The Constitutionality Of Meritocracy

Meritocracy can be defined as “an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth” as well as “leadership by able and talented persons.” It basically means giving something to those who deserve it.

Some people have suggested that Malaysia should be operating on the system of meritocracy as it ensures that only those who are capable & deserving receive the benefit, job, etc. I agree it is a good system, but I want to analyse it from a legal viewpoint

Is meritocracy unconstitutional? The answer is, it depends. Depends on what? It depends on what you want meritocracy to apply to.

Let’s say you suggest that meritocracy apply in terms of the awarding of scholarships and placements in universities. Article 153 talks about the reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak. Article 153(2) expressly mentions “scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government.” So yeah, if regarding ‘quota’s and scholarships’, meritocracy would be unconstitutional.

Let’s say you’re talking about meritocracy regarding positions in the public service. Article 153(2) covers “positions in the public service (other than the public service of the state).” Therefore, it would be unconstitutional to demand for meritocracy for that as well

How about meritocracy regarding the appointment of Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers? Meritocracy would not be unconstitutional, but it would be a bit impractical. According to Article 43 and 43A, the YDP Agong appoints them (the ministers & deputy ministers) on the advice of the PM. However, the PM is only allowed to choose from the crop of members of either House of Parliament [Article 43(2)(b) and 43A(1)]

If we practiced meritocracy, none of the MPs may be qualified for the position of Minister of Defence as most (if not all), do not have any military background. The next best choice might not even be suitable for the job. Hence we would be back to square one (having incompetent ministers). The only solution would be for the political parties to field candidates from all walks of life. Then at least the talent pool is greater and more diverse

* This article can also be found at Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider

Is Malaysia An Islamic Country?

This is a point of contention every time the question of hudud pops up. Those all for hudud say, “Malaysia is an Islamic country, therefore we should have Islamic laws” while those against hudud say “Malaysia is a secular country and Islamic law has no place in it”

In actual fact, I think Malaysia is neither an Islamic country nor a secular one. We are an extremely unique country in the sense that we are UNDEFINED

“An Islamic state ( Arabic: ﺍﻟﺪﻭﻟﺔ ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻣﻴﺔ al-dawlah al-islamīyah ) is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law” as per Wikipedia. In Malaysia, our Federal Consitution is the basis for government, hence we do not fulfill the primary requirement of being an Islamic state

At this point, all the pro-secular country advocates are rejoicing. However, as per Wikipedia, “secular states do not have a state religion (established religion) or equivalent.” As we all know (or should know), Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation. So Malaysia cant be a secular state by virtue of having an established religion

In Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosector, Tun Haji Muhammad Salleh bin Abbas (former Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia) said that the laws of Malaysia are secular. Many have misconstrued his statement to mean that Malaysia is a secular country. After all, it is logical that a secular country would be governed by secular laws. However, as I rightly pointed out, we are not a secular state as we do not fulfill the requirements to be one

Tunku Abdul Rahman once said that “The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion”. Tun Hussien Onn reaffirmed it when he said,  “The nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.” In 2001, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly declared that Malaysia is an Islamic country. Despite being the PM then, it was not in their power to declare Malaysia as a secular state/an Islamic state as even they (the PMs then) are subjected to the purview of the Federal Constitution.

No matter what individuals may say, Malaysia remains an ambiguous state until the glorious day when the Constitution is amended to expressly state whether Malaysia is an Islamic state or a secular state. In conclusion, Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state but neither is it a Secular state

* Read it also at The Malaysian Insider

Is Hudud In The Bible?

I was in serious shock when I read a few articles saying hudud is in the Bible. One of it is found at DUN N26 Bangi, Selangor’s blog while there is another at My Journey Of Faith’s page

Both articles quoted the same Bible verse which is from Matthew 18:8-9

Matthew 18:8-9
8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell

Let me first clarify that the Bible is not always read literally. Otherwise, according to Matthew 16:24, we would have to deny ourselves, literally take up a cross and follow Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus spoke in parables in the Bible, which should at least indicate to you that not everything is literal in the Bible.

Jesus in Mattthew 18:8-9, spoke metaphorically. When the phrases ‘cut it off’ and ‘gouge it out’ was used, Jesus was NOT referring to self-mutilation. What Jesus meant is that the root cause of the sin must be cut off and gotten rid off. Matthew 15:18-19 tells us that the root of the sin lies in the heart.

