F**k the (moral) police

Welcome to Malaysia!!! The only country bold enough to deem people of the single largest faith in the country as those of weak faith. So much so, that it is the Government’s duty to make sure that they keep in line. Because these people are apparently easily corrupted and are prone to subversive elements. So to protect this fair nation and its people of course (though only the largest faith needs protecting because I guess the others are mature enough to protect themselves) we have this pretty strict system of moral policing. Though this only applies to members of the single largest faith in the country.

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the single largest faith in the country so if I do get something wrong, please let me know and I will correct right away. Well after some verification at least.

If you haven’t Googled it yet, the single largest faith in Malaysia is Islam. Though I am a kafir, I still feel for the community because I have a lot of close friends who are Muslims. So here it goes. I’ve got nothing against Islam. It’s a pretty cool religion. Really quite compassionate. Why else would the early kingdoms of the Malay Peninsula embrace Islam? (Oklah, maybe there were some economic benefits too but let’s not delve into that. )

Remember when we pulled the plug on Erykah Badu’s concert (after she landed in the country) because she had a temporary tattoo of the symbol for Allah on her in one of her album covers? Remember how she got on a flight and performed at the Java Jazz Festival in the country with the largest Muslim population on Earth? Even though Malaysia is a secular state, it has on some occasions taken a harder line on Islamic issues than many other Islamic states.

Recently, you may have seen the name Irshad Manji popping up. The Ugandan-born Canadian author has been in the spotlight in our neck of the woods after she got into a sticky situation down in Indonesia. See, for once our friendly neighbours beat us to it. In Irshad Manji’s case her Malaysian publisher, ZI Publications, had it’s offices raided and her books were seized. Heck, her publisher was even charged in court.

This brings with itself the issue of freedom of expression and censorship. We see it time and time again in this country. Walk into a movie rated “18SX” and you still won’t see any sex scenes.

The Government has been throwing around the word ‘transformation’ a lot these days too. ETP, GTP we’ve all seen it. It’s as though they hired one of those management consultants who throw around all those buzz words and stuff. Here’s my question: if you (Mr. Najib and your cabinet) want the country to transform, why do still treat us like kindergarteners? Cutting out cuss words from movies, banning books that you think we shouldn’t read, movies that we shouldn’t watch, music that we shouldn’t listen to. What gives? An advisory rating is a rating. Don’t go and say it’s for mature audiences but continue to censor it.

I got to see the trailer from the really bad sounding movie Piranha 3DD. The tagline: Double the action, double the terrors, double the Ds. Instead the trailer only had double the action and double the terrors. They completely cut out the slow-motion montage of voluptuous breasts. (I know this thanks to YouTube) They just took out the biggest part of the movie.

I know I have digressed from my main topic of moral and religious policing. The thing is, things like censorship effect all strata of society not just a particular group of people. I don’t normally get angry, but the idea that the someone has been put in a position to cut out information that is deemed unfit for me (even as I approach the age of majority) just sets me off. If someone came up to me and said let me hook you up with a girl, though I could use the help, I’d have to decline. What puts another person in the position to make a decision for me?

But it is at times like these when I tell myself that at least I have it better off. Because it is at this time that I remember my Malaysian Muslim friends. They are born into a religion that they cannot leave. They are told what they cannot drink and when they cannot eat. Who they can marry and who they can’t? And all this is enforced by a legal code that only applies to them.

REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad | Protesters hold placards that read "Don't Challenge Islam" in a protest against the "Conversion to Islam" forum held by Malaysian Bar Council in KL August 9, 2008.

I wouldn’t mind if religious policing applied to all religions. I mean sure I’d feel oppressed if my pastor sent uniformed men into my house on a Sunday morning to drag me to church but at least we’d all be equally oppressed. Unless you were an atheist, then I guess you’d be spared. Or maybe you could pull it off by going agnostic.

From my perspective, this paints a picture where the Muslim population of the country has to be protected from their own thinking. Forgive me, if it sounds harsh. It places the religious “authorities” as guardians and protectors of the faith, oh wait, that’s the Agong’s job isn’t it? I mean, come on, if someone picked up a Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia version of the Bible and saw the word “Allah” in it, there’s no way they would be confused or be lead to think that they’re reading the Quran.

