NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I’m getting married in the mornin’!
Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.
Pull out the stopper!
Let’s have a whopper!
But get me to the church on time!
Get Me To the Church On Time: music by Frederick Loewe; lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
My mother’s name is Barbara Mabel Parnell. A couple of years after World War II she became a Muslim and adopted the ‘Muslim’ name Bariah Kamarudin. Kamarudin is of course my father’s name while the ‘maiden’ name Bariah was suggested by Tengku Ampuan Bariah Terengganu who was in England then with the late Sultan of Terengganu (then the Raja Muda of Terengganu) and father to Malaysia’s current Agong. You could say Tengku Ampuan Bariah Terengganu, who is my father’s cousin, ‘named’ my mother (and they have the cheek to say I would have the gall to insult the Agong who is sort of my second-cousin by marriage).
About 25 years or so later, my wife too became a Muslim. She was informed by the then Grand Imam of the National Mosque (Masjid Negara) that she can retain her original name, Mable James Anthony Lee. The wife of Raja Adnan Raja Abdullah, the one-time Deputy Director of the Special Branch and my brother’s father-in-law, suggested my wife take a ‘Muslim’ name and she proposed the name Marina. So my wife became Marina Lee @ Mable James Anthony Lee.
My sister, Norita, married an Englishman but he retained his English name when he converted to Islam in front of Pak Abas, my Tok Guru from Terengganu who is also one of the PAS grassroots leaders and the ‘strongman’ of Kampong Kolam in Kuala Ibai, a PAS stronghold on the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu which Umno has never been able to conquer.
When my mother first stepped foot in Malaysia a year before Merdeka, my father’s relatives were delighted that my father had married a ‘Mem’, a novelty in those days, and that she had ‘masuk Melayu’. My mother would indignantly correct them by saying that she ‘masuk Islam’, not ‘masuk Melayu’. She had become a Muslim, not a Malay, and she was proud of her Welsh heritage.
Malays have this misconception that if you become a Muslim then you have become a Malay. And they would refer to converts as mualaf, in particular Chinese converts. It is peculiar they do not regard Indian converts as mualaf but Indian Muslims. Why are Chinese mualaf while Indians are Indian Muslims and Caucasians ‘masuk Melayu’? Did I not say that the Malay mind is a very weird thing?
I made about nine or ten trips to China from the early- to mid-1990s and have toured the remotest parts of China where Malaysians have never been before. Some parts of China that I visited the people there have never seen a Malaysian in their entire life or know where Malaysia is (and they were surprised that Malaysians look like Mat Salleh). And there are many Muslim restaurants even in these remotest parts of China so food, therefore, was no problem.
There are probably around 110 million or so Muslims in China spread out all over the country with the majority in the four autonomous regions. Beijing has a whole street of Muslim restaurants and the variety is so exciting because it is almost like a gourmet’s United Nations. In the rural areas the choices are not that varied and it is very difficult to detect which are halal restaurants and which are not. But if you ask the locals they will be very happy to point to the right restaurant and only on entering the restaurant will you know that they are Muslim-owned from the verses of the Quran adorning the wall.
The oldest mosque in China is in Canton which was built 100 years after the birth of Islam. On the outside the mosque looks like a Chinese temple complete with moon-gate entrance and all; but once inside there is no mistaking that it is a mosque.
What awed me was that the Muslims I met speak Arabic and when I told them that I do not speak Arabic they were very surprised. They asked me whether I can read the Quran and when I replied that I most certainly can they were perplexed. They wanted to know how I can read the Quran when I do not speak Arabic. And when I replied that I am just like 99% other Malaysian Muslims who read the Quran without being able to speak Arabic, they shook their heads in disbelief at this demonstration of Malaysia Boleh.
Yes, Chinese Muslims are mualaf as far as Malays are concerned. But the Chinese were already Muslims 700 years or so before the Malays when the Malays were still Hindus, Buddhists or worshipped trees in the jungles. And the Chinese Muslims speak Arabic while most Malays, save a handful, do not. And Malays look down on Chinese Muslims as second-class Muslims. Much the Malays do not know outside their very small world.
In an article called ‘Si Binatang Raja Petra Jantan Jalang Biadab’ that was published in an Umno website, they asked this question:
Masihkah Raja Petra ke Gereja lagi menemani isteri? Nak tanya Raja Petra, apa agama isterinya sebenar? Nak tanya saja.
This is another peculiar trait of the Malays. They are very concerned about what religion you profess. They demand to know if you are a Muslim or Kafir (infidel). They treat this as their right to demand you inform them of your religion. Muslims are good people because Islam is the true religion and is above all other religions which are considered false. So they must know if you are a Muslim or Kafir so that they can gauge whether you are a good or bad person. “Islam adalah agama suci yang kita pegang,” said this same article in that Umno website.
This high and mighty attitude make Malays very arrogant and they carry this holier than thou chip on their shoulder. Non-Muslims should not take offence though because they are not the only target of these people. Muslims like me who they view as not ‘true’ Muslims also suffer persecution.
