Pahit Zahid

A few days ago, during a parliamentary session, Zahid raised a question:

The incident in Palu (Indonesia), it was said that over 1,000 people were involved in the (LGBT) activities and the area was hit (by the disaster). This is a punishment from God.

“I would like to ask, as part of Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) tasks to implement the Mukhayyam outreach programme to help the LGBT community, on steps taken by the government agencies and other states on this issue.

“How effective are such programmes, so that we can avoid similar punishment from God,” he said.

It is especially vile and venal to suggest, when a neighbour is undergoing a catastrophic event, that this is God’s punishment.

It is like kicking a man when he is down, only worse.

Even when you sincerely believe it to be true, this is the time for compassion, not judgement.

So I wondered why he said it at all. And on such a public forum as a parliamentary session, well knowing that his remarks would be taken up by every newspaper and media.

I did some light googling.

Zahid said members of the LGBT community should not be a part of Malaysia’s security forces. “A line needs to be drawn,” he said, on 24 October 2017.

On 31 December 2017 this news was published:

On news that a “White Party Kuala Lumpur” (a spin-off of the region’s largest annual gay music festival) will be held, Zahid vowed to block the event.

“As the Home Minister, I have instructed the police and Immigration Department to ensure that the White Party is not held in our country, anywhere at all – indoors or outdoors.

“This is my commitment that I wish to state to all Malaysians.”

That’s about as much as I got going through 8 pages of a google search for “Zahid LGBT”. The rest of the hits were on his parliamentary remarks.

So no. He was not particularly anti-LGBT. It is very unlikely that he actually believed the Palu earthquake was the result of LGBT activities.

More likely, as some have suggested, is that he wants to align himself with the religious right, thinking that perhaps this is a group that will welcome anyone who upholds their views, even someone facing trial for corruption.

He has planned to embark on a roadshow to “clear his name.” I wonder what his spiel would be.

And before we huff over people who would overlook clear wrongdoing for the sake of their own religious agenda, just take a glance at the US these days.

I have not had much of an impression of Zahid. In fact if anything, I was somewhat sympathetic of a man who has inherited an impossible situation.

No longer. Here is a man who deliberately smeared a community powerless to fight back, who condemned a suffering people as under the curse of God, and blasphemed God, portraying Him as one who would simply lash out in anger and judgement to punish both the guilty and innocent; all this, it would seem to me, to push forward “race and religion” in his own defence.

Now he leaves behind such a bitter taste.

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