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Unity 101: Bar Council Forum Protest: The Aftermath

(It does not only happen in Malaysia. Here’s one in England. Image source:

The aftermath…

As we know it by now, there was a “loud” protest and the Bar Council decided to call it off (on the advice of the police). But why protest in the first place? Look again on the Bar Council’s objectives for having the forum:-

In a press statement issued yesterday, the council said the objective of the forum was to highlight the plight of families caught in legal disputes resulting from conflicts in the civil and syariah legal systems

Isn’t that a valid objective? Look at the panel of speakers. Look at what they intend to do with this forum. Proposals for law reform? Yes. Challenge to Islam as the official religion of this country? Definately a big NO. But still there were protestors and the same echoed by UMNO leaders.

This is what Khir Toyo said in his blog:-

Hakikatnya orang Islam terutamanya Melayu tidak akan membenarkan agama Islam dijadikan bahan perbincangan kontroversi oleh mana-mana pihak di negara ini

(Loosely translated as “It is a fact that Muslims especially the Malays will not allow the religion of Islam to be used in controversial discussions by anyone in this country”)

It was interesting to read what was written in objection to the Bar Council’s proposed forum. Khir said the forum by the Bar Council was controversial. Agree that it may be but who in the first place made it controversial? All you need is to have politicians like Najib to say things like this:-

Council’s persistence in going ahead with a forum on conversion to Islam has triggered extreme reaction from certain quarters, which in turn would threaten the country’s harmony

But reading further into Khir Toyo’s post, it was not long before Khir Toyo (why I am not surprised) started to mix religion with politics and went for a cheap swing against PKR. This is what he said:-

Ini tidak lebih usaha menguji dan mencabar sejauh mana kerajaan dan orang Melayu dapat diperkotak-katikkan pasca pilihan raya umum ke 12. Mereka ingin melihat sejauh mana orang Melayu terutamanya yang terpengaruh dengan ideologi ketuanan rakyat ciptaan PKR sanggup terus melepaskan segala kedudukan agama Islam.

(Loosely translated as “They want to see how far the Malays especially those who are influenced by PKR’s ideology of “people’s power” is willing to let down all status of Islam”)

Excuse me but when did PKR came into the picture as an organisation that is opposing Islam? PKR did not started it and they were not involved. Malaysian in general has never opposed Islam but Khir shamelessly go ahead to make this connection and paint PKR and indirectly Anwar of course, a bad image.

What is ketuanan rakyat (people’s power) in the first place? Have Khir truly understood what is “ketuanan rakyat” before he made a reckless reference it as a challenge to the Islam being the official religion of the country. Was ketuananan rakyat was meant to challenge the official religion of the country or it was meant to stop the corruption & unfairness to the people by empowering the rights of the people? Which is which now?

Reading Khir Toyo’s post reminds me of another post – this time by Raja Petra titled “I Promise to be a Good, Non-Hypocritical Muslim” (an interesting post)

But the thing is this  – have anyone gave it a thought – why have the forum on conversion? Why now? And why now, the very mention of having any discussions on religion brings such a drastic and angry response?

Oh never mind the fact that we non-Muslims have our own problems to think about – there is less or no time to question the national status of Islam. We do not intend to question them anyway. We have embraced that fact since 1957 and we are comfortable with it for a long time now until now.

Who the non-Muslims to question Islam, the protestor ask in anger? But isn’t that is what Raja Petra was trying to point out in his post? Inter-faith discussion was mooted by Suhakam in 2002 (not PKR lah, Khir) and till now it was been “under siege”. The non Muslims have been minding their own business for sometime now but when there is an influx of conversion issues and others related problems, many have started to doubt their freedom of religion in this country.

And it is not an illusive doubt (despite the Government’s assurances) but many of them are of course have remained silent – perhaps it is their faith. Others have voiced out and asked on how to resolve this. One being the Bar Council – law reforms is a better way to resolve future disputes than the avenues that we have now.

Will this be deemed as threatening the country’s harmony?

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