Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs Asyraf recently said atheism is against the Constitution and also against Seditious Act.
He was replying to a question by Parti Amanah Kota Rajah MP Siti Mariah on the influence of Atheist Republic Consulate on Malay youths and also its damage against Islam. She asked what steps were being taken by the Government to check the spread of atheism. Asyraf gave the answer.
Furthermore, Asyraf also said the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but this does not mean freedom from religion. As such, propagating atheism in Malaysia is against the Constitution.
Definition for “Malays”
In a response to Asyraf’s statement, Bar Council president George Varughese made a rebuttal. He said religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right of non-believers. As such, the Constitution also protects the freedom of atheists. And because there is nothing in the Constitution which forces people to believe or practise a religion, no one has so far been charged in court or punished because they do not believe or practise a religion.
Malaysia is still a secular nation from the standpoint of the Constitution. Even though Islam is the official religion, other religions are allowed to exist freely except for cults.
However, Malaysia is unique as the Constitution also gives specific definition of Malays as those who follow Islam, speak Malay and practice Malay culture and customs. And all Malays are given special status.
This was stipulated in the Federation of Malaya Agreement effective from Feb 1, 1948. The agreement was signed by the British colonial government, UMNO and the nine Sultans and formed the basis of the Constitution when Malaya became independent in year 1957. On Sept 16, 1963 when Malaysia was formed, it was expanded to become the Constitution of Malaysia by adding in the so-called 20-point agreement from Sabah and Sarawak.
In 1970, the Government launched the New Economic Policy to enhance the economic status of the Malays and also the interest of the indigenous people in East Malaysia. As such, people in the 70’s were identified as bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras. In the 90’s they were divided into Muslims and non-Muslims.
What is the difference between the two? First is the definition of identity. Malays are born Muslims and they fit the Malay definition to enjoy the special status. In other words, Malays are born with Muslim identity and no other religions are allowed to propagate to the Malay or Muslim community as it is against the law.
More than 1.1billion are atheists
Other races can have their freedom of religion. The Chinese can follow Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism or Christianity. The Indians can follow Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or Sikhism. Similarly, the natives of East Malaysia can believe in any religion, including Islam. If they are Muslims, they also enjoy similar status of the Malays.
There are more than two billion Christians or 33% of the world population of 7.5 billion and they are the biggest group, followed by Muslims with 1.6 billion or 23% of the world population. There are 1.1 billion atheists or 16.3% and they form the third biggest group. Hinduism is the fourth with 800 million followers or 14%, followed by Buddhism with 400 million or 6%.
Based on these figures, there are many atheists in this world with mainland Chinese forming the biggest group. Due to the influence by Marxism, they became atheists and turn their faith to political ideology.
However, in recent years, many mainland Chinese are quietly praying to their gods for protection. People who turn religious may also include those who may have committed some wrongdoings and pray for protection. Fortunately, the authorities have taken notice and have stopped such happenings as otherwise, the Chinese society would be damaged by corrupt elements.
People in most countries have their own religions. Take Malaysia for example. Islam was promoted in the 90’s, especially after the 1979 Iranian revolution which became an inspiration for the Muslims to push for Islamization worldwide.
This was the main reason why PAS which had been treading the racial line failed to defeat UMNO. It was only in 1990 when it teamed up with UMNO 46 that it succeeded in taking Kelantan. PAS president then Fadzil Noor believed that PAS could grow strong and defeat UMNO by promoting religious politics.
In the 1999 election, PAS depended on the Anwar effect and won Kelantan and Terengganu and 27 parliamentary seats. As such PAS was even more convinced that by mixing politics with religion, it could grow in strength. Subsequently, PAS and UMNO have been competing to be the fastest in making Malaysia a true Islamic state.
PAS decided to rule by theocracy
Because of a misjudgment, PAS failed in the 2004 election and returned to Anwar’s team. It tried to promote the idea of a welfare state and avoided any reference of an Islamic state. As expected, the 2008 election stirred up a political tsunami with Pakatan Rakyat dominating half of the political landscape. And later in the 2013 election, Pakatan Rakyat still retained its advantageous position. Then PAS made up its mind to embrace the Islamic world, especially after it had cut it ties with DAP in 2015 and also with PKR in 2016. Later, it also refused to work with Pribumi Bersatu, making it clear the party’s determination to pursue a theocratic nation.
As a matter of fact, mixing religion with race is absolutely bad for Malaysia. A United Nations report shows concern over the development of religious politics in Malaysia. Now that Saudi has also accused a Malaysian group of supporting IS terrorist movement. This is even more “explosive” than the views made by the deputy minister that atheism is an offence.
We are against the introduction of the Atheist Republic originated from Canada and its activities to Malaysia. The movement is a cult and its belief of atheism is absurd and is a challenge to all religions. It is abusing the term atheism to confuse people. It is totally different from the traditional atheism and cannot be judged as the same group.