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Dr Mahathir Series
Mahathir Says Islamic Laws Discriminating Against Women Need Review
BERNAMA Online
Thursday,
November 5, 2009


 
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad gestures during an interview at his office in Kuala Lumpur March 17, 2009.


Bernama report: “Laws Discriminating Women Should Be Studied - Dr M”


PUTRAJAYA, Nov 4 (Bernama) -- Laws which discriminate women should be studied, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday.


The former prime minister said that in a Muslim community, there were certain Islamic injunctions which needed to be studied -- whether they were truly Islamic or not -- which discriminated against women.


Fortunately, he said that in Malaysia, it was not so bad, unlike other Islamic countries.


“Freedom of Muslims in this country is far greater than other Islamic countries, and in some instances, non-Islamic countries,” he said, agreeing that laws which discriminated against women should be studied.


Dr Mahathir was replying to a question by a representative of Sisters in Islam who had asked whether laws which did not reflect the change of women`s role in society, where women were now partners instead of being dominated, should be changed.


He was speaking at the Perdana Leadership Foundation`s Tenth Perdana Discourse Series titled, `The Role of Women and Youth in National Development` here today.


While delivering his keynote address at the event, Dr Mahathir also noted a disturbing pattern where men were apparently more laidback and less serious about their professional lives and contribution to society, as a whole.


“There will be a shift of power and authority between the two genders. When you allow another person to do your work, you will become dependent on them, especially when they can do so much better.


“That`s what is happening (now), the men are no longer independent, they`re dependent.


“Of course, if we allow this to go on, the dependence of men will increase, independence of women will increase and eventually, they (women) will dominate society and the men will lose their position of authority,” he explained.


According to Dr Mahathir`s observations, this could, in time, lead to greater social disorder.


 (Description of Source: Kuala Lumpur BERNAMA Online in English -- Website Malaysia`s state-controlled news agency. Known for in-depth coverage of national and international political issues; URL: http://www.bernama.com)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Malaysia`s Mahathir: Administration by Muslims Must Be Guided by Islamic Values
BERNAMA Online
Monday,
October 26, 2009


Bernama report: “An Islamic administration must respect laws: Dr M”


An administration led by Muslims must be guided by Islamic values and be fair in all matters, free from corruption, respect laws and show concern for all communities, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


As such, he said, having a good administration when in power was important to ensure Islam grew well and non-Muslims did not keep away from Muslims.


“If we can do this, the benefits will be great, among them understanding of Islamic teachings will increase besides the people being more willing to listen to the administration,” he said at Perkim`s (Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation) 48th annual general meeting at a hotel here today.


Mahathir, who has been Perkim president since 2006, said when Islamic administrations were smeared with cruelty, power abuse, corruption, inefficiency, oppression of others and the like, others will have a negative perception of Islam.


“Today, there isn`t a single Islamic country that can be said to be a developed nation. And again there some who hold the view that progress of Islamic countries is not important.


“But we have witnessed the fate of many Islamic nations because of their backwardness. They are forced to beg, ask for help from others and as a result are often manipulated by their benefactors who might in reality be their enemies,” he said.


He said Islamic countries and Islam will only be respected if they were progressive, like in the Golden Age of Islam.


Mahathir said Perkim`s role in propagating Islam was also very clear in that before trying to bring Islam to the public, its members must be shining examples of the values and teachings of the religion.


“It is important for Muslims to be successful in all fields, social, economics, politics and others to attract attention, increase understanding and respect for Islam and not only that, also open the hearts of non-Muslims to get to know the religion and all the good it stands for,” he added.


(Description of Source: Kuala Lumpur BERNAMA Online in English -- Website Malaysia`s state-controlled news agency. Known for in-depth coverage of national and international political issues; URL: http://www.bernama.com)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Former PM Mahathir Says Religious Teachers `Betraying` Country
Malaysiakini
Tuesday,
February 26, 2008


Report by Fauwaz Adbul Aziz: “These religious teachers are traitors”


Many Islamic religious teachers are betraying the country, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


This is because while the nation`s youth are in dire need of acquiring knowledge as well as good `life values`, many students are taught only the ritualistic aspects of the religion and to be members of their teachers` political parties, he said.


