PM Anwar’s personal conversion “ritual” has caused uneasiness amongst non-Muslims

At the outset, let me say this view may not be politically correct. However, I feel truth has to be said no matter how unpalatable or bitter it is.

Many Non-Muslims in the country are shocked with PM Anwar Ibrahim officially and openly converting a Hindu youth at a mosque after Friday prayers yesterday. While freedom of religion is enshrined in the Federal Constitution, the youth was clearly exercising his right to embrace a religion of his choice. There is willingness on his part to convert voluntarily hence the complaint does not lie there.

But the question being asked by millions of Non—Muslims is why should the initiation into Islamic faith be done by the PM himself. The rakyat expect PM to heal the country’s economy and show he is busy fixing the economy as the finance minister.

I can understand the act of welcoming a “saudara baru” into the faith is considered a noble and honorable duty. However, conducting the religious conversion ritual (forgive me if I got the term wrong) personally and publicly does not go well among the almost 45% non-Muslim population totaling almost 14 million citizens. He has never done this openly before.

So, the question that is being asked is why now after becoming the PM. Many ask if the PM is trying to prove he is a greater Muslim than PAS and PN by being the first sitting PM to have conducted a ritual to welcome a “saudara baru”. Personally, I have not heard of any previous sitting PM initiating a conversion ritual publicly. Nor has PM Anwar officially conducted this ritual as leader of the opposition before GE15 or at any other previous time publicly as what he did yesterday.

Malaysians were given a different picture of the PM since yesterday. Just analyze the social media discussions and various accusations levelled against the PM from the non—Muslims. Muslims, understandably would certainly look at the event in different lenses.

Malaysia is a unique country with distinctive cultural and religious practices. Each religion has its own sensitivities that need to be addressed carefully for the sake of national unity and acceptance of each other as brothers and sisters in a united country. While Muslims would see the act of PM as noble and divine and same cannot be said from the non-Muslims.

We have to ask ourselves honestly, how much of religious understanding has our education system taught our citizens in these 66 years. Has religious understanding improved and flourished all these years. Do Muslims truly understand the practices of Christians, Buddhists, Taoist, Hindus, Bahais or vice versa? Hence, the backlash against the PM in the public domain from the non-Muslim community is something that all leaders in the country need to study.

PKR is a multi-racial party with almost 45% Indians and probably 15% Chinese. The PM has always advocated multi racialism and politics of understanding and trusting each other. He has always preached about religious diversity and the need to embrace each other as fellow Malaysians despite the fact we come from differing racial and religious background.

The recent political trend has caused alarm to many non-Muslims. Just 7 days ago almost 80% non-Malays voted for PH. Had the PM done this 1 week before the 6 state elections, the outcome would obviously be different.

Hence my call to PM is to understand there are great expectations on him to be the PM for all communities and to make them comfortable with him.

Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy
Malaysian Advancement Party