Of burning holy books and sparking chaos

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LEAVE it to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to figure out that burning a holy book is showing it the same respect as Muslims burning Qurans that are old and no longer used.

And of course, it must be done with good intentions, said the former Malaysian prime minister who defended his protege Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the Perkasa chief's threat to burn Bahasa Malaysia bibles last year.

"They (Perkasa) have to show respect to the Bible, burn it as how they burn the Quran."

Dr Mahathir also defended Ibrahim's statement, saying it was not seditious as claimed by critics, as his intention was not to provoke.

"In other words, he was giving an opinion that could be accepted by Muslims as it was not seditious," he added.

The acerbic politician is not alone in thinking that Ibrahim's words were no threat as even the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) have justified the Perkasa chief's statement as defending the sanctity of Islam.

Both Dr Mahathir and the AGC see no wrong and wonder what the fuss is all about.

Would they feel the same if other communities destroyed the Quran the same way they would destroy their own holy books? Or does only the views and feelings of one religious community matter in Malaysia?

Dr Mahathir's statement today is nothing short of careless and callous, and does nothing for better relations among the various communities in Malaysia. It is nothing short of double standards.

More so when it comes from the man who spoke of a Vision 2020 for Malaysia, where there would be a Bangsa Malaysia, where peace and harmony reign. Or was that just something to sell to Malaysians to keep power?

Perhaps, in his dotage and being out of power, Dr Mahathir does not think much of race relations and inter-faith ties in a country of 30 million people, where two out of five people are not Muslims.

Perhaps, he does not care any more because he is not in power and does not have to canvass support to keep power.

Perhaps, he is just about himself and his ilk.

But Malaysia is more than just one man, one faith and one community.

It is a country of many people, many races and many faiths. All who profess to be Malaysians and believe in God, not just any one religion.

One does not threaten to burn anyone else's holy books and think it will not spark chaos. It will. And it cannot be considered as respect but as a downright insult.

But not in the perverse world of Dr Mahathir. What a pity, to think that he was once respected as a prime minister who brought change and development to Malaysia. – October 29, 2014.