From the halal trolley and Pretzel Dog have to change name due to the word “dog”, McDonald’s banning on non-halal cake, the seizure of paintbrushes made with pig bristles to the recent ban on trading activities for 15 minutes during Maghrib evening prayers in Kelantan, showing that our country is drifting away from the secular state; what a strange contradiction to the government’s efforts to promote Malaysia as a moderate and liberal Islamic country.
Although Islam had become the religion of most of the Malays since 15th and 16th Century, at the beginning of the independence, Malaysia had been self-positioning as a secular country. With the historical background of being colonized by the British, the country inherited the British system in the fields of economy, laws and politics. Many Malay leaders studied in England and were under the influence of Western thoughts.
From the era of the 4th Prime Minister Mahathir until the present Prime Minister Najib, Islamization process in Malaysia has been undergoing a gradual and rapid pace, even though presently the world is facing with the threat of Islamic State, the phenomenon has not in any way slowed down the process of Islamization in the country. This can be witnessed from the controversies on halal products and the attempt to expand the Islamic criminal law. The most worrying thing is politicians had intentionally or unintentionally equating Islam with Malay rights.
Beginning from 2014, Malaysia was experiencing with the problems of economic slowdown, depreciation of ringgit as well as high cost of living which have led to discontentment among the people. And also during which time many controversial issues regarding halal matters had emerged; Umno even worked hand in hand with PAS in trying to pave the way for the implementation of Shariah criminal law, an attempt to divert people’s attention from national issues; and in the name of religion gaining more political mileage in order to consolidate the reins of government.
Religious belief is a personal freedom, but when religion is infiltrated with political factors it will be deteriorated; when Malaysia is emphasizing more and more on Muslim supremacy, halal and non-halal has gradually become an invisible wall which lies across Muslims and non-Muslims, deepening racial divide. In the long run, Malaysia will be left with only one single Islamic culture, while the multi-culture which we are proud of over the decades will be completely vanished.
The Najib administration had been shouting loud on the slogan of the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) roadmap, looking forward to become a world-class power in the next 33 years. However, it is believed that with the implementation of the Shariah criminal law which is conservative and advocating backwardness, Malaysia is difficult to develop into an advanced, progressive and prosperous developed country, because there is only one thin line between religious extremism and terrorism.