Jakim & Madani: Anwar comes full circle and completes what he started in 1982

Some Malaysians are disappointed with Prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, whom they think is treading a dangerous path by empowering the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

On 11 June, Anwar announced that he would give Jakim a bigger role in government policymaking. He claimed that Jakim’s input would benefit Malaysia and uplift the dignity of the government.

Anwar may come to regret this move because once Jakim has increased control, more money and tasted real power, they may not be so easy to rein in.

The PM may wish to please every section of society but he will end up pleasing no-one. He must learn to say “No!”

On the other hand, Anwar is behaving true to form. Isn’t he merely completing his aim of islamising the nation, a task he started in 1982, but was temporarily stalled?

Older Malaysians will recall that in 1982, the then prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, plucked a young, charismatic student leader from  the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM), to join Umno. It was one of Mahathir’s master strokes. The young man was Anwar and his appointment served two purposes.

First. As a member of Mahathir’s Umno administration, Anwar would not be able to organise any protest against the government for failing to help poor, struggling farmers.  

Second. As the co-founder of ABIM, Anwar fitted nicely into Mahathir’s plans. When Mahathir became PM in 1981, his vision was to quickly put Malaysia onto the manufacturing and industrial map.

However, PAS was a thorn in his side and he  needed someone to rebrand Umno and make it more Islamic than PAS and attractive to the Malays. The world was experiencing an Islamic resurgence because of the Islamic/Iranian  revolution of 1979. PAS capitalised on this and Malays were increasingly attracted to PAS.

When Anwar fell out with his former boss and was forced out of political circulation, jailed twice by rivals in Umno and stopped from his ambition of becoming PM, the islamisation process of Malaysia slowed down.

Now that Anwar is back as PM, he can complete his life’s work.

Under his administration, he said that Jakim had received higher allocations and a bigger role in policymaking in line with his “Malaysia Madani” concept.

Despite Jakim’s previous role which was confined  to preaching, halal certification, religious training, and Koran competitions, many Malaysians are wary of the controversial effect it has on their lives. They worry that giving Jakim a bigger say in formulating government policy is like playing with fire.

Some people will ask what Jakim has done for the Malays? The handling of halal issues by Jakim is littered with allegations of corruption. Halal certification is a billion dollar business but Jakim officials have denied being corrupt. They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Despite increased religious control over Malay/Muslim lives, why is the faith of today’s Muslim very fragile. Why do they exhibit religious insecurity? Compared to the Malays of the Merdeka era, today’s Muslims are afraid of dogs, even photos of pigs, are scared that the cross, crucifix or hymns can somehow make them want to convert to Christianity. They are fixated on rituals than in showing compassion to their fellow human being, if he were non-Muslim or were part of the LGBT community. Malay Muslims want ownership over certain words, like “Allah” and “solat” despite these words having been in use for centuries by Arab Christians.

Did Jakim criticise the convicted felon, Najib Abdul Razak’s 1MDB corruption?

Anwar said he had met Jakim leaders to urge them to help draft a national development policy framework based on the Malaysia Madani concept.

Jakim’s budget is bloated and the department is overstaffed. We do not need voyeurs aka the khalwat squads spying on couples. We do not need an intrusion into our private lives. What has Jakim done about incest in many Malay families or the sexual abuse committed by clerics? Or the high incidence of drug use in Malay/Muslims? Or the increase in teenage pregnancies? Or the physical and sexual abuse of Malay students in tahfiz and religious schools?

It is possible that empowering Jakim is another of Anwar’s clever tactics. It is analogous to making the class bully the class monitor, in the hope that with added responsibility and an official position, the newly appointed monitor will change his ways and act with increased responsibility and conscientiousness.

Anwar said that he wanted Jakim to ‘uplift’ the dignity of the government.

Only highly principled men and women with integrity can make a government act with dignity. How many are present in this Unity government, in the Opposition or in Jakim?

Finally, the Sultans of each state act as the guardians of Islam. Will they clash with Jakim? Who is overall in charge?

Anwar must know that Jakim has failed many Malays. Empowering Jakim in this manner is dangerous because once the genie is out of the bottle, there is no way of stuffing it back in.

(Published in Sin Chew)

Rebuilding Malaysia

1 Comment

  • Moohen says:

    Religion is a worldly problem. Any amount of mosques, or Hindu temples, or etc. Does not change anything. Does not bring any economic value or moral values. Malaysia is a typical example, besides India, etc.

    We thought Anwar had something new to offer as his speeches during election campaigns were so promising. No, he has reverted back to his old self. Boring!!
    Anwar thrives by seeking all types of religious fanatics to employ them under JAKIM to develop Malaysia. What a joke. DAP is quiet, Sabah and Sarawak do silently rumble, why?
    Lets keep on the lookout for that ideal leader as the choice now is all tainted to corruption..
    But sorry to add, Anwar will not leave any legacy and Malaysia will not prosper under Anwar’s mindset. AP la, BERNAS la, GLCs la, loading the Civil Service with more cash that they cannot work. Its all the old school of thought.
    Malaysia needs a vibrant new idea.
    MUDA has it but need time.

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