I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.
It is claimed that religious unity is also a factor in the formation of nations. Whereas, we see the contrary in the Turkish nation. Turks were a great nation even before they adopted Islam. This religion did not help the Arabs, Iranians, Egyptians and others to unite with Turks to form a nation. Conversely, it weakened the Turks’ national relations; it numbed Turkish national feelings and enthusiasm. This was natural, because Mohammedanism was based on Arab nationalism above all nationalities.
- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938)
Kemal Ataturk, as the founding father of Turkey has consistently insisted on racial integration of all races to form a united Turkey. One of the things to ensure proper racial relations and integration is the to forbid the religion factor from interfering with the governance of the nation, but still gives people the opportunity to worship as they will. (see the first quote, which he said in July 1917.)
Lately, I have been observing series of events and news that have been somewhat related to the subject, for instance the moral snoop squad on the Malay people who celebrate Valentine's day. Many people, including those non-Malays who were unwillingly dragged into the religious affair found this as a direct invasion of their privacy. This is for instance is a case where a people of their own religion were held against to act on their free will and conscience, as well as interfering with logic.
What I don't really understand is in Malaysia that religion is factored in governance. Many people have felt that this has already been considered as discriminating and considered bias. The survey by Merdeka Center, as reported by The Malaysian Insider today (see chart above) shows that there is a close tie and many non-Malays in particular felt themselves being treated second-class. Even the Malay counterparts have the same feeling but in a different story, but the same thing in common: religion radicalism in politics, lack of chance to express freedom. You can say that many young people are really worried of the problems mentioned below:
Worst still, there have been calls by the local Muslim clerics to draw up a line of regulations of interacting between Muslims and non-Muslims. This already doesn't make sense and against logic. If a disease spreads to everyone without recognizing the person's skin color or descendant then the statement above is going against reasoning and logic. In fact, this is one way complete racial integration among other races in Malaysia can't and will never happen successfully. It in fact, on the contrary will alienate more people from other relations from meeting and interacting together merely because of the many illogical and superstitious restrictions imposed on them. From the beginning Malaysia is always intended to be a secular country with one official religion, customs of all races respected and retained but never to the extent that the religion factor will be stamping on other pillars of the nation
Simply put, it will not make people to discern, reason and think but it ultimately makes people inferior and subservient to something that is against their own conscience. What is clearly understood is that each mainstream religion encourages people to do good and does not use compulsion on mankind - which is you can force something on to them, but instead it is up to a person to decide. Whether or not a person will do it or not, it is the person that will bear the consequences of their actions. Intervention and interference in the name of religion.
Ataturk was right on in one line: Conversely, it weakened the Turks’ national relations; it numbed Turkish national feelings and enthusiasm. Looking at France and Singapore as case of examples, how can a nation push for good racial integration where the purpose of the nation precedes others in proper and good policy implementation? Race and religion will have to come into the lowest of all rungs and factors - whereas the right to practice faiths will still be allowed for it's a man's right. Simply travel to a well advanced nation e.g in Europe, Australia, America, etcc and ask someone there whether if religion is factored into implementing and execution of a government policy. Not likely.
I am certain that if Tunku were still around, Tunku could have agreed that things have gone wrong. Many who have seen or met Tunku in the flesh would definitely noticed or testified how Tunku lived a simple life while running the country during his tenure. Keeping things simple and short is definitely better than making too many things complex and difficult like what we're seeing it right now.
I once recalled reading about Patton and his view on race and nationality. It was very identical to what Ataturk mentioned above and he summarized the flaw of Islam (he read the Quran during his North Africa tour of operations) in fatalism (leaving it to fate / takdir) and utter degradation of women, and that he said was the cause of arrested development in Arab. (see Patton's Wikipedia entry). Notice this line from Ataturk's quote in parallel: This was natural, because Mohammedanism was based on Arab nationalism above all nationalities. Does our Malay Supremacy thing parallel what is said?
As an afterthought, I am aware that some people are not willing to take this commentary because of criticism involving the religion factor but by looking far ahead, Malaysia cannot afford to be in this position of having religion factor interfering with nation building. There is a need to give and take at one another, but so far, we've seen one side giving for others but another unwilling to give but only take because of the thinking that their side monopolies most aspects of Malaysian life.
I suppose we have been too familiar with the "shut up, no questions and listen" routine that anyone tries to point out or try to talk an issue out of this is met with brickbats by the group of butter-up boys. Antagonizing religion was never part of it but given of the indirect holier than thou bragging that hits the news almost everyday, this has to be put into doubt and question. As said before, there have been unhappy faces at times branding me an infidel but sometimes those accused turned out to be behaving themselves better than those who accused.
Eventually, the issue and events above draws down to the few questions risen from examining the problem:
1. How will Malaysia's racial integration be successful if there is constant religious interference & bias?
2. How will we let the people able to use logic, think properly if we keep hawking down on them and never give them the space to maneuver and act on their free will?
3. Is it really that our national enthusiasm, feelings and relationship with our country blood siblings strained because of this factor imposed on us by those who believe to be acting on behalf of the religion?