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Using Rohingyas, Dr M paints warning of weak Muslims

September 20, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept
20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad raised the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar as a
cautionary tale for Muslims in Malaysia yesterday, at a time when Umno is again
reaching out to PAS ostensibly for the sake of Islamic unity.

In a posting titled
“The Rohingyas” on his blog, the former prime minister said the troubles of the
ethnic minority were not unique but representative of the predicament facing
Islamic nations the world over.

“Almost all Muslim
countries and people are in trouble today. The latest are the Rohingyas of
Myanmar,” he wrote in his latest blog entry.

 “They are being forced to leave their own
homes and country, to flee in leaky boats, overloaded and prone to being
wrecked and they would be drowned (sic). All countries refuse to help these
unfortunate creatures and they and their leaky boats get pushed back into the
sea.”

Hundreds of
thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar over sectarian violence with
Buddhists. Malaysia alone is host to some 80,000 such refugees from the
country.

But Dr Mahathir
said this was in part their own doing, claiming that Muslims across the world
were being “bullied” from a failure to stand up together and for themselves.

“The weak of today
are the Muslims. And the Muslims are weak because they choose to be weak,”
Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister wrote in his latest entry.

According to Dr
Mahathir, this weakness was born from the complacency that Muslims have allowed
themselves to be lulled into with wealth and resources.

“Since the Muslims
care not for each other or for Islam anybody can beat any Muslim to death in
full view of the other Muslims.

“We Muslims in
Malaysia think this will not happen to us. So why should we care about what
happens to the Rohingyas. It is their problem, not ours,” he added.

Although the former
prime minister makes no mention of it in his entry, the message bore hallmarks
of the call for Muslim unity that has formed the basis of attempts to get Umno
and PAS to co-operate supposedly for the sake of the Malay community at large.

Muslim unity is a
common rallying cry from the Malay nationalist party, which appears to view the
elusive goal as a panacea of sorts to the various problems facing the country’s
largest religion.

It is often used
interchangeably with Malay unity, given the constitutional requirement that
Malays must also be Muslims.

On Tuesday, Deputy
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resurrected calls for unity talks
between the two rivals, coincidentally following a fresh agitation from the
Islamist party’s ulama (clergy) class for it to reassess its partnership within
the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact.

“It is important
for the country’s Muslims to be united because the Muslims still face many
challenges. There is a need to work together or otherwise we would have
problems.

“That is why (when
it comes to) talks about Umno and PAS, we have no problem with that,” the Umno
deputy president said at a forum at the International Islamic University here
on Tuesday.

This came after
members of PAS’s ulama approved a resolution at its Multaqa Ulama Se-Malaysia
convention on Sunday that the party should reconsider the “harm” of its
continued links to partners PKR and the PR pact.

Party sources later
told The Malay Mail Online that the call was likely alluding to the ongoing
legal tussle over “Allah” between Muslims and Christians here stemming from a
2009 court decision upholding the latter’s constitutional right to use the
Arabic word.

Unity talks between
PAS and Umno have continually surfaced after Election 2008, when Barisan
Nasional (BN) lost its parliamentary supermajority to the then-fledgling PR
pact.

It came to a head
in December 2010, when top leaders from both parties met quietly in a Christmas
Eve dinner hosted by the Terengganu Palace to discuss the issue of Malay-Muslim
unity.

The engagement
collapsed when PAS ― chiefly spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat ―
adamantly expressed support for non-Muslims’ right to use the word “Allah”.

But the “Allah”
issue does not split just the two rivals; the ulama class in PAS also share
Umno’s stance that the term was exclusive to Muslims, leading to schism within
the party.

And with the recent
losses suffered by the Islamist party’s progressive leaders during the May 5
general election, the previously dormant issue may resurface as the
conservatives push their way back into the limelight ahead of the PAS
elections.