17 August 2017
The debate in Malaysia on whether Muslim children born out of wedlock should be permitted to carry their father’s name is yet another sequel in the series on how religion and morality is politicised.
While the Court of Appeals has ruled that Malaysian civil law contains a provision enabling “illegitimate children” to carry their father’s name, the National Registration Department (NRD), the Department of Islamic Development and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have disputed the ruling.
Such politicisation of Islam and morality is not new. One need only hark back to the multiple arrests of Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges, and the contention that he was morally unfit to lead Malaysia because of this.
These events similarly present a template for how political actors in Malaysia manufacture ludicrous moral panics, characterise them as piercing threats to the country’s moral and religious fabric, and present themselves as messiahs sent to purge the country of debauchery.
…Prashant Waikar is a research analyst at the Malaysia Programme in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 17/08/2017