Saturday, August 22, 2009


Sunk into the opening day of Ramadhan, the scheduled caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno for drinking beer has ruined whatever lasting enchantment Islam in Malaysia may have advanced since the Arab religion beached here sometime in the 14th century.

Kartika, 32, a mother of two, on a modeling tour in Pahang for a tourism stint drank three glasses of beer in the lounge of an hotel in Kuantan, Pahang, on Dec. 11, 2008.

She was suddenly pounced upon by a squad of Islamic moral-police and shot to fame for being the first woman in the country to be fined RM5000 and to be caned six strokes for the terrible misbehavior, the brewery quite clearly enhanced as among the worst enemies of Muslims in Malaysia.

She’s due to be detained in a prison for a week beginning Monday for the sentence to be meted in the elegant privacy of a prison hours before the country celebrates Independence Day on August 31st. The gutsy woman has been asking for the caning to be carried out in public.

Inside the sullen side of the first of Ramadhan while the otherwise cacophonous and virile opposition has fallen silent over the event, Marina Mahathir and Nuraina A. Samad took up the challenge and called people to read the Qur’an for the whole of the month in code, like this,

Even if meanings may be sometimes elusive, the intent of this suggested campaign is clear.

Islam, the way it is in Malaysia, is apparently coded in an exclusive system that is meaningless to the outsider and a referendum to let the Malays freely choose their faiths would probably leave the established domain to a minority of clowns.

In a society that’s plural and already long industrial, religious Puritanism should begin and remain at home.

But the matter is neither Puritanism nor any genuine concern for social morality. It is rather a system of feudal social control extended into the 21st century from the 17th by virtue of the fact the mullahs have no commercial, industrial or developmental talent to revise the method they had used from the time Nuruddin ar-Raniri became the Shaikh ul-Islam in Aceh under Iskandar Thani.

In early 20th century, while in Indonesia Tjokroaminoto founded Sarekat Islam and turned it from a batik cooperative into a revolutionary anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement, the religious departments in this staunchly feudal compliance during colonial rule fought against the modernists or Kaum Muda responsible for the advancement of independence in the Malay world.

The result was an Islam that was crass, violent and as shallow as a bird-bathing pool.

In 1922, before the Comintern in discussing Pan-Islamism, the Indonesian Communist leader, Tan Malaka, stood up against the tide to say Pan-Islam in the Indonesian experience, was not the same as it was elsewhere.

More akin to the Caucasus where the Muslims had joined the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks to overthrow the Czar in 1917, Indonesian Muslims likewise should be treated exclusively, the numbers at that time showing 13,000 members of the Partai Komunis Indonesia against more than one million in Sarekat Islam.

At that same time in Malaya, the conservative ulama working for the religious departments that were directly under the respective rulers, were relentlessly exhibiting their powers of violence against any and all non-conformists. There would be no religious dissident allowed in Malaya.

This feudal power abuse, once threaded into the fabrics of state power, will obviously need more than a drill of Wingdings a month long or even yet another media blitz to retrain the power-appetite and traditional inclination.

It will need the youth and the people to directly aggress for reshaping the Constitution and the terms of references of the Islamic institutions. We have to go the way of Fazlur Rahman and Cak Noor - Islam ‘Yes!’, Islamic State ‘No!’.

Malays must have the right to choose their own faiths, to conduct their marriages at the civil registry and to set themselves free from the feudal catch-22 to escape the violations.

This sustained display of abuse is about Consciousness. The apparatus is a schematic form lost in the woods of historical materialism and never to enjoy a union of opposites like when the Raja (King) also becomes Rakyat (Subject) for the contrast to blend into a different substance in a synthesis and so the Malays and Malaysians can finally enjoy Liberty – in the 21st century that already is.

Yes, I would like Kartika to be caned in public too, as a part of the Merdeka Celebrations. We need to be sure she will not be brutalized and raped after the caning. Members of NGOs can help take her home to her family after the ordeal.

And this is her family

-----a. ghani ismail, 22 August, 2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

$5000 summon paid... &.. Not only is she to be caned, she also need to endure 7 days of jail term. What kind of stupid Syariah law is Kuantan imposing? The point is a lawyer had been hired for her sentence to be lighten but all fails and as such she now has to go thru all this unnecessary ordeal. Why the maximum penalty? Don't the judge has mercy on this poor girl? Is he a fanatic law graduate? I wonder if he is giving the right decision to execute such sentence.

"Let Allah judge those who had judge poor Kartika". "Oh Syariah Court, Pls punish me for I have sins, Pls cane me for I repent."