Malays want to dictate what kind of Muslim you should be and if they discover through an anonymous SMS that you are in the process of leaving Islam they will rise in anger and demonstrate their displeasure, even if it is not true. Heaven forbid you leak that you are really leaving Islam. You will face the full wrath of the Malays. And if for one second they suspect that you are not their type of Muslim but of a different ‘sect’ they will come down hard on you. You must not only be a Muslim but you must be their type of Muslim as well. That is the Malay mind.
It is quite pathetic really and I sometimes do pity Malays who spend their whole life preoccupied with finding out what type of Muslim you are and whether you have secretly left Islam rather than worry whether they could instead be deviant Muslims. They of course assume and insist that they are following the correct Islam and if they differ from you then you, and not them, are the deviants. They will not accept the possibility that you are right and they are wrong. They are most definitely right and you are most certainly wrong.
Let us look at a hypothetical situation. Say you walk into a mosque on a Friday and shout, “The Bible is the true Holy Book and the Quran is false” or “Jesus is the Son of God and Muhammad is a fake”. This will be just like walking into a Manchester pub wearing a Liverpool jersey. Rest assured you will not walk out of that mosque in one piece. Okay, now say you protest when Malays declare the Bible false and that Jesus is not the Son of God. The Malays will argue that they are allowed to say this because Malaysia is a Muslim country.
See this e-mail which was published in The People’s Parliament to demonstrate what I mean:
Most of my friends are Malays and through them I learnt the language. I feel that I’ve a certain bond with them, until the topics of Malay privileges and Islam are discussed. I usually just listen and do not put my two cents because I’m usually the only non-Malay. From their discussion, I’ve come to understand how they view the non-Malays. Generally, we should never question their privileges as we should be grateful that we still get to retain our Chinese names, surnames, Chinese schools etc. We should never complain. And they have no qualms criticizing Christianity to my face, e.g., the Bible is corrupted through many translations, comparing against the Koran being “suci” as directly from God.
I’ve always wondered what made them feel so special that they can criticize but we do not dare in their face. Now I understand that no matter how they wronged other races, they are somehow protected – e.g., the May 13 incident. I think the govt owes the families of the victims an apology. Because of that tragedy, the Chinese generally think that Malays have the tendency to be violent; and the Malays think that they have the upper hand as they can threaten the Chinese into silence. I’d be grateful if you would share your thoughts and view on what I’ve said.
Okay, another hypothetical situation. Say you repeat this same thing in England, which is not a Muslim country but a Christian country. Will it then be considered allowed? No, of course not! The Muslims will still protest and hold demonstrations. The bottom line is, Muslims are allowed to whack others but others are not supposed to whack Muslims. And this is the Malay mind as well. So Malays, like these Umno types, resent anyone whacking them, their party, Ketuanan Melayu, the New Economic Policy, and anything at all considered ‘sacred cows’. But they can scream, even in ‘sacred’ places like Parliament, that Islam is the religion of this country, the Malays own Malaysia, and if the non-Malays or non-Muslims do not like this they can leave the country and migrate to another country.
Malays can give Qurans to non-Muslims but non-Muslims who give Bibles to Muslims must be sent to prison. Non-Muslims can convert to Islam in droves but even if just one Muslim leaves Islam there will be blood on the streets. Malays can label DAP as racist but if the Chinese label Umno as racist they will make a police report and charge you under the Sedition Act and try to take away your citizenship as well. Malays can question as to whether you have left Islam and have become a Christian and now go to church but you must never question the Malays as to whether racial discrimination goes against Islamic teachings and whether both the Quran as well as the Prophet’s last sermon lie testimony to this.
Malays are very concerned about whether you pray, how you pray, whether you believe in God, whether you really think that Prophet Muhammad is the true Prophet, and so on. Once you pass all these ‘tests’ of the articles of faith with flying colours this will make them very happy. Their happiness rests with you being a Muslim and the type of Muslim that they approve of on top of that. Okay, so you drink, gamble, have sex with another man’s wife, visit the brothel once a week, and, to top it all, take bribes from Chinese contactors, pig farmers, brothels, illegal gambling outlets, drug haunts, etc. That is okay. The Malays will not demonstrate on the streets because of all this. But if you go to church, notwithstanding that you lead the life of Mother Theresa, then God have mercy on your soul. What bad you do is not important. Whether you share their same belief is.
And this is why that particular Umno website is very concerned whether I still follow my wife to church. That is the most important thing in the world to them and the entire future of this country and the fate of future generations depend on them knowing this most crucial piece of information. Oh, by the way, more than 90% of those in our police lockups are Malays. And 90% of those Malays in the lockups are there because of drug related offences. And 70% of those who are inflicted with AIDS are Malays. And 90% got AIDS because of their drug habit. And this has been going on since the 1970s. And states or areas that have the highest incidences are the predominantly Malay states or areas. But none of these people go to church. They don’t even go to the mosque, temple or synagogue. So of course the Umno website does not worry about them. It is when they go to church that the Umno website will start getting very concerned. That and only that is what matters.