But the incident around the book Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta is pushing things too far. At least with the “Allah in the Bible” incident you could claim proselytising but now the “authorities” have deemed that Irshad Manji’s views on Islam are not suitable for a country like Malaysia  and should not be allowed to infiltrate the minds of Malaysians (Hitler’s views are perfectly fine though and I’m quite happy about that). They’ve effectively appointed themselves into a position to decide what version of their own religion should be allowed in the country. What I’m trying to say is, if I wanted to have a liberal outlook on my religion be it Islam or whatever, I should the right to. I should not be completely cut off to materials that could further develop my thinking. You have your beliefs and I have my beliefs.

I’ve had friends who have gone through a lot of grief and hard times just because they are forced to follow a belief system that they don’t understand. I’ve had friends who’ve gone through heartbreak because their religion says they can’t marry someone from outside their religion. Not only do they feel morally bound but they’re also legally bound. Now tell me if that’s fair. Of course it’s not fair. But it’s the truth. And face it you’ve heard worse. A little heartbreak is nothing.

*I apologize for any errors that I may done. I am not an expert in the subject but it was something that I’d been wanting to write for sometime. If there are aspects of Islam and local Syariah Laws that I may have misinterpreted, please alert me and I will rectify it.

 

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Daniel is a young Malaysian who respects everyones voice and opinion. As long as they realise the power in their voice and opinions. You can find him splattered across the web from Twitter to Pinterest but start at his blog.

Posted on 7 June 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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19 Responses to F**k the (moral) police

  1. Wai

    Regarding movie censorship… as a lifelong film geek, this has always been one of my biggest gripes about living in this country. It is completely arbitrary, random, and counter-productive. Simply because anything the moral police censors/bans naturally causes an even stronger curiosity to seek out the censored stuff. And we all know you can find anything on the net.

    Having said that, the censorship of movies has "improved" in recent years. As far back as 2006, there have been films (like "300" and "Babel") that escaped the scissors to quite a surprising extent, where you could see pretty much full frontal nudity. I kid you not. But those were quick flashes, and other more "extreme" scenes were still edited or removed completely. Plus, swearing is now allowed in 18-rated flicks.

    Btw, "Waist Of Space" would make an awesome band name. Just sayin'.

  2. Farouq Omaro

    Freedom of religion in Sabah and Sarawak is to be upheld in the Malaysia Agreement. Article 11(4) which restricts the propagation of other religions to Muslims shall NOT apply in Sabah and Sarawak. As for Halit, you can go fly kites!!!

  3. CAN Convert Muslims

    someone didnt like this comment, and disallowed me from posting it. i'm reposting it now. i think it is only fair that we have the chance to discuss this question in a mature way.

    actually, has anyone noticed these words in Article 11(4) of the Constitution:

    "may control or restrict the propagation".

    it does NOT say, state law may BAN or PROHIBIT. these words obviously have VERY DIFFERENT meanings!!

    which means, you actually C-A-N propagate other religions even to muslims. just that they may control the way you do it, i.e. cant do it to anyone below 21 years old. bottom line is, it is PERMISSIBLE to propagate to muslims.

    following from that, surely, if it is PERMISSIBLE to propagate to muslims, then it must also be permissible for the muslim to CONVERT OUT of Islam.

    therefore, all these nonsense about banning apostasy and use of BM bibles, not to mention writing about Islam 'liberally', must be considered UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    but who among the eminent judges on the bench today would dare to speak up for the truth and to uphold the constitution????

  4. CAN Convert Muslims

    actually, has anyone noticed these words in Article 11(4) of the Constitution:

    "may control or restrict the propagation".

    it does NOT say, state law may BAN or PROHIBIT. these words obviously have VERY DIFFERENT meanings!!

    which means, you actually C-A-N propagate other religions even to muslims. just that they may control the way you do it, i.e. cant do it to anyone below 21 years old. bottom line is, it is PERMISSIBLE to propagate to muslims.

    following from that, surely, if it is PERMISSIBLE to propagate to muslims, then it must also be permissible for the muslim to CONVERT OUT of Islam.

    therefore, all these nonsense about banning apostasy and use of BM bibles, not to mention writing about Islam 'liberally', must be considered UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    but who among the eminent judges on the bench today would dare to speak up for the truth and to uphold the constitution????

