Cabinet today should speak up for a moderate Malaysia for a change, suspend the ban on G25 book and form a high-level committee to hold public hearings whether the book should be banned
The reported ban on G25 book on “Breaking the Silence –Voices of Moderation: Islam in a Constitutional Democracy” is so extraordinary and unbelieveable that the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi must confirm whether he had authorized such a ban and why.
This book is produced by G25, comprising former high-ranking Malay/Muslim civil servants, civic leaders and politicians first formed in December 2014 to call for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in a constitutional democracy as they are deeply concerned over developments regarding race relations, Islam and extremist behaviour in Malaysia.
In the Open Letter in December 2014 signed originally by 25 prominent personalities, including former secretaries-general, directors-general, ambassadors, judges and prominent Malay individuals who have contributed much to Malaysian society, their spokesperson, Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, former Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands, said she and the others were “deeply concerned about the state of the debate on many issues of conflict on the position and application of Islamic laws in Malaysia”.
Stressing that it was time for moderate Malays and Muslims to speak up, and that “extremist, immoderate and intolerant voices” do not speak in their name, she said:
“Given the impact of such vitriolic rhetoric on race relations and political stability of this country, we feel it is incumbent on us to take a public position and urge for an informed and rational dialogue on the ways Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in Malaysia”.
She also urged more moderate Malaysians to speak up and contribute to “a better informed and rational public discussion on the place of Islamic laws within a constitutional democracy and the urgency to address the breakdown of federal-state division of powers and finding solutions to the heart-wrenching stories of lives and relationships damaged and put in limbo because of battles over turf and identity".
Now with the ban of G25’s book, what does it imply?
Will G25 itself, comprising former top prominent Malay/Muslim civil servants and public servants and which has since expanded to double its original number but has decided retain the name of “Group of 25” or “G25”, as this is the name that the Malaysian public is familiar with, be next to be banned, signifying a major setback for the cause of a moderate Malaysia and the triumph of extremist and intolerant forces in the country?
Does the ban of G25’s book signify a far-reaching and even seismic transformation in the nation-building directions in the country, where what had been regarded as being in the “out-boxes” for the past six decades have made a grand entrance into the “in-boxes” and what had been in the “in-boxes” under five Prime Ministers from 1957 to 2009 under Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Badawi have now been relegated to the “out-boxes”?
Tun Abdullah had written a foreword for the G25 book, where he endorsed the G25’s call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to “exercise his leadership and to demonstrate the political will to establish an inclusive consultative committee to find solutions to the intractable problems that had been allowed to fester for far too long”.
Tun Abdullah shared the hope of G25 that the publication of the G25 book, “Breaking the Silence –Voices of Moderation: Islam in a Constitutional Democracy” would further encourage an informed and rational dialogue on the ways Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, yet within the letter and spirit of the Federal Constitution and the spirit of Rukun Negara.
Has former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah’s foreword to the G25 book become a banned “foreword”?
Senior UMNO leader and MP for Gua Musang, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah launched the book and the accompanying “Islam in a Constitutional Democarcy” forum in December 2015, where he warned of “a religious bureaucracy” which is but a mask for the appropriation of power by vested interests through the application of Islamic laws and which threatens the constitutional provision where the Sultans must be the ultimate decision makers in the administration of Islam.
Is the ban on G25’s book an example of the latest strike by the “religious bureauracy” violating fundamental Malaysian constitutional principles?
Among the prominent Malay-Muslim former senior civil servants, professionals and civil society leaders as well as non-Malays and non-Muslims who contributed to the G25 book are Dr. Asiah Abu Samah, Dr. Asma Abdullah, Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim, Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi, Dr. Syed Farid Alatas, Dr. Azmi Sharom, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Dr. Maszlee Malik, Zainah Anwar, Aston Paiva, Fawza Sabila Faudzi, Firdaus Husni, Koh Kee Hoe, Lim Heng Seng, Mohamad Afif bin Daud, Dr. Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, Dr. Mohamad Nawab Osman, Nizam Bashir, Ranita Hussein, Rosli Dahlan, Shazal Yusuf Zain and Farouk A Peru.
Have these contributors, particularly the Malay/Muslim stalwarts of society, become the new enemies of Malaysia, whether individually or collectively, trying to destroy the very body fabric of multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia?
The Cabinet at its meeting today should speak up for a moderate Malaysia for a change, suspend the ban on G25 book and form a high-level committee to hold public hearings whether the book should be banned.
I am sure all the contributors to the G25 book, as well as eminent Malaysians want to give their views to the Cabinet Committee on the G25 book, whether to ban it or not, for the very soul of Malaysia is at stake – whether Malaysia is to continue as a moderate nation or allow the forces of extremism and intolerance to hijack nation-building in Malaysia.
What is the use of the Prime Minister launching the international initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates, when for the past seven years it had not shown any of the three attributes of being “global”, “a movement’ or “moderate” if the Cabinet allows the forces of extremism and intolerance to rear their ugly heads by jettisoning the constitutional principles of moderation, such as arbitrarily banning the G25 book.