Malaysiakini commentary : ‘RPK the sailor-man’ riles up ABIM
The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) was recently assaulted by Raja Petra Kamaruddin in his Malaysia Today column “No Holds Barred“. A response is in order, with the expletives he has resorted to not included. At threshold, one should note that Muslims and all civilized people are encouraged to rationally and responsibly discuss issues, and discouraged from using inappropriate language. ABIM believes in civilized resolution of conflict, not accusatory statements, especially those without substance and stated in sailor’s language.
Firstly, RPK has associated ABIM with a political movement. He has no knowledge, and if he does he does not evince it, of ABIM’s historic role as a leading Islamic NGO, which by definition is a non-political and non-partisan organization. By merely calling upon a political party or grouping, namely BN and UMNO, to explain its proposed percentage changes on a matter of importance to Malays and other ethnic groups in Malaysia is not to be part of that group, but to seek satisfactory explanation for its deviance from the accepted “social contract” of this country. It is fixed under Articles 153(2) and 153(3) of the Federal Constitution of this Country. The mere uphold of these provisions does not make one UMNO; it merely suggests a compliance with the normative rules of a democratic majority.
Furthermore, one need not look further than the other demographic segments of our society to see the overall reluctance of these groups to abandon ethnic identity and be treated as “Bangsa Malaysia”. ABIM acknowledges and participates in our multi-ethnic, multi-religious society, not only for the benefit of Muslim youths but for the benefit of all in our society. To allege otherwise and identify this NGO with the political policies and agenda of one party is a serious accusation without any foundation. ABIM seeks to have government – meaning both the majority and the opposition – act ethically and legally, and seeks this for the benefit of all Malaysians regardless of the ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Secondly, by RPK calling us ‘munafik’ and ‘fasik’ has in effect equated us as non-Muslims. He has accused us of being “b…s…t” and hypocrites. In point of fact, ABIM has not objected to RPK’s right to speak and argue his points, even though as individuals and as a group we may disagree with particulars. We feel, however, that the use of his media for the purpose of defamation of an Islamic organization is a breach of his responsibilities as a Muslim, a Malaysian citizen and as a journalist blogger. Our important duty as a Muslim is to engage in RESPECTFUL and APPROPRIATE discussion and debate. Using “b…s…t” as an adjective is neither of these requisite elements to discussion and presentation.
RPK has neglected some major facts: Islam itself acknowledges and respects diversity and plurality in society. ABIM treasures this, and works in conjunction with friends from other non-Muslim groups and NGOs so that Islamic principles are given voice and taken into consideration along with other perspectives. Secondly, he fails to note that ABIM seeks to encourage inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue that continues and deepens current mutual understanding. The underlying assumption of the NEP is one matter in need of protracted and open discussion between the demographic groups, and is encouraged by ABIM. Factually, ABIM has no identity with any political party. If such an identity exists today, it would not be with the ruling party: previous leadership of the organization alone would lead to that assumption. But ABIM has always remained non-political, non-partisan and any assumption or argument to the contrary is faulty, misguided and used by the speaker or writer to further his own agenda. RPK places emphasis on party loyalty. In fact, ABIM urges all to answer the higher call of being a servant of Allah before being loyal to any other. At no time in its history has ABIM confused its greatest loyalty, which is to our Creator, Allah the Almighty. If anything, ABIM asks our leaders and members to have the same dedication. While we sympathize with RPK’s confused misunderstanding of Islam, we are appalled at how ironical it is that RPK in his vulgar-languaged polemic feels that some of the political leadership think that they are guaranteed paradise by their actions. To be guaranteed paradise is to only do acts for the pleasure of Allah. Apparently, politicians and certain political commentators do not follow this simple intention.
ABIM is always anxious and willing to engage in a REASONABLE, RESPECTFUL and APPROPRIATE opportunity to exchange views with all members of Malaysian society, its critics included. But attacks and baseless allegations do not encourage such dialogue; to the contrary, they impair and disable it. RPK has not only darkened his reputation as an observer and commentator, he has also sought to darken that of a viable, honest and valued Islamic NGO within Malaysian culture. He does himself, ABIM, and its objectives of dialogue between all of us a great disservice. And Allah knows best.