Speaking at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur on the future of national education, Mahathir said such a tendency on the part of Islamic religious teachers borders on treachery.


“If they teach religion, they focus on things like prayers, fasting, zakat (religious tax), and other things, but noble life values that are demanded by Islam are not as stressed upon and imparted to their students,” he told an audience at the International Islamic University Malaysia. Wrong message to kids


“At times we are disappointed, because (religious) teachers make known their political stand and work towards ensuring that their students, when they grow up, support certain parties.


“This is something that is not good. I do not want to say this is treachery, but it is `dekat-dekat lah` (very close to it),” he added.


Although the former premier did not mention PAS, similar comments uttered in the past suggest he had the Islamic opposition primarily in mind.


In his last address as Umno president in June 2003 before he stepped down later that year, Mahathir told his party that PAS sympathisers teaching in public schools and community religious schools (SAR) were implanting the wrong things into children`s minds.


“We have seen that when this generation matures, they blindly believe this wrong interpretation of Islam,” he said in his speech.


“They do not know how to thank people and be grateful, love to falsely accuse other Muslims and to hear the fitnah (slander) by certain people and they make enemies of other Muslims,” he added.


(Description of Source: Petaling Jaya malaysiakini WWW-Text in English -- Internet-based pro-opposition news portal, owned by Mkini Dotcom. Offers independent news and views on Malaysia as an alternative to government-controlled media; URL: http://www.malaysiakini.com)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Malaysia`s Mahathir Comments on Status of Malays Who Want to Renounce Islam
M
alaysiakini
Thursday,
May 3, 2007


Report by Fauwaz Abdul Aziz: “Malays converting: Why not? says Dr M”


Malays seeking to renounce their religion must also be prepared to give up their special rights associated with the race, said former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


This is because the constitution determines Islam to be among the characteristics of being Malay, he explained.


“If he renounces Islam, then he is not a Malay. That`s all,” he said when asked if he agreed with allowing Malays to convert out of Islam.


“Why not? People would still be Malay, but officially, he would not be a Malay. Being a Malay in this country has certain privileges, so he wouldn`t enjoy those privileges.


“If you are prepared to give up Islam, you must also be prepared to give up (the rights associated with) the definition of a Malay. You must say that `I am not a Malay,`” he added.


Mahathir said this during a recent interview with Malaysiakini at his Perdana Leadership Foundation office in Putrajaya.


The Federal Constitution determines that a Malay is one who speaks the Malay language, practices Malay customs and follows the religion of Islam.


As state Syariah laws oblige non-Muslims to convert before marrying Muslims, Islamic departments have long accommodated such converts seeking an exit out of the religion upon the breakdown of their marriages.


However, the Syariah courts have predominantly ruled against attempts by Malays seeking a formal recognition of their apostasy from Islam.


This is partly because of concerns that doing so would `unravel` the fabric of the religio-cultural definition of being Malay.


“When we see a Malay, we see a Muslim. That is what is in the constitution. So when we allow all these things, we are finished. Malaysia is finished,” said Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria in a recent special programme by Al Jazeera on the apostasy issue. It was to stave off attempts to obtain an over-ruling by the civil courts on such Syariah court decisions that the Article 121 (1A) amendment was introduced in 1988. Civil and Syariah courts have since enjoyed separate jurisdictions.


Among the cases that have gripped civil society is that of Lina Joy, a Malay who converted to Christianity. Her appeals for legal recognition of her conversion presently awaits the decision of the Federal Court.


Separate fact from fiction


Mahathir - under whose administration the constitutional amendment was introduced - denied the need to redefine constitutional provisions to recognise Malay conversions out of Islam.