Matthew 15:18-19
18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual
immorality, theft, false testimony, slander

Does it now mean that we have to cut the heart out?! Obviously not. In order to cut off the root of the sin, one must change his/her attitude (e.g. the behaviour that causes the person to sin must stop). In conclusion, hudud is NOT in the Bible. The only reason people get such an idea is because they read the Bible out of context. Which is unacceptable! 

Are Christians True Followers Of Jesus?

This article is in response to the seminar at UiTM in which Indonesian lecturer Insan L. S. Mokoginta gave 10 reasons why Christians should be Muslims

He said that, “Christians are betraying God unless they convert to Islam” and that “Every Jesus follower should enter Islam, if not it would be a betrayal to Jesus” (hence, the title of the article). He made some pretty bold statements which shall be critiqued

When I Google searched his name, I found out he wrote a book entitled, “101 Bukti Yesus Bukan Tuhan” (101 Proofs Jesus Isnt God). That link leads to the very points he brought up in his book. An interesting read but pointless nonetheless. He uses the Quran as well as cherry picked Bible verses to amplify his point that Jesus is but a mere prophet

In my article “Jesus: The Son of God or God?”, I provided the ultimate rebuttal to his points based on the Bible. What I dont get is, how can one use the Quran and say it is proof Jesus was not God? Of course the Quran will say Jesus is not God because it advocates that Jesus is a prophet sent by Allah

If I were to use the Bible to dispel the claim that Muhammad is a messenger from God, I would succeed as no verse in the Bible talks about Muhammad, his birth, his coming, the revelations, etc. Just because the Quran believes Jesus is a prophet, this doesn’t make the Christian’s belief preposterous. The Muslims can believe what they want, but let the Christians believe what they want as well

Using the Quran and cherry picked Bible verses as proof Jesus that is not God is like using Brunei’s hudud laws to support a claim that a person who committed adultery (a.k.a zina) in Britain is guilty & should be stoned to death/flogged 100 times. This makes absolutely no sense! If I have the time, I so go through the 101 points and rebut them all!

“Citing passages from the Bible, Insan also listed 10 examples to support his argument, including a verse in the Book of Leviticus, from the Old Testament, which allegedly forbids the consumption of pork as pigs are
“unclean.” Again this issue has been addressed by yours truly in my article: “Is It Wrong For Christians To Eat Pork?”

Instead of going around claiming Christians are not true followers of Jesus, perhaps Insan L. S. Mokoginta should start reading my articles and other articles out there that have adequately addressed these recycled allegations.

“Islam is the only “true religion” acknowledged by Allah, he added.” This is quite a ridiculous statement to make. Of course Allah would say Islam is the only true religion. Just like the Bible says Jesus is the only way to heaven and how Buddhists believe in karma and reincarnation

Each religion has its own sets our belief. It is not right to say, “mine is right and yours is wrong because my holy book says I’m right.” It’s time to wake up from your delusional slumber Mr Insan L. S. Mokoginta!

The Right Way To React To Provocation

In Malaysia, provocation is unavoidable. Especially with the existence of racial & religious extremists groups. It seems as if every word from their mouth is aimed to provoke a backlash from those offended. Thankfully we have a few good examples of individuals & organisations that have rightly reacted to provocation

In 2009, the Selangor government wanted to relocate a Hindu temple from Shah Alam to Section 23. The protest was held in front of the Selangor state government headquarters at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Building, Shah Alam and the protesters desecrated a cow’s head . In case you didn’t know, cows are sacred to Hindus

The Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) reacted by organising a candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka

In 2010, churches and mosques were attacked in disapproval of the court decision that government regulations prohibiting non-muslim publications from using the word “Allah” was unconstitutional

Muslim NGOs patrolled the church areas in the Klang Valley in response to the attacks

“Parish Priest of Assumption church, PJ, Rev Father Philip Muthu urged the congregation to remain calm and pray for peace and harmony to prevail on Malaysians of all faiths.” Churches were burnt down yet Christians did not retaliate to the provocation

In January 2014, the Church of Assumption at Lebuh Farquhuar, Penang became the target of two molotov cocktails. “Christian leaders also urged their flock not to retaliate. The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) Chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng called on Christians to be wise and measured in their response to such acts”

“Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri, in condemning the incident
today, said that the churches in the country will remain calm, but vigilant”

On the 5th of January 2014, Malaysians of all religions rallied in solidarity with Catholics attending Sunday Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang

The right way to react to provocation is by keeping calm. Everyone knows you dont fight fire with fire. Gandhi once said “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Kudos to those who have reacted correctly!