Defund Jakim and Jawi

Jakim and Jawi are as much a disgrace to Islam as they are to Malaysia.

Recent reports on Malaysia’s economic prospects have been grim. Decades of irresponsible government spending are catching up with us, the Ringgit has plunged, foreign investment is leaving our shores, and the country continues to hemorrhage talent. The government was recently pressured into a U-turn over toll hikes, but the simple fact remains that we badly need to find more money.

Various solutions have been suggested. Cracking down on corruption (if the government ever gets around to it) is said to have the potential to save tens of billions of Ringgit. Numerous spending cuts have also been proposed. Here’s an obvious one: Defund Jakim and Jawi.

Few organisations have less of a claim to funding, for few organisations have had such a noxious effect on our country. From their rabid persecution of the dog-loving Maznah Mohd Yusof and the Malay beauty contestants last year, to their fatuous threats over the ‘Allah’ issue, the officials of Jakim and Jawi have consistently worked to undermine reason and goodwill in Malaysia.

Jakim’s diktat to Muslims against celebrating Valentine’s Day, a day that commemorates love and romance, is the latest in their tirade of vitriol and intolerance.

Their hilariously incoherent post on their website (‘Practices such as the inverse of this is already a teenager and annual Taqwim necessary Christian’) shows that, in addition to their other considerable shortcomings, they are also grossly incompetent.

Jakim website with anti-Valentine’s Day explanation removed after drawing mockery from netizens

Why should they continue to enjoy support from Malaysian taxpayers to carry out their hateful and damaging activities? Jakim and Jawi are as much a disgrace to Islam as they are to Malaysia.

Tan Sri Khalid Abdul Bakar, the Inspector-General of the Police, has taken up their cause, threatening action against those who dare criticise Jakim’s anti-Valentine’s Day sermon — proof, I suppose, that Jakim’s stupidity is contagious.

He also added that non-Muslims have no right to comment on such matters as ‘they don’t concern them’, an argument that has been asserted many times before. Whilst it is true that it is Muslims who bear the brunt of Jakim’s persecution, this argument is patently illogical.

There is no issue that ‘doesn’t concern us’ just because it’s another group being persecuted. If we see people being bullied and persecuted we should stand up for them, regardless of whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim, Chinese, Indian, or Malay — it is a duty we owe them because they are fellow Malaysians, and fellow human beings. It is how it should be.

Think of all the money we could save by defunding Jakim and Jawi — all those petty officials who call themselves religious ‘scholars’ but who probably wouldn’t last a day at any reputable academic institution anywhere else in the world.

And not just that — think of all the money we’d save on policing against the instability they periodically rile up, or on court fees from the innocents they have charged or tried to charge for imagined crimes.

Use the money instead to build schools. Or to increase the wages of teachers, who are severely underpaid in Malaysia. Allocate the money instead to Sisters In Islam, which has dedicated itself to practicing and preaching the understanding and compassion of Islam, or to interfaith groups who carry out activities to build friendship between people of different religions.

On these grounds do I call for the defunding of Jakim and Jawi, until such time as their officials can prove themselves capable of carrying out their duties responsibly, or at least of opening their mouths without uttering foolishness and extremism.

I’d be very interested to see if their bigotry and intolerance can still survive without public subsidy.

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Shaun Tan is a Malaysian writer. He enjoys reading, partying, and talking about himself in the third-person. Contact him at [email protected]

Posted on 18 February 2014. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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