The run up to the Singapore General Elections 2015 have been a real eye opener for me.
In my opinion none of the Malay candidates are fit to represent the Malay community with the exception of Noraini Yunus from the Reform Party, as they seem to be religiously motivated with talks about the Malay Muslim community.
I have a question for them.
I’m Malay in my Identity card.
I’ve renounced my faith and no longer Muslim.
Am I then, a Malay Atheist, excluded from your policies?
How about the Muslims who aren’t ethnic Malays, are they excluded too?
Lastly, is Singapore a secular country or do we need to have a partisan system of law and policies for Non Muslims and Muslims?
This is the problem that I have brought up in my previous posts, the Taboo of Apostasy and Singapore for Singaporeans (The Great Divide) where I highlighted that the Racial Harmony in Singapore is a farce more akin to Racial Profiling, this deep seeded identity politics runs so deep that Malays themselves identify as Muslims first rather than as Malays and this is at odds with the principle of secularism and creates a chasm between themselves, Ex-Muslims and everyone else.
Religion has no place in politics for only when governments are free of religious influence that everyone can enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from religion but as it stands now in Singapore, it seems like Islam is being used as a tool of politics by the Malay candidates and this is a frighting threat to secular democracy and serves only to divide the Malay community further. How can we be united when we’re so obsessed with each other’s piety?
The silver lining in the horizon is that there are more and more Muslims in Singapore who support secularism and there is also an increase in the amount of Muslims apostatizing from Islam within our shores but then why do we not hear about them?
The problem lies in the fact that we do not have freedom of speech in Singapore, Articles 298 and 292 have made it specifically clear that we cannot offend the feeling of the religious, which in itself is incredibly vague as offense is always taken and not given.
And I’m sure right now some people reading this are taking offence to the fact that I, a Malay ex-muslim, am criticizing them.
Secondly Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Religious Council of Islam Singapore) has far too much authority and influence on the local Muslim community.
And lastly the ministerial position of “Minister in charge for Muslim Affairs”.
Think about it for a second, do we have a Minister in charge for Christian/Taoist/Buddhist/Jewish affairs? What makes Islam so important that we needed a position in Parliament just for it, instead of allowing Muslims to discuss amongst themselves through interfaith dialogues.
If practitioners of those faiths can settle their own religious discussions, why can’t muslims?
So this leaves us, Ex-Muslims outside of the dialogue that needs to happen, even though we’re still affected by policies effecting Malay Muslims because to many people they’re the same thing and it silences the community at large from having a discussion about Islam within the Malay Community because MUIS and the Ministerial position of “Minister In Charge of Muslim Affairs” are seen as the authority for Muslim issues.
Secularism is the principle of Separation of State and Religion.
Every policy brought up within government in terms of people should be to the benefit of all people regardless of their religion and having these 2 bodies speak on behalf of Muslims through government is clearly not Secular.
And Muslims have the biggest role to play, by treating religion as a personal belief instead of as a tool of behavioral control. You can see through mass media how the Malay Muslim community reacted to recent events.
Malay Minister holding a confetti cannon that looked like a champagne bottle and even if he did partake in the consumption of alcohol, so what?
It’s none of your business what he consumes but you’re half right, after all he is the Minister In Charge of Muslim Affairs and should set the standard of a “Good Muslim”, while another political candidate is lauded as as an exceptional Muslim because he openly prayed, amazing.
Another claims to champion minority rights but says he doesn’t agree with the move to repeal 377a the act that criminalizes male homosexuality, which is at odds with his Party’s stance, that this law needs to be repealed to ensure equality for all citizens.
Yet the one political candidate that does champion minority rights and secularism, issues effecting the malay community, yes malay community not malay muslim community, Ms Noraini Yunus hardly gets any recognition for her efforts.
Do you see the problem I’m talking about?
Where using religion as a form of behavioral control is not a good thing?
When there is a formal authority to decide on muslim affairs and issues.
You become obsessed with the piety of a person instead of the merit of their ideas and policies and the whole thing devolves into a pissing contest of who is the most pious.
I would love to see the Malay community become more inclusive with the rest of Singapore but first we need to remind ourselves that religion is a personal belief belief and that Malay is not synonymous with Muslim that first and foremost we are Singaporeans.
“A Secular(godless) state is the guarantee of religious pluralism. This apparent paradox, again, is the simplest and most elegant of political truths.” – Christopher Hitchens
This article is also found on the Council of Ex-Muslims Singapore Facebook page.
Feel free to comment and share over there, if you don’t have a way of doing so here and would like to add your input.