JULY 1 — The Young Professionals (YP) are perturbed, but not surprised, to read the remarks of DAP Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Zairil Khir Johari, reported by the Malay Mail Online on June 28, 2016.
In the report, Zairil was quoted as saying that some Islamic institutions in Malaysia are somehow in danger in succumbing to religious extremism by actively promoting Wahhabism and receiving financial aid from Wahhabis.
This claim was, as most of claims made by this particular MP, made without any evidence whatsoever and is not only highly defamatory of the institutions concerned, but also hinders their constitutionally sanctioned role of promoting and defending the development and practice of the religion of Islam in Malaysia, as per the oath of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Article 37(1) of the Federal Constitution.
This results in a clear undermining of the position of the religion in the public sphere, which is affirmed by our apex law, specifically Article 3(1) of the Constitution as well as the 2013 Herald’s case wherein the Court of Appeal declared that there is a positive obligation on the part of the state to give effect to the injunctions of Islam for all Muslims.
We note that this is not the first time Zairil has expressed views based on erroneous facts, or dubious interpretations thereof. A year ago, on June 27, 2015, the Malay Mail reported that this same MP has questioned the existence of Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim).
He was then quoted as saying that the authority of Jakim goes against the 9th Schedule to the Constitution and suggested that “matters of faith should belong in the realm of civil society and not the state.”
He was then promptly rebuked by a civil society NGO no less, the Concerned Lawyers of Justice, who called on him to respect the position of Jakim as set up by our Rulers to promote and defend Islam as enshrined in our Federal Constitution (The solution is but one: Abide by the Federal Constitution, Concerned Lawyers for Justice, Malay Mail Online, June 29, 2015).
Undeterred, he has now taken to undermining the work of Islamic institutions including Jakim, as well as their own notable efforts in suppressing extremist discourse, by tarring them all with the Wahhabi brush.
This second attempt at destabilising their roles in spite of having been urged earlier to accept them under the Constitution is inexcusable and deserves the harshest condemnation from all Malaysians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
His latest remark alleging Wahhabi infiltration of our Islamic institutions is made in response to the statement of the Pahang Mufti in decrying DAP for consisting of “kafir harbi” in its opposition to PAS’ Private Members’ Bill to enhance the jurisdiction of Syariah courts, which, it should be noted, are limited to Muslims only, making DAP’s criticism thereon provocative in the first place.
While the MP’s desire to defend his party from the mufti’s statement in response is understandable, rather than calling for dialogue with the mufti concerned to work out differences in a calm, dispassionate manner, as the rational response would have been, he has instead made wildly baseless as well as defamatory allegations, aimed not at the Pahang Mufti specifically, but all Malaysian Islamic institutions generally.
YP thus call upon Zairil to produce evidence indicating any link between Wahhabi groups and Malaysia’s Islamic institutions, as he has termed them, failing which he should immediately withdraw the allegations, and apologise to all of these institutions, failing which, we urge the authorities to investigate the MP for the same.
Such investigations, we believe, should focus on the MP’s motive for making such allegations, which, given their repeated nature, are indeed questionable.
* Young Professionals (YP) are a group of Malaysian professionals from across the social strata and political spectrum who believe in the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and social contract.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.