The mufti has no right to tell the voters in the country who they should vote and who they should not
By P Ramasamy
Who is Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainal to tell Malaysian voters that they should reject Hindraf candidates if they fielded in the coming general election?
Asri might be influential among some sections of Muslims in the country, but he has no right to tell the voters in the country who they should vote and who they should not.
I know that he is staunch supporter of the Indian preacher Zakir Naik in the country. But at the same time, despite his progressive stand on some issues, I don’t understand why Asri wants to influence voters against Hindraf.
Personal opinions should not be confused with public positions especially when the country is facing the general election.
In fact, I don’t understand how he could support Zakir when the authorities in India have already filed their papers for his extradition from the country.
According to the official sources in India, Zakir is alleged to have influenced youths in Bangladesh and in the Indian state of Kerala to take part in religious extremism to the extent some have gone to fight the war alongside ISIS in the Middle-East.
The infamous attacks on a night club in Dhaka in Bangladesh was apparently inspired by the speeches of Zakir. Furthermore, the Indian government wants to question Zakir for using his foundation in Bombay for money laundering activities.
Apart from the crimes committed in India, Zakir is also responsible for spreading religious hatred in Malaysia. Although he does not appear in public anymore, he is still in the country and constantly meeting Muslims who are supportive of him.
In the earlier period, he engaged in public lectures to the extent causing irreparable damage to the inter-religious relations in the country between the Muslims and non-Muslims.
Asri is also unhappy with Hindraf and others for filing a suit in the court to deem Zakir as dangerous personality in the country and to obtain a court ruling for his deportation.
Although Hindraf’s suit was rejected by the court, it raised the question of whether the continued presence of Zakir in Malaysia was something desirable.
I think Asri is good religious scholar. His views are sometimes contrary to those who support the religious status-quo. However, he is nobody to question whether Pakatan Harapan will be fielding Hindraf candidates or not.
As we know, Hindraf is not full fledged partner in the coalition of Pakatan, but merely a strategic partner. Whether Pakatan will allocate seats to Hindraf remains to be seen.
The question of fielding or not fielding Hindraf candidates is matter that needs to be sorted by the top leadership of Pakatan and its chairman Dr Mahahtir Mohamad.
Mahathir thinks the Hindraf is asset to Pakatan and that seems to be consensus of other parties like the DAP, PKR, Amanah and Bersatu. So if the top leadership can support Hindraf, who is Asri to call for the boycott of Hindraf?
In calling for the boycott of Hindraf, is Asri telling Malaysians that Indians should support the BN? Is Asri afraid that Hindraf would be able to take away Indian support from BN in the coming general election?
Is he afraid that without Indian support BN would not form the next government in Putrajaya and thereby making his position as a mufti untenable?
Hindraf was betrayed by the BN government in the last election. So what is wrong for the organisation to support Pakatan this time around? If the Indian community is still respectful of Hindraf’s past contributions, who is Asri to advice Indians?
Sorry, whatever the differences among Indians, when it comes to Hindraf, Indians will be united. Hindraf will remain a household name among Indians for a long time to come.
Asri might be influential on some matters, but he does not have the political clout to sway voters in the coming general election. Maybe a handful of his supporters might withhold their support to Hindraf candidates or that matter Pakatan, but who is he to say cast his spell on politics?
I am not asking Asri not to support Zakir, but does it make sense to support a fugitive when there is overwhelming evidence that the latter might have engaged in extreme religious activities in India and was responsible for inciting inter-religious tensions in Malaysia.
Asri might be an excellent Muslim scholar, however if he is blind to hatred perpetrated by Zakir against non-Muslims and others who do not share his vision of things, then Asri should refrain from advising others.
P Ramasamy is Penang Deputy Chief Minister 2