“At the moment, we`ve got no reason to change the definition of a Malay,” he said.


Apart from Malaysia there was at least one other country - Maldives - where ethnicity is tied up with religion, he added.


Addressing the fear that opening the doors to apostasy in Malaysia would unravel the Malay demographics, constitutional expert Shad S Faruqi noted in a two-part article in The Star that it had significant legal, political, social and economic consequences.


“A Muslim apostate will lose his Malay status. His marriage will be dissolved. Painful questions of custody and guardianship and of Malay privileges will arise,” said Shad.


However, he said conversion out of Islam does not mean an “automatic desertion of the Malay community.” “Our first task should be to separate fact from fiction,” he added.


Below is an excerpt of the Mahathir interview: Malaysiakini: The Federal Constitution says that the definition of Malay is that you have to be Muslim, and allowing for Malays to covert out of Islam would unravel the whole thing. What`s your point of view on this? Mahathir:


The thing is, if you are not a Muslim, then you are not a Malay. That`s all. That`s what the constitution says. And that is what some Malays are worried about.


If you are prepared to give up Islam, you must also be prepared to give up (the rights associated with) the definition of a Malay. You must say that `I am not a Malay.` Would you agree to that?


Why not? People would still be Malay, but officially, he would not be a Malay. Being a Malay in this country has certain privileges, so he wouldn`t enjoy those privileges. You`ve got no problem with the definition of the Malay?


At the moment, we`ve got no reason to change the definition of a Malay. There are only two countries in the world where the race is linked to the religion. You`ve go no problem if a Malay actually renounces Islam?


If he renounces Islam, then he is not a Malay. That`s all.


The other country is Maldives. In Maldives, you must be a Muslim to be a Maldivian.


(Description of Source: Petaling Jaya malaysiakini WWW-Text in English -- Internet-based pro-opposition news portal, owned by Mkini Dotcom. Offers independent news and views on Malaysia as an alternative to government-controlled media; URL: http://www.malaysiakini.com)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Mahathir Receives Libyan Award, Says Muslims Do Not Belong to One Community
Bernama
Friday,
December 2, 2005


Report from Rosyatimah Tukimin: “Muslims Do Not Belong To One Community”


TRIPOLI, Dec 1 (Bernama) -- Muslims do not belong to one community although they may want to think so, hence they have never been able to act together to defend the ummah, former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said here Wednesday.


“We often talk of the ummah (community) as if we belong to one Muslim community but the reality is that we don`t. We identify ourselves as members of different sects of Islam, as Sunnis, Shiahs, or Wahabies,” he told an audience of about 1000 people, mostly Islamic scholars, who had attended the Fourth International Conference on Popular Islamic Leadership here, as well as foreign diplomats.


Dr Mahathir, who spoke after receiving the Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, said that the differences among the Muslims with regard to their interpretations of Islam and their tendency to uphold only the states that they belong to, had resulted in the killing of fellow Muslims.


“Today, the ummah exists in name only. As our loyalty is with our nation states, we are ready to fight and kill each other. We are even ready to ally ourselves with the unbelievers in our wars against each other. I think that more Muslims are killed by Muslims than are killed by the unbelievers,” he said.


Dr Mahathir noted that all the Muslim nations were weak, unstable and unable to develop as they disregarded studies other than of the religion of Islam.


“No religion places more importance on knowledge and skills than our religion. The first message received by Prophet Muhammad was to read. But today, we are still not obeying the first injunction of Islam -- to read and acquire knowledge. We do not even know how to extract the wealth that Allah has endowed us with. Instead we merely sit and enjoy the wealth that others produce for us,” he said.


His hard-hitting statement seemed to surprise many in the hall. Some sleepy audience quickly turned their heads to attentively listen to Dr Mahathir, who was delivering his speech of appreciation.


