Would a cesspool by any other name smell just as pungent?

Cesspool failures

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and in-grafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

Thomas Jefferson

Islam in Malaysia has oftentimes been equated to be like Hotel California, based on that one line in Eagles’ most overplayed song – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. And it’s worse if you were born in Hotel California.

There currently is one court case where an individual who was born into a Muslim family is trying to leave the religion, and said individual is currently seeking permission to have her judicial review heard in the civil court system, as reported in The Malay Mail this week.

You can read the background of the case, summarized quite comprehensively in that report. The applicant had already gone through all kinds of hoops and legal hoopla, as is the case with the Shariah Court system in cases such as this, only to have her application to leave Islam rejected by the Shariah Court of Appeal.

If you’ve read lawyer Fahri Azzat’s piece some months back, you’ll know that this is not surprising at all. Not by a single iota.

But what’s interesting is part of the court’s reasoning why the applicant’s request was rejected (emphasis by Walski):

Shariah High Court had — in rejecting A’s bid to be known as no longer a Muslim — ruled that the right to freedom of religion in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution is not applicable to Muslims.

The Malay Mail, Wednesday, 27 April 2020

A few perplexing things are happening here. One, does the Shariah High Court even have the right to rule on constitutional matters in the first place? Ask most lawyers, and the answer you’ll get in most instances is NO. But never mind that for the moment.

Let’s digress for a sec so we can do a quick recap of exactly how Article 11(1) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution is worded: Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

Every person – so, if EVERY PERSON has freedom of religion as a basic right, but this basic right is not applicable to Muslims, does that mean that in Malaysia Muslims are not even regarded as proper “persons”? If the answer is YES, then that goes a long way to explain the prevalence of herd mentality among many Malay/Muslims…

But all kidding aside, by making the ruling, the Shariah High Court has pretty much declared Malaysia to be a RELIGIOUS APARTHEID. At least that’s how Walski sees it.

Many a rational person would have to wonder: what’s the big deal if everyone – every person, to be specific – could exercise the fundamental right accorded by Article 11(1)?

Try to even broach this question, and the earth will undoubtedly start to shudder with the collective wrath of the “faithful”; HOW CAN YOU EVEN ASK SUCH A QUESTION!!! DOOMSDAY WILL COME IF THAT HAPPENS! THE EARTH WILL OPEN UP AND SWALLOW THE TWIN TOWERS, KL TOWER, AND MENARA 118!!!

Persist with the question, and you’ll probably find a gazillion police reports filed against you for the crime of intelligent enquiry…

But that’s the reality of this cesspool we’ve become. The entrenched status quo must never be questioned, even if the questions are reasonable ones. And why we’ve become the cesspool we are today has a lot to do with that quote by Thomas Jefferson.

And the root cause: political expediency; of trying to out-Islam the Islamists. Fast forward three decades plus change, the entire nation is the worse for it. We’ve become a religious apartheid, and as these things go, once Stockholm Syndrome sets in any attempt at change and rectification will be messy. And Malaysia doesn’t possess the political will to clean up anything that’s messy.

Regardless, the court challenge Walski mentioned above will be an interesting one to follow. Essentially, submissions to challenge have been made, and a decision on whether the challenge may be heard will be known come June 15. Well and good if leave is given, but if it is rejected then another round of questions will emerge. Either way, let’s hope the legal arguments presented are sound ones.

It is fortunate that the plaintiff’s legal team, the prosecution, and the court have unanimously agreed that withholding the applicants identity (the Islamists won’t be pleased, but screw ’em) is in the best interest of everyone involved. Because what will undoubtedly happen is harassment by the “faithful”, and maybe even threats to her life.

In the meantime, there is a sense of calm in this cesspool. For now, at least. Let’s just hope that calm isn’t the kind that precedes a ferocious shitstorm…

Thought Experiment #58

Sourced from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115897390384173691/

Death smells like birthday cake.

Maggie Stiefvater

Just over a week ago – Friday, April 15, to be precise – something happened. For the first time in his life, Walski got to experience what being 58 years old was like. Strangely enough, it felt exactly like being 57.

There was no fanfare, no ticker tape parade… just another Friday in an increasingly decrepit Malaysia suffering the ravages of a pandemic without a known cure: performative piety. The more outwardly moral we pretend to be, and in the process force everyone to adhere, the worse off we seem to become.

As Walski once upon a time said, “In Malaysia, Islam is more than just a way of life, it’s an institution; and the last thing Walski wants is to live in an institution” (with apologies to Groucho Marx).

But, enough about this hellhole called Malaysia that’s becoming more of Hell as we get Hole-ier… the country’s getting uglier with every holier-than-thou asshole getting his 15 minutes (and it’s almost invariably a he).

So what’s this about a thought experiment?

In a wave of depression and feeling less than worthy, about two years ago, Walski thought up an experiment to prove once and for all just how forgettable a person he really is. The experiment he devised was simple:

  • Turn off the visibility to Walski’s birthday on Facebook (he forgot to do this for LinkedIn, so maybe next year)
  • Disallow anyone to post anything to his personal page on Facebook (Messaging remained allowed)
  • Sit back, and enjoy the depressive melancholy as more and more people Walski thought he knew be oblivious to to him celebrating another trip around Sol.

Did anyone remember? Well, only close family members (the Mrs, parent, an uncle, a cousin, his sibs, a niece, etc.), and two friends; one in Brazil and another in Pakistan. Okay, to be fair, a handful of people did wish him happy birthday on LinkedIn, but only because Walski forgot to turn it off there. Plus there was Walski’s WhatsApp group of old school friends, but only because they completely forgot last year until the following day.

And what did this thought experiment prove? Two things:

  1. We have become too reliant on technology to remind us of important dates. Not that Walski or his birthday are important to any degree… but you get the drift
  2. Walski’s existence doesn’t really matter. He could keel over dead tomorrow and most people wouldn’t even notice it. But in reality, that’s how much importance an ordinary Joe like yours truly really has in this world, big-picture speaking.

Truth be told, Walski does use calendar and scheduling apps to remind him to do stuff, too. And it would be safe to say he’d lose track if it weren’t for these apps, both online or on-phone. A long time and in another lifetime we’d have used a diary, but that era is long behind us.

More importantly, Walski is now convinced how inconsequential he is in the bigger, medium sized, and small scale of things. Maybe come Thought Experiment #59 he’ll disappear altogether. The world will probably not even notice… and who knows, the world might even be better for it.

Have a good life, and see you in the next post… whenever that might be.