By Danial Ariff Shaari
A new evangelical church opened not long ago in Long Jenalong, Miri. The Borneo Evangelical Mission building cost RM80,000 to construct through a gotong-royong effort and with funding assistance from Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas.
Churches in the area have been receiving financial aid from the BN government, said Telang Usan Adun Dennis Ngau when he officiated its opening two months ago.
The state assemblyman additionally handed over a RM10,000 rural project grant to the evangelical congregation in conjuction with the launch (pix below).
You do not hear Muslims objecting to our tax money being used help Christian worshippers, as at the event above.
Yet there are ex-evangelists such as Boo Su-Lyn who is proposing that mosques should only be build with Muslims’ “own money” contributed by the respective qariah.
Well, the liberal media’s foremost drama queen sure does complain a lot.
Since Ms Boo feels it is within her rights to demand that her income tax is not spent on Muslim bodies, can I too – in an identical vein – reject that any portion of my tax money be allocated to help Chinese schools?
As a taxpayer, I don’t want to fund religious bodies https://t.co/69adRlAvRW
— Miss Boo (@boosulyn) August 4, 2017
Ms Boo refuses to fund Islamic activities
Provocative Malay Mail Online assistant news editor Boo Su-Lyn is most recently demanding that our tax expenditure be compartmentalized with Muslim vs non-Muslim spending slotted in different boxes.
In her Aug 4 MMO column, Boo insisted that not only should the syariah legal system be “solely funded by the community” but Muslims might extend separate contributions to the religious departments for khalwat raids and Ramadan puasa enforcement as well as for the administration of charitable works.
What Boo is proposing is that zakat should only go towards helping the poor whereas field operations carried out by Jakim, Jais, etc must now be voluntarily financed by Muslims (those who support this kind of morality policing) as a separate contribution coming from their own pocket.
Those who do not support khalwat surveillance are presumably excused from paying for its operations. And if these liberal Muslims are themselves ever caught for khalwat, they can in turn argue that that such khalwat monitoring is an ‘illegal’ exercise since it is not sanctioned through approved state funding.
What a clever way to divide the Muslim community!
Boo’s further insistence is for the state religious apparatus such as Syariah Court (and pejabat kadi, mufti, majlis fatwa, etc) to be funded separately by Muslims alone.
In short, she objects to her hard-earned Chinese taxpayer money being diverted towards maintaining the vast Islamic bureaucracy.
Nonetheless, it appears that Boo is willing for the jurisdiction and legal democratic right of the states to govern its individual Islamic affairs (under the purview of the Ninth Schedule, State List II) to be surrendered to the particular set of Muslims ‘yea’-sayers who do indeed support such enforcement.
It is divisive, and not to mention an anarchic idea to allow the subcontracting of control over Islamic enforcement to optionally funded entities – as apparently suggested by Boo – without the benefit of state oversight.
⇓ Boo Su-Lyn is way too loud ever to be “silenced”
Tax refuseniks − the new ‘resistance’ fighters
I’m simply going to ask Ms Boo this: If you don’t want to fund our religious authorities, then what other choice do you have other than to stop paying tax altogether?
While other Malaysians just pay up – regardless of where the money goes whether to religious or non-religious recipients – without kicking up a great fuss accompanied by endless whining, are you not ashamed of taking such tremendous credit for your (how much, eh?) tax contribution.
Ordinary taxpayers do their share for the betterment of our country as a whole. But you and your ultrakiasu ilk prefer to be calculative to the last sen.
Are you Ms Boo, in future, going to insist that your income tax cannot be used to fund a government you do not approve of? If the Najib-led BN wins the coming general election, are you going to stop paying your income tax?
Or what if Pakatan Harapan wins GE14? Will you equally demand that the DAP-led government-in-waiting do the same and detach religion from the state?
But please don’t forget that the DAP evangelical poster boys and girls are mosque-occupying, tudung-wearing and Quran-quoting politicians vying to display an even more ‘Islamic’ public appearance than PAS.
Legal position laid out in Article 12(2)
The Islamic religious authorities that Ms Boo says she refuses to fund are however actually in line with the provisions of the federal constitution.
Boo is not wrong to highlight Article 11(2) that states: “No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own”.
But she must nonetheless refer simultaneously to Article 12(2). It’s the constitutional provision that specifies:
“[…] it shall be lawful for the Federation or a State to establish or maintain or assist in establishing or maintaining Islamic institutions or provide or assist in providing instruction in the religion of Islam and incur such expenditure as may be necessary for the purpose”.
In layman’s terms, there is no problem – and perfectly constitutional – for the government to fund the religion of Islam.
Our law expressly allows and enables institutions of Islam to use government money (including Boo Su-Lyn’s tax contribution). Tax collection belongs to the government and it is not for the likes of Ms Boo and her cohorts to dictate how it is to be spent.
As such, I would suggest that Boo instead train her gunsight on her preferred opposition coalition, and first compel Harapan to separate ‘church’ from the state(s) where they rule.
Ms Boo needs to heed Uncle Thaya’s advice
In his column today, Malaysiakini’s S. Thayaparan wrote that the key to diluting our race and religion obsession is “separating Islam from politics”.
Uncle Thaya believes that “state promulgated Islam” must be eroded from the public sphere while “other ideas that inspire, cultivate and nurture a cohesive society with majoritarian values that reflect a willingness to embrace instead of reject” need to be ventilated.
He pointed out how the current Harapan game plan is to embrace “the racial and religious politics of the (right wing) Malay majority in order to supplant Barisan National”.
Uncle Thaya went on to warn that “ultimately what will change this country is … a revolution in the streets brought upon by economic and religious mismanagement”.
The secularist Boo Su-Lyn ostensibly wants to see the state separated from religion.
Is the self-professed ‘secular’ DAP in any way diminishing religious influence − starting in Penang and Selangor where they jointly hold a very (strong more than two-thirds majority) in the state assembly? The answer is ‘no’.
On the other hand, it is DAP that is introducing what is arguably the country’s first “syariah-compliant hospital”.
Is the DAP willing to edge out Islam from the public sphere? The answer is ‘no’. It is DAP leaders who are invading Pasar Ramadan to distribute their tiny packets of dates to bazaar goers.
DAP is organizing more religious functions, more inter-faith meetings and investing in more Muslim religious costuming, i.e. their evangelical leaders playact.
Boo Su-Lyn’s secret agenda (desiring to split Muslims into disparate adherents of various state-funded vs voluntarily funded Islamic administrations) is aligned with the DAP’s divide-and-rule political strategem.
Otherwise, if Ms Boo genuinely wants to see Islamic religious authorities decoupled from state funding, she should direct her next article to the DAP government-in-waiting as she cannot expect Umno to be sympathetic.
Rather than pointlessly wringing her hands and clutching her hair, she must pin down the alternative power (DAP) to a commitment that the Islamic bureaucracy will be defunded.
Does the DAP dare say that it will withdraw state funding from Islamic institutions once it assumes federal power?
Danial Ariff Shaari is an Isma activist trained in law