Those who stood around the packed hall that could only accommodate 800 people also patiently waited for the former prime minister to end his speech, joining others in applauding the interesting points raised. Dr Mahathir, dubbed “the Muslim Thinker” by some of the Arab nations, urged Muslims to constantly use their brains so that more knowledge could be stored and the sharpness of the brains would improve.


However, he said, many Muslims made no effort towards it, hence the brain would not have the capacity to think, to reason and to solve problems.


“That we are incapable of thinking, of managing, of solving our own problem is shown by the way we are handling our present predicament. Faced with attacks against us, we go for short-term retaliation. We cannot think about plans and strategies to defend the ummah because our brains have not been used for that.


“We don`t plan for ultimate victory, for a long-term solution. We merely seek revenge. Our revenge against our oppressors and invaders had yielded us nothing. It has only damaged the image of Islam and the Muslims. The oppression and the humiliation go on and get worse with the passage of time,” he said.


Dr Mahathir said the Muslims needed to plan for ultimate success by building up their strength and capacity so as to instil respect and fear in their detractors and avoid further bullying, attacks and humiliation.


“It will take a long time but think of the struggle of the Prophet. He suffered defeat, stoned by his detractors, was threatened and had to flee Mecca and endure great hardships. But slowly he won over his enemies, gained their support and their conversion to Islam.


“Alhamdulillah, because of his determination and dedication to Islam, his struggle resulted in Islam being spread from Spain in the West to China and Southeast Asia in the East.


“If he could struggle for 23 long years, who are we to wish for victory overnight. Being ordinary people, the ummah must be prepared to struggle much longer, to patiently plan a good strategy and make necessary preparations to regain the status, if not the glory of the Great Muslim Civilisation,” he said.


Dr Mahathir said that with Allah`s guidance and the Muslims` sincere and sustained efforts, they would find the way to change their fate.


“In Malaysia, we have a slogan, “Malaysia Boleh” (Malaysia Can). We believe that we can do what others can do. But if we don`t do anything, there is no way we can succeed,` he added. Dr Mahathir arrived here Tuesday evening. Besides receiving the award, he attended the final session of the Fourth General Congress of the International Islamic Peoples Leadership and a business meeting and is scheduled to launch a road project by a joint Libyan-Malaysian company on Thursday before flying to Japan.


(Description of Source: Kuala Lumpur Bernama in English -- State-controlled news agency)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Former Malaysian PM Mahathir`s Daughter Discusses Social Issues in Kelantan
Malaysiakini
Wednesday,
August 22, 2007


Report by Karen Yap Lih Huey: “Marina: In Islam, the condom is not banned”


In an environment where religion pervades every aspect of society, Kelantan, the northern-most state in Peninsular Malaysia - and the only state that has been ruled by an Islamic party for over 20 years - is facing acute challenges ranging from condom usage, polygamy, remarriage and high drug-usage.


Marina Mahathir, president of the Malaysian Aids Foundation, released a study on HIV-positive widows in Kelantan during the 8th International Congress on Aids in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), currently taking place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Here she talks to Inter Press Service Asia-Pacific`s Karen Yap Lih Huey about what could be done in such delicate environment without unsettling religious norms. Tell me more about polygamy in Kelantan and how it affects HIV and Aids initiatives there. Also, in your presentation you mentioned that Kelantan is becoming an area containing high-risk groups.


There is a lot of drug usage among both men and women in Kelantan. A lot of these women got infected from their husbands who were injecting drug users. So, the link between drug usage and infection is very clear.


As Kelantan custom supports remarriage by both men and women, many widowed HIV-positive women may look to marriage in order to ensure their own economic survival. Many of these will be polygamous marriages, which are sanctioned by the state and society. This poses risks to co-wives in the same arrangements.


In 2006, Kelantan also instituted mandatory premarital testing for Muslim couples. This may pose problems for those HIV-positive women intending marriage, even though normally HIV-positive people are not prevented from marrying. Issues of stigmatisation and loss of potential economic support may arise.


