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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — A recent academic survey over Johor residents revealed that the state’s residents are increasingly swayed towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam, Singapore’s Straits Times reported today.
The survey by research centre ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute said three-quarters of Malays there support the implementation of the controversial Islamic penal code of hudud, while over half (57 per cent) wished it would apply to all Malaysians regardless of religion.
Rashaad Ali, an analyst with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told the paper that Malay-Muslims in Malaysia would support hudud implementation “solely on the basis that it is ‘Islamic’ and their identity as a Muslim almost obligates them to lend support”.
A previous survey released by independent pollster Merdeka Center in 2014 showed that 59 per cent of respondents think Muslim-majority Malaysia is not ready to implement hudud.
Slightly more than half polled by Merdeka Center, however, support hudud, at 53 per cent.
The ISEAS report among others revealed that Johor folks may not necessarily agree with its ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar’s view on Arabisation, federal Islamic agency, and Islamisation.
This comes despite 94 per cent of Malays agreeng that “the Johor Sultan is a good guardian of Islam in the state”.
In September, the Malay Ruler had ordered a Muslim-only laundry to stop the discriminatory practice, saying Johor “is not a Taliban state”. He had previously expressed concerns over his subjects who chose to embrace Arabic cultures and customs over Malay ones.
Last month, the sultan also decreed that Johor’s religious authorities stop dealing with federal agency Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) on Islamic matters.
In addition, the survey also showed that 84 per cent of Malays felt that Muslims should occupy a majority of state government seats.
An overwhelming 90 per cent of Malay respondents also agreed that “increased Islamic religiosity is a positive development in Malaysia”. In contrast, 79 per cent and 68 per cent of ethnic Chinese and Indian respondents, respectively, disagreed.
ISEAS fellow Norshahril Saat explained that such conservatives view was previous previously only associated only with Malays in rural Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.
“Johor is more developed economically and more urban than the other states, so we would expect them to be more modern and to think of Islam as a more progressive religion,” was quoted saying, referring to Johor residents.
“The Johor case confirms the findings that there is rising Islamic revivalist thinking in contemporary Malaysia today.”
The survey polled 2,011 respondents from Johor by phone between May and June this year.
Malays made up 55 per cent of the respondents, Chinese at 38 per cent, and Indian at 7 per cent.