Siti Kasim: Leave Religion to Malay Rulers and Out of National Schools

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Matters concerning the Islamic faith should be left solely to the Malay rulers and not to the government, said human rights lawyer Siti Kasim.

“Leave religion to the sultans because that is under their purview, not under the federal government. The federal government is to manage the country,” she told the Whither Maruah Malaysia 2.0 forum in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Kow Gah Chie/Malaysiakini

She also said religion should be kept out of national schools.

She added that such a policy would help address racial and religious problems in the country while preventing “brainwashing” in schools.

“Malaysia seemed to be getting more and more racist and exclusivist in its religious policies by the day,” she said, adding problem arises as race and religion was used as political weapon to the fullest.

“(They) use the emotions of the Malays to hate others… We are by any measure today one of, if not the, most racist and religiously bigoted nation on earth.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

“Which other nation reserves 90% of publicly funded university places for one race? (There is) even one that is 100% exclusive to only one race.”

“What is the solution? We must actually force our government to change the education system, change our national schools

“If you do not improve the standard of national schools, I think not even the Malay want to send their kids to the national schools within the next 10 years.”

However, Siti believed that the government of the day does not have the fortitude to transform the education system because politicians are looking out for their own interests.

The richest and poorest people in Malaysia are the Malay. They (the politicians) don’t want to change the narrative of the Malay because they want to continue robbing the poor Malays.

“They want to keep the Malay stupid by not changing the education system. They are saying you are not supposed to question as it is against the god to do so.”

Siti said Malays made up almost 80% of the civil service: “Which other nation on earth today has such disproportionate and institutionalised policies on race compared to its actual population demographics (except for) Malaysia? Where is the dignity in that?”

“Where is the dignity in funding a single religion’s affairs using taxpayers’ funds when our own constitution mandates that others of different religions must never be compelled to fund those that are not theirs?

Where is the dignity in not allowing ordinary human beings to practise their religion of choice in their own way (and compelling them to obey) what is gazetted by law in accordance to so-called muftis and majlis ulamak of the state?

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

“Nothing in my Quran has ever mandated such a practice. Where is the dignity in forcing others to follow your version of religion?”

Siti said despite being discriminated against, the Orang Asli appeared to be more dignified than other communities.

“I know a bit about ‘maruah’ (dignity) especially after spending years with our Orang Asli or Orang Asal in this country. When you have lived among them, in the midst of the rainforests like the Temiars and Bateks do, watching them raise their family, with and from nothing, you will come to appreciate dignity like never before.”

“What it tells you is that, we, all of humanity, are born with dignity. And that dignity is equal and innate to our being.”