acceptance of godless laws, i.e a system of justice without god in the centre of judgement. This is false and against the spirit if not the letter of the constitution. We have to obey traffic laws and laws of commerce but if, you as a member of your religious fraternity, wish to conduct business according to your Syariah principles, well and good. Nobody is stopping you until and unless you impose your principles and laws on other people (who may be even more spiritual than you.)
In conclusion, leaders in the DAP and Keadilan have to intelligently engage PAS in this crucial debate. And all Malaysians have to deal with the root of this issue, which is not so much about secular laws versus religious laws.
Don’t let PAS frame the debate. The actual debate is essentially this: Should religious practices be imposed on people who do not share the same religious interpretations? If the answer is a resounding No!, then the next question is: Can the practice of religion (and the love of God) be the free will of its practitioners or is it best to enforce it through punishment and penalties? The answer to this question will resolve the issue of whether Malaysia or any of the five states in which PR rules is an Islamic state, a Christian state or a secular state.
Postcript: The only practical solution, as I see it for this country, is for a secular state and its basic laws to overide the draconian laws of any religious group. Even if 9 out 10 Muslims want to have hudud laws legislated in any state, the basic human rights of that minority single Muslim citizen should be protected by the law.