  5. Kromme

    The writer is right of course……but dude….you are in alot of trouble…….are you living in Malaysia?……get out now if you don't want to go to jail

  6. Jai

    probably the most interesting comment is from Halit…..and btw how do you take seriously a person, when the best title he can come out for his article is such!!! goodness me………:)

  7. Fftr

    Nice… RPK….. Fight for the right!

  8. Ho Choong Sin

    I remember some Malays used to eat "char siew". They say it is not pork, it is red in colour.

    Then there are those Malays who love "char keow teow" Chinese-style, with the "chee yeow char" pieces. They claim it is not pig, it is "kacang". They ask the "char keow teow" fellow to "tambah kacang, ye?"

  9. farha

    Nice one, Daniel. I’m a Muslim and I shall remain one because it’s my conviction. Not because Jakim tell me what book to avoid reading, what food has the Jakim-halal label, or whether they ban a singer with a temporary Allah tattoo. Hell, some may be happy for Jakim to babysit them, but I’m grown-up and I’ll make my own decision, thank you!!

    • fatharpro

      I salute you for your perspective on your religion. If only the vast majority of muslims believes, feels and are brave enough to say the same. The truth is that all that is bad and evil about islam has been allowed to dominate every public space, as much in Malaysia as in most muslim dominant countries. So the fact that you are grown up and that you'll make your own decision may be delusional.

  10. Halit

    Well,Daniel Subramaniam most likely you were drunk or you were looking for attention you deserve & I am sure you will get a knock on your door soon.
    You are not Kafir,you are a member of Indian community & nobody asked your opinion & stick with whatever you believe or you might nor believe.
    I am sure you are offending many Muslims & your opinion is as insignificant as your worthless existence frankly you are a waist of space.
    Who gave you the right to insult to other religions & do you think you have a freedom to do that?Not even in America or Australia people do not have that type of freedom.
    You have much to learn & I am sure you will learn hard way.

    You are swearing to Jakim & Jaiz /well,probably you done it now.

    • Grammar Nazi

      you are a waist of space

      Bitch please, WASTE of SPACE NOT waist of space

      please correct your grammar before posting any useless replies..

    • think

      don't be offended, he's not insulting your religion, he's talking about external forces that change "religion" into rules, restrictions, and how they want people to live. its your own personal beliefs, so its between you and your God, not you and some organization.

    • dansub0123

      Hi Halit, I respect your opinions on my post and I welcome the critique. I just wanted to point out that I am not a member of the Indian community, I'm actually of Ceylon-Tamil descent (it's a common mistake though). Secondly, my actual intent was to focus on the authorities interpretations on the religion not to insult it . In that respect, thanks for pointing out that my point wasn't as clear cut as I wanted it to be. I shall work on that next time.
      Lastly, you spelt Jais wrongly.

  11. Malaysian Housewife

    Brilliant piece of write-up! Thank God I am a Muslim living in Europe so I do not need somebody to tell what I should and should not do!

  12. Burn hell burn

    The same fuck policing between the gays and the American Jesusfreak idols. You should watch this clip from AlJazeera. How would peace on earth come about? Not Christmas but when we fucking stop wasting our time praying. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDGf2xgy7DE

  13. Fair & Equal

    Moral policing is a waste of resources. Parasites like jakim, jais, muis, etc. should be shut down. It is morally presumptuous. What is wrong with not praying, fasting, drinking alcohol or eating delicious pork? Not everyone believes what the koran says – muslims included. Everyone should have the right to their own believes and not be compelled into accepting another.
    Apostasy & proselytizing should be allowed whether it be to muslims or non muslims to whatever religion even judaism or atheism. That would be fair. I have many muslim friends whom are unhappy being muslim in Malaysia and I know many whom have left the country and also Islam. They are much happier in other religions or as atheists.

  14. Pepper Lim

    Nice!