Dear Cousin (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

This means Malaysians are easily fooled and would swallow hook, line and sinker any crap thrown in their direction. And this is one reason the government can’t allow Christians to talk to Malays. Malays are too stupid to analyse which religion is better — Islam or Christianity — and they would easily be tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dear Cousin, 

I thought I should write to you and explain the current controversy raging in Malaysia regarding the recent church raid by the Selangor Religious Department. This follows closely behind the allegation that a meeting was held in Penang recently to plot turning Malaysia into a Christian state.

For someone who has once lived and worked in Malaysia I am sure you are quite perturbed by this turn of events because you had delightfully found Malaysians to be a peaceful and friendly community. And you in particular found the Malays, Indonesians and Filipinos a very easygoing people. Therefore, this hysteria about the Christian conspiracy is a far departure from what you understand the Malays to be.

I suppose, like me, you have a very different tolerance level towards other religions. Well, when we have Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists and Agnostics in our family, we tend to be more liberal and tolerant when it comes to religion. But then, we are in the minority and the majority of Muslims would probably view us as ‘deviants’.

Religion has never been tolerant. In England, I know, we do not have a problem of religious conflicts. But then, Cousin, you are looking at the England of today. Was the England of a few hundred years ago any less extreme? Remember the time when Jews had to wear ‘The Star of David’ on their chest and were forced to live in ghettos? Not enough with that, the Jews were later expelled from England and for a long time were banned from English soil.

Then we had a time when Catholics were arrested and burned alive and later, when a Catholic succeeded the throne of England, Protestants were arrested and burned alive. Even Queens suffered this fate. And this is Christian killing Christian, mind you, people who believe in the same God but did so differently (no different from the Sunni-Shiah situation in Islam today).

Maybe that was 400 years ago, you may say. Well, 400 years ago is not really that too long ago. And Islam was ‘founded’ 600 years after Christianity so you can expect Islam to be 600 years behind Christianity in some of its attitudes towards other religion — just like how Christianity was back in the 1400s and 1500s.

Nevertheless, Muslims do not arrest and burn alive those considered ‘deviant Muslims’ or apostates. Countries like Malaysia just detain them without trial and send them for religious rehabilitation, like what happened to me back in September 2008.

You must understand, Cousin, Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. And, according to the Federal Constitution, Malays are automatically Muslims. Furthermore, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., are by law not allowed to preach to Muslims. That would be a crime in Malaysia. And if you give a Muslim a copy of the Bible to read, especially if the Bible is in the Malay language, that would be a serious offense.

Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam and convert to other religions. Those that do, do so secretly. Invariably, they become ‘closet’ Christians, Hindus or Buddhists. They will not even dare tell their own family that they are no longer Muslims. Many migrate to other countries rather than stay in Malaysia as ‘ex-Muslims’.

Actually, the Malaysian government will not want to openly admit this, but quite a number of Malays have left Islam. Some have left Islam to become Christians (not so many become Hindus or Buddhists). But we do not know the real figures because very few would openly declare their apostasy for fear of arrest.

Then we have many Malays who are Muslims in name only but are not practising Muslims. They sort of ‘masquerade’ as Muslims but do not really believe in Islam. But they have to pretend they are still Muslims or else they will get ostracised by society and disowned by their families. 

So you see, Cousin, the Malaysian government needs to protect the Malays. If the Malays are exposed to the teachings of other religions many may actually leave Islam. The government is scared that the Malays are stupid and are easily tricked into turning their backs on Islam.

In Malaysia, we have an organisation whose job is to spread Islam and get non-Muslims to become Muslims. It is funded by the government and paid for by the taxpayers. Mosques and other religious activities are also government-taxpayers funded. So it is perfectly legitimate.

That, I suppose, is the bone of contention to most non-Muslims. The government propagates Islam and the taxpayers pay for this effort. But the non-Muslims may not propagate their religion to the Muslims even if they pay for this effort from their own pocket.

I know, to someone like you, this may sound extremely unfair and one-sided. The government propagates Islam and persuades non-Muslims to convert to Islam but the non-Muslims are not allowed to do the same and if they do they would get arrested.

But that is how things are done in Malaysia and for 54 years since Independence or Merdeka, the non-Malays have never complained. For twelve general elections, the non-Muslims have voted in the same government. In fact, the government depends on the votes of the non-Muslims. If solely based on Muslim votes, the present government would have been kicked out a long, long time ago.

So why make an issue of this only now? This state of affairs was acceptable for almost 54 years. Now, suddenly, it has become an issue. Why make an issue out of it now when for 53 years the non-Muslims could live with this situation?

This is why many Malays have become upset. They are of the opinion that the non-Muslims are beginning to be kurang ajar (insolent). When you thought you had no hope of gaining political power, you supported the party in power and tolerated the discrimination and persecution and did not utter one word of complaint. Now that you think the party in power is at the end of its rule and may soon get kicked out, you start shouting and screaming about religious discrimination and persecution.

I suppose England managed to change this sorry situation when they separated the church from the state. In Malaysia, however, church and state is still very much one and the same. And that is why what we see in Malaysia today is what we saw in England 500 years ago (minus the burning at the stake of course but replaced with detention without trial).

We must understand one thing, Cousin, and this is a very important point you must note. Malays may have been sent to school for an education but this does not mean you are smart just because you have gone to school and have received an education.

You see, Cousin, Malaysia’s education system does not teach us how to think. They just teach us how to pass our exams. This is the basis of Malaysia’s education system. So you may have gone all the way up to university level but that does not mean you are a thinker or that you have analytical skills (unless you had the advantage of a foreign education from young).

This means Malaysians are easily fooled and would swallow hook, line and sinker any crap thrown in their direction. And this is one reason the government can’t allow Christians to talk to Malays. Malays are too stupid to analyse which religion is better — Islam or Christianity — and they would easily be tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.

But why would this be so? If the Malays are good Muslims and if Islam is a good religion, then surely they would not be easily tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.

Ah, but that is just the problem. Most Malays are not good Muslims. In fact, most Malays do not even understand Islam properly. Like robots, they just blindly follow the rituals they have been taught without really understanding the substance and the foundation of the religion. Even dogs can be taught to do tricks and parrots taught how to speak. This does not mean dogs and parrots understand what they are doing and can analyse their actions.

This is the Malay, or rather the Malay-Muslim, dilemma. And because of that, the government needs to insulate and isolate Malays from the teachings of the other religions. If the government allows the Christians to preach Christianity to the Malays, there would be very serious danger that many Malays would become Christians.

That is the crux to the whole matter.


Translated into Chinese at: