Noh Omar should be disciplined for his highly offensive, repugnant, irresponsible and dangerous division of non-Muslim Malaysians into “kafir zimmi” and “kafir harbi” – creating a new fault-line in nation-building  at the end of  22 years of Mahathir premiership

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaWednesday): Tomorrow will be the final parliamentary appearance of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, where he would table the Mid-Term Review of the Eighth Malaysia Plan for a three-day debate. 

As such, the parliamentary debate beginning tomorrow is not only about the two-and-a-half years of the Eighth Malaysia Plan 2001-2005 but the 22 years of Mahathir’s premiership in national development. 

Mahathir had undoubtedly brought Malaysia to first-world status as far as infrastructure development is concerned, as symbolized by  the Petronas Twin Towers, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and  Putrajaya – but in other aspects, the country had gone backwards in other human development measures, such as the rule of law, democracy, human rights, a free press, accountability, transparency, public integrity  and good governance. 

Yesterday’s uproar in Parliament during question-time over the highly offensive and objectionable categorization of non-Muslim Malaysians into “kafir zimmi” and “kafir harbi” by none other than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Noh Omar,  was no joking matter but marked a sad and shocking commentary of a major failure in the overriding objective of the government’s  national development policies, plans and efforts to create national unity with the emergence of  a  new, ugly and highly dangerous and inflammatory faultline among Malaysians. 

Noh’s categorization of DAP and non-Muslim Malaysians who disagree with UMNO as “kafir harbi” is highly irresponsible and seditious, as “kafir harbi” connotes an unbeliever who wars against Islam and who must be fought and whose blood and property are “halal”.   This is most slanderous, reprehensible  and seditious. 

Noh’s description of MCA and Gerakan as “kafir zimmi” is no less irresponsible and contemptuous of the fundamental constitutional rights of non-Muslim Malaysians. There is no reason for MCA and Gerakan Ministers, MPs and leaders to feel proud and superior to be categorized as “kafir zimmi”, as  they should be greatly offended at being likened to the protected people like “zimmis” with inferior status as a conquered people in an Islamic state. This is because non-Muslim  Malaysians  are not  “protected people” in an Islamic state  but full-fledged Malaysian citizens by virtue of their constitutional birthrights in a democratic secular Malaysia where  Islam is the official religion but  is not an Islamic state – whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO.  

The description of MCA and Gerakan in the Barisan Nasional as “kafir zimmi”  and the DAP and those who oppose UMNO as “kafir harbi”  is putting  the clock of Malaysian nation-building back by  46 years  as this is the first time in the history of Parliament that a government front-bencher or any MP had openly referred to non-Muslim Malaysians in such derogatory,  offensive and repugnant  terms. 

Is this one   development legacy of 22 years of premiership of Mahathir? 

Noh should be disciplined, whether sacked or suspended as parliamentary secretary, for his offensive, repugnant,  irresponsible and dangerous division of Malaysians into “kafir zimmi” and “kafir harbi” – which is the greatest disservice to the overriding objective of national development plans and policies to create national unity out of the diverse Malaysian citizenry of different races, languages, religions and cultures.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman