Hijacking Hari Raya.

As Sim Kwang Yang writes in his affectionate and nostalgic article for Malaysiakini, “Aidilfitri – a time for forgiveness, reconciliation”, this is “a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies personal triumph, and a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal.”

But if all this is truly the case for honest, sincere and virtuous Muslims, purification and renewal are the last things on the minds of many of their vicious ruling regimes.

Hari Raya or no Hari Raya, Syria’s al-Assad gang continues its torture and killing of its people who have been rallying against if for months after every Friday prayers.

Libya’s Gaddafi and his goons, despite having been forced into hiding in their bunkers or, as some rumours suggest, into flight to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, keep insisting that the people still love and support them.

And Malaysia’s Umno/BN regime, far from exhibiting the slightest sign of the self-restraint, abstinence, purification and renewal appropriate to this festive season, is, as always, busy defiling the very idea of Islam, let alone its ideals, in every possible fashion.

Currently its most profane campaign is the concerted attempt through fabricated ‘news’ stories in the ‘mainstream’ media, including RTM1, TV3, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and Sinar Harian, of attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.

This long-running attempt to position Umno/BN as defender of Islam against infidel attack is an outrageous travesty of reality, considering the regime’s utterly un-Islamic addiction to corruption, theft, injustice, electoral fraud and every other conceivable kind of criminality.

Despite the fact that at least two of BN’s self-styled defenders of Islam, Najib Razak and Hishammuddin Hussein, both attended Christian schools in their youth, they and their partners in crime would be an absolute disgrace to any religion, with the possible exception of devil-worship or voodoo.

But they cunningly delegate the worst of the devilry to underlings like the poisonous penmen of the mainstream press, the parrots of the regime-dominated air media, and race- and religious hate-groups like Perkasa.

Plus, of course, to professional haters like former PM, Mohamad Mahathir, perennial ‘defender’ of Muslims and Malays against every possible ‘threat’ that he can invent in his paranoid fantasies, from non-Muslims to Zionists.

His pre-Hari Raya message has been a typical diatribe against certain ‘leaders’, like Abdullah Badawi and to a lesser extent Najib Razak, that he blames for perverting the Umno/BN system.

Anything to distract the attention of the ignorant from the fact that he was the greatest-ever facilitator of the corruption, nepotism, lawlessness, injustice, racism, religionism and other cancers with which Umno/BN’s Malaysia is so comprehensively riddled.

Then there are Mahathir’s pet mouthpieces like Matthias Chang, whose contribution to the spirit of Hari Raya, far from anything resembling forgiveness or reconciliation, has been a diatribe entitled “Scumbag Malaysia ‘recognises’ fascist government in Libya.”

In this barely-coherent ‘letter’ to Malaysia-Today, he lashed-out at the current Umno/BN government for the “silence on Malaysia’s part in condemning the military operations against Libya.”

“This is hypocrisy and is so typical of Malaysia as was illustrated by the banning of (the) President of Sudan from attending the recent Langkawi Dialogue,” he thundered on behalf of his master, Mahathir, before asking: “Prime Minister Najib, are you sleeping on the job? Are you so detached that you cannot distinguish truth from falsehood?”

He then went on to glorify the Gaddafi regime and its mercenaries as “heroic Libyans,” and to demonise the freedom fighters and their NATO and Arab supporters as “neo-colonialists, “child-killers and rapists” and “fascist Islamic forces who have betrayed Islam.”

When in fact, as everybody well knows, Islam is betrayed by the very dictators, suicide bombers and sewer-side bummers like Matthias Chang who pose as its defenders.

As the self-styled defenders of Islam, the crooks and cronies of the Umno/BN regime have robbed Malaysians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, of not just countless billions of ringgit in cash and resources, but also of truth, civil rights and justice.

And as if to celebrate this latter theft, the regime recently amended the Judges Remuneration Act (JRA) to reduce the time served by the most senior of Malaysia’s judges before being eligible for a full pension from 15 years to three, effective immediately, just as Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi is due to retire. What a thoughtful Hari Raya gift from the regime to a judicial crony.

So much, then, for self-restraint, abstinence, purification and renewal, Umno/BN style. On a brighter and thus more appropriately festive note, however, true Islamic values are apparently alive and thriving among opponents of the regime.

And nowhere more notably than in the career of courageous and talented Malaysiakini cartoonist, Zunar, whose latest international award is a place as an Artist-in-Residence 2011 in the Art and Censorship program organised by BilbaoArte/Fundacion BBK in Bilbao, Spain.

He will participate in a three-month program including a global Festival Against Censorship, for which he has been given the honour of designing the official poster.

As Zunar wrote on being informed of this prestigious award, it “is not only a recognition for me as an editorial

cartoonist, but also for the struggle to fight censorship and suppression of expression in Malaysia.”

     “It gives me new strength to produce more cartoons that focus on corruption, waste of public money and injustices by the Malaysian government.”

     “It is also a signal for the Malaysian government to stop all types of intimidation, threats and the use of criminal laws to silence me and other artists because the art community around the world is watching them.”

     This new recognition of Zunar comes as great festive-season news to me, and I’m sure to many Malaysians, Muslim and otherwise, who are sick of being internationally shamed by their government’s idiocies, crimes and Apco and FBC-driven lies.

     And a timely reminder to encourage the folks balek kampong to finally reject Umno/BN’s attempts to hijack Islam as a cover for the criminal misrule of Malaysia, and thus make this Hari Raya these hypocrites’ last hurrah.




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