…One might have expected that the leader of Malaysia’s democratic and officially secular government, Najib Razak, would have stepped up to defend the rights of his non-Muslim citizens. At the very least he might have encouraged police not to waste resources going after a priest for his vocabulary choices.
Instead the prime minister has been depressingly quiet on the controversy. Najib’s silence highlights his misplaced priorities, which are holding Malaysia back even as Indonesia, the Philippines and other neighbors zoom forward. … it’s playing the God card now to fire up its Malay base.
“This Allah issue is politically motivated,” says Chrisanne Chin, an executive committee member of the Council of Churches of Malaysia and head of the group’s youth movement. “UMNO’s political strategy is to demonize the minorities and create fear in the hearts of the Muslim Malays. In that way, UMNO is playing the only game it knows best, which is identity politics: race and religion. ..
One example: banning the Coalition of Malaysia NGOs, a grouping of 54 human-rights organizations, for promoting “rights that run contrary to Islam.” That decision last week prompted a sharp rebuke from Amnesty International, and it should have foreign business people questioning whether UMNO’s true agenda is economic reform or creeping Islamization.
Malaysia advertises itself as a vibrant beacon of multiculturalism and tolerance. But if UMNO really wanted to broaden its appeal, why not give all Malaysians the same opportunities? What about going further to cut red tape, or fostering entrepreneurship to create better-paying jobs? Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, Malaysia’s per-capita income hasn’t gotten far enough above the $10,000 mark for comfort. Instead of doing the hard stuff to break out of this middle-income trap, and to address a widening gap between rich and poor, the ruling party is resorting once again to ethnic chauvinism.
Programs like the NEP kill productivity, inhibit innovation and encourage multinational companies to operate elsewhere. Malaysia is losing more and more of its brightest minorities to meritocratic Singapore…
..in discussions about Asia’s future, Malaysia comes up less and less. Najib and UMNO should be worried less about what Christian priests are saying, and more about what the outside world is not.
source: The Edge