In 2000, the fertility rate in Kelantan was the highest compared to other states in Malaysia and on average, most families in Kelantan have five children. This high fertility rate could have a direct impact on vertical transmission from mother to child.


From the study, this is what we know: A lot of these women are HIV-positive widows. They don`t have any means of earning money. They are young, they are well and many of them look to men for support. So, they need to get married. On top of that, there is no stigma of women getting married many times. The stigma is on women who are single or divorced or widowed. The women in Kelantan do marry many times and it`s common. Therefore, they can do it if they wanted to.


But what we found didn`t really support it because in our study, only six women remarried. The others were just too engrossed with their problems of being HIV-positive and how to fight it. Remarriage didn`t figure very highly.


However, it`s interesting to note that they marry very poor men, not well-off men, partly because the social circle they are in is not very big hence their choices of spouses are minimal. In a way, they didn`t prove our assumption. Having said that, we think there is an issue among these women. They don`t have much in the way of support while the support from family is little. About the high drug usage in Kelantan, is it because of the drug trade route that runs into Kelantan from neighbouring Thailand?


No. It`s not because of the drug trade. Drug usage is all over and it`s easy to obtain drugs anywhere. In Terengganu, the fisherman takes it. In the social context of Kelantan, the people are very poor. There are not much job opportunities there. And what can these people do to kill the boredom? They take drugs.


It`s easily available and very common in the villages. It`s not a matter of being in the trafficking route. It`s a matter of availability. In Kelantan, people are conservative. How do you tell these people to use condoms?


In Islam, condom is not banned. You just have to tell the men to use. The women (in the study) didn`t think the condoms are religiously wrong. But the men usually think it is. It`s actually a manifestation of their own reluctance - and it`s easy for them to cult it in religious terms.


So, there is room to manoeuvre there. Unlike Christianity, where the rules are clear, in Islam, they not clear. The problem is to get the right authority to say so - at least within the context of marriage. It`s something that is not happening here yet. How sure are you that the Muslims in Kelantan would be able to accept this and get it off the ground?


Surely, you need political will or leadership. Of course, I mean it takes a lot of work, but it can be done. We have to train the religious leaders. Once you talk to them and educate them, they can change. We can take examples from elsewhere.


The Majlis Fatwa in Indonesia said that with married couples, it`s all right to use condoms. It can be done. We are not talking about extramarital sex or affairs. So, it`s perfectly legal but the point is to get the right people to say it, using the right religious context, and getting the social and psychological support. It can be done. I`m quite hopeful of that. How do you see Kelantan`s future?


I don`t have to extrapolate too much from this study - it`s interesting because of the numbers and what it yields. It`s also because of the Kelantan context - the cultural context.


Having said that, I feel it`s important to take this study further. We don`t have a study on women with HIV and Aids in Malaysia. Anyone who wants to add it, please be my guest. Once we are back in Malaysia, I think we will publish this study and get someone to respond to it.


The most alarming thing about the study is the low level of knowledge on HIV in Kelantan. They don`t know anything about HIV. It`s as simple as that. And yet, the government in Kelantan is testing people and these people don`t understand why.


They think it`s just a routine or another step before getting married. They just do it. There`s an opportunity lost there. The study is a good start and hopefully we`ll get someone to expand on it.


Just to say that it`s Kota Baru, who knows what it`s like in other cities or towns where there is no way of knowing or reaching them.


(In the Kelantan study, a total of 56 HIV-positive women were recruited and both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. In Kota Baru, Kelantan, the number of HIV-positive widows has been increasing at an alarming rate. In a religious and cultural environment where polygamy is acceptable, there is uncertainty about how women with HIV manage risk and their ability to prevent HIV transmission to their partners.)


(Description of Source: Petaling Jaya malaysiakini WWW-Text in English -- Internet-based pro-opposition news portal, owned by Mkini Dotcom. Offers independent news and views on Malaysia as an alternative to government-controlled media; URL: http://www.malaysiakini.com)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


 



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