So much for 1Malaysia, according to this article from Utusan Malaysia Online, mixed marriages are not encouraged because out of 10 mixed marriages, only 3 succeed. Although the article mainly focuses on marriages between Caucasians and Malays, the undertones of the message are troubling.
My interpretation of what Rais meant is this:
He tries to distinguish Caucasians and non-Muslim Malaysians but you cannot escape the fact that the culture/religious clashes of a Malay with a Chinese/Indian will always be there.
Now obviously, mixed marriages can be more challenging due to culture clash and religion but it shouldn’t be discouraged. The main reason why culture and religion act as such deterrants to mixed marriages is not because the culture/religion is at fault, but more because Malaysian society has become increasingly unaccepting and close-minded to anything that’s ‘different’. Mutual respect is often preached but in practice, its more of a ‘you leave me alone and I leave you alone’ situation which is a different animal altogether.
In a mutual respect situation, we allow the practice of their respective religions and we DO NOT PASS JUDGMENT on them. In the latter situation, it’s more about as long as I don’t have to interact with you, it’s ok. Perhaps Rais should take a deeper look into the cause of breakup in those marriages. Was it because of the couples not getting accepting each other’s culture or was it a result of pressure from family/friends that resulted in this rift? In my experience, it was quite often the latter as if the culture/religious issue was a problem from the get go with the couple, they wouldn’t have gone ahead with the relationship in the first place.
Islam preaches tolerance of other religions which is a basic tenet of the Prophet Muhammad who allowed other religions to co-exist with each other. It is unfortunate that this is often conveniently forgotten.
With a country whose citizens are easily swayed by media/government, I think it is a very dangerous thing for a minister to issue blanket statements like these. After all, the government’s job is to administer the country and keep the peace and I feel that Rais’ comments overextended his duty in putting his personal cultural and religious views into an official statement. Then again, this IS the same guy who implied that Facebook promoted bad culture (did he forget that Facebook is generally the culture of YOUR FRIENDS).
For those of you not in the loop, you can read about the whole drama of religion in Malaysia here.