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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Poll Position: The Potential Destructiveness of Politicizing Islam

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Based on the last poll done, the results are overwhelming – the politicization of Islam in Malaysia is NOT a good thing.

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It’s a result that Walski personally agrees with.

Any time religion is politicized – any religion – it’s never good news. And when a particular religion gets irreversibly intertwined with governmental policy, and then gets politicized, you know it’s REALLY bad news. 
(poll analysis, and more, in the full post)

The politicization of Islam that Walski alludes to is the fact that UMNO has been increasingly been using Islam as a means to garner Malay support, which the party believes it has lost to rival PAS.

Evidence of this includes the recent recruitment of 40 or so young clerics (ulama) into UMNO that was heavily publicized. But the most obvious is how various personalities within UMNO incessantly dredge up the idea of unity talks between the party and PAS, despite the latter’s insistence that it ain’t gonna happen. Even the Mufti of Perak recently got himself into the limelight over this, when he claimed that he was approached by individuals within PAS to broker unity talks, a claim that has since been denied by PAS.

So, despite whatever Ibrahim Ali says, you can’t deny the fact that Islam is being used as a political leverage. Because the reality is like the proverbial elephant – it’s in the room, but Ibrahim Ali simply refuses to acknowledge its presence.

As if on cue, Perkasa now seems to be talking more about insults against Islam, rather than their usual Malay rights diatribe. One really has to be several bricks short of a full house to not see this. In doing so, whether sanctioned by the party or not, Perkasa is also portraying itself to be UMNOs mouthpiece.

Be that as it may, an overwhelming 86% agreed that that the increased politicization of Islam in Malaysia will lead to more polarization, which in turn won’t lead to anything good.

There were three other responses that were offered by 6% of the poll participants:

  • a sign that Malaysia will end up in the longkang (drain)
  • spur the secularists to join forces. Yeehaaawww
  • a desperate attempt to cling on to power

And consistent with the 86%, none of the Other respondents thought that the increased politicization was a good thing either. Or, at least, that’s how Walski looks at it.

In fact, only 8% didn’t see the increased politicization as negative – 6% felt that it was actually a good thing, while the remaining 2% thought that it was a figment of Walski’s imagination. In other words, taking the Ibrahim Ali denial approach.

At the end of the day, both UMNO and PAS are political parties, nothing more and certainly nothing less. As one poll participant quite succinctly put it,

"It’s not peace in heaven that religion is after, but political power here on Earth...."
(source: Poll commenter Siti Kasim)

Malaysian politics on its own can be quite volatile. Add religion into the mix, and what you create is a situation that can be downright capricious… and definitely not something any Malaysian would want to look forward to.