PETALING JAYA: In light of the recent heightening of racial and religious tensions in the country and the divisive politics accompanying it, one hopes that religious leaders in the country would start behaving like the “men of peace” they are supposed to be.
In a posting on Jan 28 entitled “The Chinese will make the Malays stronger!”, former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim touched on this issue in his blog where he said: “Our Christian and Muslim leaders should find ways to have a proper and constructive dialogue. As our gutless politicians shy away from the “Allah” issue and kick it from the Cabinet to the state governments like it’s just another game of political football, religious leaders need to start behaving as men of peace, like all God-fearing people do.
“There is no need to wait for a political solution. They need to reach out to their respective faith constituents who value peace above all else. If these religious leaders think their prospects in life depend on being on the right side of politics, then they have really gone astray. We certainly hope we will not end up like the Central African Republic, Nigeria or Sudan, where Christians and Muslims are at each other’s throats, causing so much misery and death.”
Former Member of Parliament and PAS Research Centre director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad agreed with Zaid, calling him the “voice of reason.”
“Given the intense ethnic and religious divide in the country, Zaid is one person who is willing to be the voice of reason, however bitter. He calls a spade a spade and is not selective in his criticisms. A person like him will always act as an institution of check and balance. I don’t really want people like him to be partisan to Pakatan (Rakyat), but to be partisan for the good of the nation,” Dzulkefly told theantdaily.
He stressed that the nation was severely in need of the ability to converse and dialogue.
“If we really believe in sharing the nation we have to stop using words such as, “if you don’t like it here, leave the country”. Zaid is very right to remind religious leaders that the last people who should utter words of animosity, hatred and vengeance are them.
“If it comes from them, how could you even hope to have a cohesive society that will respect one another and that enhances religious understanding? They should be the last people to utter words that fuel and stoke religious enmity and contempt. Zaid is spot on in reminding them of that”, said Dzulkefly.
Zaid had also written in his blog about the Malays needing to emulate the Chinese instead of “being angry with them” where he said: “In this Year of the Horse, I would like to appeal to my friends in Umno and Perkasa to restart the process of better equipping the Malays so that they can be stronger and can protect their legitimate interests in the country. You need to abandon the strategy of making the Chinese the “bogeyman”. There is no need to be angry or to blame them for our own shortcomings. There is no need to further aggravate the racial divide in the country.”
Zaid added: “The Chinese are known for treating everything as a business, for attaching an economic value to their relationships with others and for not yielding an inch unless they have to. Instead of being angry with those who have this philosophy of life, the Malays should emulate this business approach.
“They should abandon their own laidback and trusting outlook and be more business-like. The Malays need to foster a suitable dose of competitive spirit within themselves, and learn the art of weighing their options in a manner that’s smart and well-informed. I believe the Malays will be stronger if they focus their energy on being competitive instead of being angry.”
To which Dzulkefly said the Malays have to end their mentality of constantly feeling they are under siege from the Chinese.
“We have to stop having this siege mentality that we have culturalised – that the Chinese are coming to unseat us in terms of our Islamic position and in politics and the last people who should be doing that are religious leaders.
“In the dynamics of a plural society, you get to pick up certain traits that are not part of your DNA like the competitive and enterprising spirit. Perhaps it’s usually seen in the minority groups and the majority is usually seen as being complacent especially if they are given crutches for too long,” he said.