Penang State Government Allocates RM 64 million to Islamic Affairs.

Cross post from Malay­sian Athe­ists.

In the 16-31st Decem­ber 2012 edi­tion of Buletin Mutiara, it was stated that the Pen­ang State Gov­ern­ment under Pakatan Rakyat con­trol had increased the alloc­a­tion to the Hal Ehwal Agama Islam depart­ment by 300% com­pared to 2008.

In the graph provided in the freely dis­trib­uted state bul­letin, the fol­low­ing break­down in alloc­a­tion was provided:

  • 2008 – RM 25.59 million;
  • 2009 – RM 35.78 million;
  • 2010 – RM 37.85 million;
  • 2011 – RM 63.21 million;
  • 2012 – RM 64.03 million.

This increased in alloc­a­tion has come under fire by the state Bar­isan Nas­ional oppos­i­tion chair­per­son Teng Chang Yeow.

Penang’s state exco mem­ber for Reli­gious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Con­sumer Affairs, Abdul Malik Abdul Kasim has hit back in the bul­letin by accus­ing the state Bar­isan Nas­ional chair­per­son as being racist, treas­on­ous, anti-Malay, and anti-Islamic.

Abdul Malik fur­ther emphas­ises his point by stat­ing that the pre­vi­ous state gov­ern­ment under Koh Tsu Koon had never approved budget­ary alloc­a­tions of this nature before.

This is by no means a view only shared by the Islamic Affairs head. Lim Guan Eng him­self reportedly said that Teng’s com­ment about Pen­ang being Islam­ised was to imply that Lim was being anti-non-Muslim, com­pletely ignor­ing the mat­ter that the state gov­ern­ment is fur­ther entrench­ing reli­gious inter­fer­ence into gov­ern­ment affairs, and that this issue has nearly noth­ing to do with race as it is with fairness.

We at Malay­sian Athe­ists would like to point out that a budget­ary alloc­a­tion based upon reli­gion has no bear­ing upon race, as reli­gion is a belief sys­tem while race is based upon delin­eation based upon hered­it­ary con­di­tions. Islam has as much qual­i­fic­a­tions to the claims of racial status as Chris­tian­ity or atheism.

Accus­a­tions of treason have as much legal force to the mat­ter as it being treas­on­ous to dis­agree as we do to only alloc­at­ing RM 1.5 mil­lion to Perbadanan Pem­ban­gunan Wan­ita Pulau Pin­ang that seeks to pro­mote gender equal­ity. Surely an increased in invest­ments that empower women would be more fruit­ful than prop­ping up a reli­gious insti­tu­tion that is essen­tially anti-equality at its core?

If such jus­ti­fic­a­tions can be made for the sup­port of a reli­gious insti­tu­tion, and the inor­din­ate amount of invest­ment allowed for such a ven­ture, surely other reli­gious groups can lay claim to sim­ilar alloc­a­tions of the state budget as well. We at Malay­sian Athe­ists would gladly meet with any gov­ern­ment offi­cial to dis­cuss poten­tial state fund­ing and a State Non-Religious Believ­ers Affairs body to handle dis­crim­in­a­tion and per­se­cu­tion of athe­ists and other non-believers in the state.

Oth­er­wise, we too say that the state gov­ern­ment is being a racist, treas­on­ous, anti-non-Malay, and anti-every-belief-other-than-Islam under the same rules of logic they have chosen to apply to their opponents.