The implementation of Islamization policy in Malaysia, since independence in 1957 and aggressively pursued since the 1980s, has promoted the institutionalization of Sunni Islam. It has led to the expansion of the Islamic bureaucracy including the judiciary and security sectors.The Islamization policy has led to the general Islamization of education. Graduates of the Islamic programmes and institutions have been recruited into the public bureaucracy to protect, strengthen and spread Islam. Since the 1990s, the Islamic bureaucracy, supported by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, led by UMNO, has been enforcing intensively Islam especially on Muslims through moral policing based on an adherent of Sunni doctrine of Islam. The main purpose of UMNO in projecting Islamization policy and expanding Islamic bureaucracy is its intention to champion Islam in its rivalry against the opposition PAS especially in winning the hearts and minds of the Malays. On 10 February 2015, PM Najib launched the Shariah Index that complements Islamic governance through a more comprehensive Shariah requirement yardstick in eight major areas, namely, legal, politics, economy, social, education, culture, infrastructure, and environment. This will further strengthen UMNO as the defender of Islam in Malaysia. State policy of privileging Islam and expanding its role in governance has undermined the Constitution's secular foundation. Shariah law and court are becoming more important as a result. Thus this policy has a major impact on the fundamental liberties of both Muslims and non-Muslims guaranteed under the Constitution. Ethnic relations too would be adversely affected where the dhimmi (non-Muslims) would live a second-class life and give deference to their Muslim neighbours.
Number of Pages: 29
Publication Date: 27/04/2015
Imprint: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies