KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Perkasa insists Muslims nationwide must blackball popular singer Jaclyn Victor for singing “Harapan Bangsa”, a Malay-language Christian song that the hardline Malay rights group claims is an insult to Islam in the latest interfaith storm to erupt in multireligious Malaysia.
Its secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali also accused Senator Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon of being an “irresponsible” minister in refraining from taking a clear stand on the issue.
The minister in charge of national unity and integration has refused to weigh in on the issue, saying yesterday: “I don’t want to comment on that. They (Perkasa) can boycott as they like. It’s a free country.”
“But when Tsu Koon said it’s the right of Perkasa to boycott singer Jaclyn Victor because this country is free for anyone to voice out, that is a most irresponsible statement ever heard from a minister. Is that the best answer from a Unity Minister?” Syed Hassan told The Malaysian Insider in a text message when contacted yesterday.
Syed Hassan said as a singer whose albums are mostly in the Malay language and who has a large Muslim fan base, Victor should not have sung the song. — File pic
“Can a singer sing any song even if (it) hurts the feelings of others? Is that the right to voice out?” he asked.
As a singer whose albums are mostly in the Malay language and who has a large Muslim fan base, Victor should not have sung the song, Syed Hassan said.
“The song’s lyrics cannot be said to be for Christians because its lyrics mentioned, among others ‘semua kaum, semua bangsa dlm negara ini mengharapkan engkau Yesus.’ (all races in this country hope in you, Jesus).
“Malays, who are Muslims, do not put their hope in Jesus!” he said.
Perkasa deputy president Datuk Abdul Rahman Abu Bakar has also backed Syed Hassan’s call to boycott the former Malaysian Idol winner who has been nominated in six categories for the upcoming Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) awards this November 17 here.
Abdul Rahman told The Malaysian Insider that the group will continue with the boycott “until we got confirmation from JAKIM (the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia)”, over whether it touches on the sensitivities of others.
When pointed out that Jaclyn did not write the lyrics to the song, Abdul Rahman said “it doesn’t matter who write or record [sic]”. He said Perkasa called a boycott because of the wording of the song.
Perkasa’s attack comes as religious tension continues to be stoked in Malaysia in the run-up to the 13th general election, with political parties sparring over the Islam’s position in the country.
Malaysia’s Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation and that those who believe in other religions have the right to profess and practise their faith freely.
Victor, a Christian, is the latest person to have been caught in an interreligious firestorm that appears to be driving a wedge between Muslims and those of other faith. Islamic hardliners have alleged Christian Malaysians of conspiring with certain opposition political groups to install a Christian prime minister and create a Christian state without substantiating their claims.
The 33-year-old singer had last week said the “Harapan Bangsa” song is not for commercial purposes and is meant for Christians, pointing out that it was recorded many years ago.
“I recorded that song around 2007 specially for the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and for the churches. It was composed by a pastor with the message of Malaysia’s peace. As a Christian, I don’t think there’s any wrong if I as a Christian sing the song,” she told Malay daily Berita Harian in a report published last Thursday.
“I am aware, maybe because the song was sung in the Malay language,
(it) caused many to view this as insensitive and think that I am trying to spread Christian teachings. I sung in the Malay language because many Christians in Sabah and Sarawak speak in the Malay language.”
Jaclyn also said the song should not be an issue in Malaysia, where freedom of religion is practised.
Christians form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million-strong population, with many of them in east Malaysia using the Malay language and the word “Allah” to refer to their God.