Reversing the trend towards totalitarianism


Freedoms, liberties and absence of restrictions should apply equally to all ethnic groups in the county.

From: Tariq Ismail and Amir Isa of Aura Merdeka via e-mail

We refer to the statement issued by the G33 which was published in The Star on January 12. We agree that there are many freedoms and liberties accorded to all the races in this country in the practice of their religion and culture. It is also true that there are no restrictions for non-Malays to work and do business in our beloved homeland.

However, we feel that these freedoms, liberties and absence of restrictions should apply equally to all ethnic groups in the county as their constitutionally-guaranteed rights as citizens, including Malays and Muslims.

These rights and the principles of Rukunegara reflect and preserve the rich and colourful co-mingling of cultures and the economic and social freedoms that is Malaysia, and have made us one of the most beautiful and desirable countries to live and invest in.

We are committed to ensuring that this happy state of affairs continues into the future as we transform into a fully-developed nation in every sense of the word, in line with our Wawasan 2020 mission.

Therefore, we cannot remain indifferent to the threats against national unity and the tensions that are rising as Malaysians see intolerance over race and religion gathering pace. As each new fatwa, decree or directive is issued, impinging on the personal matters of religion, faith or belief, we appear to step ever nearer to becoming a totalitarian state with moral police, thought police or belief police monitoring and controlling what are entirely private matters for each individual.

We are implacably opposed to any form of state control over, or interference in, the religious beliefs and practices of individuals, irrespective of the faith, denomination thereof and ethnic group that an individual belongs to as long as those practices are within the bounds of our Constitution.

The G33 statement also talks about glaring economic and income inequalities in the country. However, we point out that the inequality within the Malay community is greater than the inequality between the Malays and non-Malays.

This shows that existing affirmative action policies have had limited success in advancing the economic standing of a few individuals but have failed to materially impact the vast majority of Malays, who remain painfully underprivileged.