Monday, June 04, 2007

Lina Joy Case: Disappointments on Muslims, Non-Muslims and Opposition

The Perspectives of Muslims and Non-Muslims

For the past few days I have not been posting to my blog for a few reasons. I am running out of ideas and lazy. Despite the fact that there are lots of articles on Lina Joy, I do not feel like writing about it initially.

For those not in the know, Lina Joy, whose original name is Azlina Jailani wants to leave Islam by removing the name of that religion from her IC. It is a case of its first kind in Malaysia. Highly controversial. She wants to change it to Christian and get married with her Indian Christian boyfriend.

The case was debated for years and finally came to an expected official conclusion. The Civil Court transferred the responsibility to Syariah court with a 2 to 1 majority.

After all, I do feel disappointed because of the case. Why disappointed you may ask?

The Non-Muslims will probably think I am disappointed because Lina Joy did not get her wish fulfilled of removing the name "Islam" from her IC. Some may assume I do not like that Islamic laws had been regarded as on-par or probably higher than the civil court. Another possibility would be the status of religious freedom in Malaysia. It would look as if Islam is a one-way-ticket religion. Metaphorically, it is like you can "check out" many times but you can never leave the "hotel".

The Muslims will guess that I am disappointed with the Non-Muslims remarks from all over the world. Of course, it is not something new for Europeans or Americans to write "damaging" remarks towards Islam. The disappointment may be caused by certain Non-Muslims Malaysians bashing Islam although the Civil Court did not rule that Lina Joy "cannot" change the status in the IC. The responsibility was shifted to the Islamic Syariah court. "Why can't the Islamic court rule over and judge issues regarding to Islam?" , one may ask. After all, it was enshrouded within the Malaysian Constitution since inception stating Islam has a special place in the heart of the administration.

All in all, there may be some truths in any of the points of view from both sides. I find it pointless to analyse the points one by one. It would be like a "Chicken and Egg story". Which one comes first? The Chicken or The Egg?

For instance, certain Muslims argue that Islamic laws were implemented before European colonials come to Malaysia. This makes Syariah court valid. Other Muslims and Non-Muslims supporting freedom of choosing religion claims such court was only created by colonials to divide the nation. By logic, it is easier to rule over a nation with divided people. I do agree with this statement. After all, Europeans ruled here for centuries.

The Malacca Sultanate has ended centuries ago. We are in Malaysia now, why can't we implement laws that would be fair to all? Isn't Malaysia descended from ancient Malacca Sultanate? Why can't we implement a law that had already existed when Malay ancestors toil the earth? The chicken or the egg comes first?

Lina Joy's Case Divided The People

Returning to the original question of "why I am disappointed?". It is not resulted from any of the points above. My deep disappointment comes from the fact that Malaysians can be easily divided. Bring in any issues regarding race and religion and voila, you can see the effect immediately.

Almost every Muslim and non-Muslim common citizen agree that corruption is bad for the country. The Opposition had been using this issue to gain ground. There are even talks of collaboration between chinese-outlook parties (DAP) and malay-outlook parties (Keadilan). Campaigning seems to be succesful. Some citizens have started to look beyond racial ties until the appearance of this case. People are displeased with the poor performance of the ruling party.
Now, all the campaigning has gone down the drain. Now, some Malays may view that the chinese-based-party will challenge the "Syariah" court and therefore refuse to vote for the party. Without the Malay support, DAP will never rule Malaysia. It is almost impossible for non-Malays to vote for PAS in droves for PAS wanted to implement an Islamic government with an ambiguous blueprint.

That leaves Keadilan as the only party with a chance to reap Malaysia from Barisan Nasional. However, Keadilan may have to claim they would be doing something similar to UMNO to garner Malay votes. With that, the chinese may not vote for Keadilan.

Comparatively, most non-Malays consider UMNO and Keadilan as coming from the same mould. The only difference is Keadilan offers a chance of reforming the government. Keadilan claims to fight for social justice. These days, Keadilan is suffering from internal political instability. From the non-Malay point of view, if Keadilan were to not allow Lina Joy to changer her IC, it would look like Keadilan is not practising what it is preaching all along. If non-Malays feel that Keadilan will function like UMNO once in power, then Keadilan would be in big trouble. The non-Malays may recast their votes back to UMNO in any Malay-populated zone. If both "cars" are not good, why buy a new one and take risks? Might as well use the old one, right?

The credibility is at stake. So, which alternative would Keadilan adopt? To accept that Lina Joy be given freedom and lose the support of the Malays or; to reject Lina Joy's appeal and lose the support of the Chinese? Heads you lose, tails you lose too.

The ruling certainly came out at the strangest time when there are rumours of a general election coming soon. The case divided the people.

This is the bleak world of Malaysian politics. This country will never have an opposition strong enough to replace the ruling party. What is democracy without a possible change in the government?


My stand on the Lina Joy case is she should be given the freedom to embrace another religion. My decision does not make me a non-Muslim. It does not mean I am a liberal Muslim either. For now, I can still accept the existence of the Syariah Court. Even if Keadilan claims that Lina Joy should not be given freedom, I would still opt for Keadilan instead of Barisan Nasional. I sympathise with the condition of Lina Joy if this unfair society leaves her with no choice but to migrate.

P.S. So far, Keadilan has not commented on the issue of Lina Joy...


nat said...

gottt, see here :) thanks for your support!

Shally said...

Yes, Malaysian can be easily divided because most of the Malay claimed that they are Bumiputera and this is their land. They are kind enough to let China people (Chinese) to stay here. Thus, China people should be thankful to them. No matter how much our ancestors gave, we are still outsider and we are not allowed to questioned about their privilege. This is call democratic? Maybe yes for them....

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stROZze said...

Yes, u r right. DAP will only lose Malay/Muslim vote on Lina Joy case. Without Malay votes, DAP won't rule this country.

From political point of view, UMNO is the real gainer. Malay will have to come back voting for UMNO as they're seen to protect Malay/Muslim rights. UMNO have realised that they're losing non-Malay voters recently. So, another strategy to win is to regain majority Malay.

UMNO at the same time are trying to label PAS as deviant Islamist. Too bad you have also been fooled by UMNO by saying PAS with its ambiguous blueprint when PAS have not been given fair opportunity to explain on that.

In the end, UMNO will win with its konco2nya - MCA, MIC, Gerakan etc.