Malaysia is the only country on planet Earth which has not one, not two but a jaw-dropping nine (9) monarchies. And if you care to add the “Yang di-Pertuan Agong” or simply the King, who is elected every 5 years among themselves, there are actually ten (10) monarchies in a country with population of only 32-million. That’s a ratio of 1 monarchy to 3.2-million folks.
Surely that’s an unbelievable number of King, Sultans, Raja and Yamtuan Besar for a small country like Malaysia, in comparison to 26 “real” monarchies in the world. Hilariously, despite having 10 monarchies – all of them Muslims – Malaysia is the only nation where the majority – also the Muslims – are foaming at the mouth crying, whining and bitching to be protected.
When the minorities should be the one to be protected, the reverse is true in Malaysia. This is perhaps the only country in the world where the minority non-Muslims are suppressed, oppressed, bullied and discriminated – both racially and religiously – so that the majority-Muslims could be pacified and satisfied in order to prevent them from “running amok” – a peculiar disease indeed.
From the powerful Prime Minister Najib Razak to the influential King, Sultans, Raja and Yamtuan Besar, nobody seems to care, or at least pretend to care,about the minorities. The minority ethnic-Chinese were a jolly good source of taxes as well as a punching bag whenever a need arises, whereas the minority ethnic-Indian were treated like a pariah during ordinary days and scammed for votes during election days.
Enter the Sultanate of Johor, who appears to be the only saviour of the minorities. Not everyone likes him but like it or not, Sultan Ibrahim is the only monarch who will voice his displeasure over discrimination, oppression, suppression and even extremism displayed by his own fellow Muslims. From kicking the arse of a corrupt PM Najib Razak to blasting an extremist launderette owner – he has done it all.
Unlike other Sultans who are supposed to protect the minorities but didn’t, the Sultan of Johor seems to be the only monarch who has his ears on the ground when he echoed the following – “I cannot accept this nonsense. This is Johor, which belongs to Bangsa Johor and it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state.”
He was, of course, referring to the controversial launderette owner located in Taman Seri Cempaka, Muar, Johor, whose stunt of putting a sign saying that only Muslims were allowed to use its self-service washing machines had gone viral. Although the owner could do whatever he wanted as the business owner, apparently Sultan Ibrahim wasn’t amused.
Sultan Ibrahim said he and his family members were “deeply appalled” by the action of the launderette owner, saying if this was not stopped, it would lead to more narrow-minded actions in the name of Islam. He was equally disgusted with the launderette owner, obviously a Muslim, who sneakily replaced an initial “Muslim-only” notice with “Muslim-friendly” when the drama took a turn for the worse.
The sultan said – “Don’t try to be clever. It’s still the same. The owner needs to have his brains cleaned up. I want to put a stop to such extremism. Extremism has no place in my state. We take pride in being Bangsa Johor and I want to know where the owner of this launderette learns his Islam? Islam teaches the faithful to be tolerant and respect other people and faiths.”
“This is not a Taliban state and as the Head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature … If he still insists on carrying on the Muslim-only practice, he can leave Johor. I suggest he set up shop in Afghanistan. His thinking is sick and goes against everything that Johor stands for.” – Sultan Ibrahim mocked the owner.
The Sultan of Johor continued his explosive lecture – “I wonder where this launderette owner washes his clothes when he is overseas? Is he saying only the clothes of Muslims are clean and those of non-Muslims are unclean?That’s what he means, I believe.” Clearly, the sultan knew what he was talking about and has been listening to the people on the street.
Malaysian liberals – both minorities and certain Malay-Muslims – have been whispering, mocking and joking on social media about “Talibanization” and extremism in Malaysia. As the highly unpopular Mr. Najib is fast losing influence due to corruption and skyrocketing cost of living, the regime has given its blessing to extremism where Muslims radicalization shoots through the roof.
Terribly upset and furious that extremism exists in his kingdom, Sultan Ibrahim gave his orders – “I want the owner to apologise to me and the people of Johor. He has made Johoreans very angry and embarrassed because this is not the Johor we want. The owner has gone against the vision of a united, harmonious, moderate and tolerant Johor.”
After Sultan Ibrahim’s outburst was widely reported in social media, the owner of the controversial “Muslim-only” launderette, probably surprised and terrified, has since apologized for his actions and has obediently remove a signboard limiting its services to those of the faith. “I regret the issue and I will obey His Majesty’s command,” said the owner.
The simple fact that the 40-year-old launderette owner has now apologized and taken down the notice proves that the initial justification of preserving the cleanliness of Muslims is nothing but a truckload of bullshit. If indeed it’s true that it was done to help Muslims fulfil religious obligations, as agreed by even Johor Mufti Mohd Tahrir Samsudin, why suddenly the obligation doesn’t matter anymore?
What does Mr. Tahrir Samsudin has to say after being lectured by Sultan Ibrahim? If everything was done in accordance to Islam, should not Johor Mufti Mohd Tahrir Samsudin and Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee Chairman Abdul Mutalip Abdul Rahim, supposingly more knowledgeable and holier than any people, lecture the sultan instead?
This isn’t the only example of extremism in Malaysia. The most recent was the banning of annual beer festival, despite the fact that Muslims in the country were not even invited to the party. Early of the year, McDonald’s fans were shocked when they were slapped with a notice requiring birthday cakes to be “halal (permissible)”.
There was also the grand launching of the country’s first halal airline – Rayani Air – only to go kaput, just 110 days into operation. Of course, Auntie Anne’s was forced to change the name of their product “pretzel dog” to “pretzel sausage”. And who can forget the Jihad (Holy War) declaration on Cadburyover pork-laced chocolate, which turned out to be a false allegation.
The Sultanate Johor’s criticism against Najib and the spread of Islamic radicalization under his watch isn’t new. Five months ago in April, the Johor Queen – Raja Zarith Sofiah – called for more kindness and respect to non-Muslim Malaysians. She said – “Muslims in Malaysia are so very lucky because they do not know what it’s like to be part of a minority group.”
At the peak of Najib’s racism policy where he outsourced demonstration to “Red Shirt” movement, the same Sultan Ibrahim of Johor was so disturbed and disgusted by the level of racism shown that he had told Johoreans who participated in a rally based on racism and religious extremism against the Chinese to get out of his Kingdom of Johor.
Similar to his father, Crown Prince Tunku Ismail of the Sultanate of Johor isn’t impressed with Najib administration too. He was popular for his infamous insult against Najib son of Razak who was tainted with 1MDB scandal – comparing the prime minister as “a drowning man will try to reach and hold on to anything, including ‘faeces’.”
Tunku Idris Sultan Ibrahim, another prince of Sultan Ibrahim, famously posted an Instagram suggesting a possible secession or Independence of the southern state from Malaysia. The minorities, especially the Johoreans, are the envy of other Malaysians for having a monarch such as the present Sultanate of Johor. Still, it’s shameful that only 10% of the 10 monarchies performing their duties.