This is suggested:
My name is Nurul Izzah Anwar; Nurul is my short name, Anwar Ibrahim my father.
On Nov 3, at a church, place paid for by it, I made the remarks pertaining to a question asked from the floor. It is a constitutional question: Is freedom of religion applicable to non-Malays only, meaning Chinese and Indians and the native peoples of Sarawak, Sabah and the peninsula. In another phrasing that question, which was posed by Siti Zabedah Kasim to who goes my thanks and gratitude, also means this: Is this freedom not applicable to the Malays.
My answer to Siti was that she was wrong, freedom has to be applicable to the Malays as well. This position is the same as its constitutional clause from which it came. Freedom must apply to all. It has to. If not then the constitution is invalid: some parts are good only for Malays, other parts are for the Chinese and Indians. Even this differentiation, a sort of legalised division, is unconstitutional: all are equal before the law, the constitution says.
Here is the problem: the three-part constitutional Malay definition says a Malay, such as I, must be Muslim. In other words, professing Islam (other than speaking the Malay language and observing Malay custom) is a constitutional requisite – an absolute requirement – to be Malay.
Inverse the logic. Am I – Nurul Izzah Anwar who speaks Malay, observe Malay traditions – Malay if I am not a Muslim? The obvious, personal, individual answer says, ‘yes, I’m Malay‘. Constitutionally, however, this answer is wrong because it is silent.
Suppose I give the constitution the leeway to claim my identity, rather than for me to claim mine, then the ‘no’ answer from the constitution leads to a deeply personal dilemma: If my name is Nurul Izzah, daughter of the Malay Anwar Ibrahim, is not a Malay, then what am I? Who am I?
This way of phrasing questions stops at the door of the constitution although the bureaucratic and legal apparatus of the state, of Malaysia such as its Islamic institutions and agencies insist that they and they alone will decide the answer. For them to decide is to ask their permission; for example, I should get affirmation or otherwise from the Syaria court.
If however the question – who am I? – is a personal, individual, existential question then I alone and only I can answer it. Not even my father. Here’s my answer: I’m Malay. I’m Melayu anyway you want to toss the elements of its definition.
This answer suggests I’m in conflict with the constitution, my birth records, my personal, legal identity, my IC, not to mention the Islamic apparatus of the state. My existence however is not unlawful, I’m just illegal. There are two probable ways out: either the state removes me as Malaysian citizen or tolerate my existence and so let me fall into the other legal category such as DLL, dan lain lain, that is, Others.
Siti’s question and my answer has the effect I just described above. That is, if I choose to accept the constitutional guarantee on religion, I choose either to remain a Muslim or to be an apostate even though being apostate is not for me to affirm, legally; I have not had Syaria court clearance.
Now, to the crux of the issue, which is this: did I say Malays are entitled to freedom of religion? Answer, yes, I did.
By the answer was I encouraging apostasy or murtad. Answer, no. If I did then the constitution is equally guilty of the charge because, recall, I’m regurgitating the constitution. It is the constitution that planted the idea – even empowers me – to say I’m free to decide as I wish, whether I’m a Malay or not.
If another Malay, such as my father Anwar Ibrahim, chooses to go down the path of leaving Islam, then should I be held responsible for his decision? If I’m held responsible, then I shall be accused of instigating apostasy. Once accused, my prosecutors will have to ask my father: did he leave Islam on account of his daughter or because his daughter had said so?
Thus, my fate falls into my father’s hands, his tongue actually so that if I despair today it is for the concern that my father might speak with a forked tongue and a muddled mind. He must be clear headed and honest.
My regret is that I was dishonest to have lied in the backward inference that Malays, in order not to be apostate, are not entitled to choose.
My remarks on Nov 3 (Malays are entitled to religious freedom) has to mean, by logical progression, that if a Malay has religious freedom then leaving Islam is possible, and on leaving Islam apostasy is committed.
Again, however, my remarks is not the equal of encouraging apostasy because the choice or the freedom thereof is not mine to decide. But in denying the inference that apostasy would invariably result – and logically flow – from religious freedom, I was wrong. Siti Kassim is right to be disappointed and I thank her for saying so.
My error, simply stated, is to say and mean one thing today, another thing tomorrow.
Here’s what I say to Umno, PAS members, Utusan, PKR and other Malays: the Malays are already a free people and the constitution validates that. And here’s what I appeal to Umno and other Malays: Trust the Malays, trust yourself, because the alternative to Islam is … what? Christianity? Allah forbid.
To Siti: indeed you are right, and I lied about what I mean in my words on Nov 3. It is I who must reform, undergo reformasi. The Chinese Confucian call this self-cultivation. To show my commitment, I shall cut off my forked tongue; you’ve only to say the word and lend me a pair of scissors. You are welcome to perform the task.
To those who had contributed statements in my defence (Nathaniel Tan, Hannah Yeoh, Steve Oh, Raja Petra, Mariam Mokhtar et al), this is my response: shut up and get out of my face. None of you make sense. I also withdraw my threat to sue Utusan. To Steve Oh in particular, I trust the police will put you away – for good; you are everything that is not a Malaysian.
To Steven Gan and Malaysiakini, here’s a scoop-tip: I’m thinking of quitting PKR and joining Umno. You are welcome to call me a frog.
Now, leave me…. There’s a lake I want to visit – alone.