UNLIKE Putrajaya, the Sultan of Johor has taken the decisive step of banning two Muslim preachers, Ismail Menk and Ustaz Haslin Baharim, from preaching in the state following Singapore’s move to bar both from entering the city state.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar’s reasons are simple, both preachers can undo and undermine the country’s race and religious relations and balance.
Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim informed the media of Sultan Ibrahim’s decree today, saying, “The contents of their ceramah can be seen as causing unease in race relations.”
“The Johor religious department will continue to monitor the ceramah preached in the state to ensure that elements or views promoting discord among the races are not preached,” Berita Harian quoted Abd Mutalip as saying.
That royal view is apparently not shared by Putrajaya as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday said he had no issues with their preaching despite the Singapore ban.
Menk is Zimbabwean while Haslin is a Malaysian. Both were due to preach in an Islamic-themed sea cruise from Singapore later this month.
All state rulers in Malaysia are head of the Islamic religion for their respective states, making them having the final say in any religious issues. The throne also symbolises unity for all subjects of the ruler.
Perhaps it is the sense of duty and fairness to all that makes the Johor ruler conscious of the kind of discord that can be caused by preachers who spew hate rather than inter-faith harmony.
By right, it is the government of the day that should watch out for hate speech and preaching that can divide Malaysia racially and religiously. Not just the rulers.
And ignoring such peril risks possible mayhem in the country
As it is, there are enough terror cases around the world, the latest one in New York earlier today, that are inspired by those who preach hate and sow terror from the pulpit or through online videos.
The Sultan of Johor recognises this as much as Singapore believes such talk is bad for any country with a multiracial and multireligious population.
It is time the Najib government realise this too and act accordingly to prevent disunity caused by those who preach hate.
Johor is fortunate it has a proactive constitutional ruler who’s looking out for his subjects.
The rest of Malaysia should be equally fortunate if possible, with a government that’s equally pro-active like the Johor Sultan.
Otherwise, Malaysia is just encouraging people who seek to divide us and shatter our peace and harmony.