Former prominent opposition leader Mohamed Jufrie bin Mahmood took to his Facebook on Tuesday (15 October) to pen his support for Worker’s Party MP Faisal Manap after he had a heated debate with the Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam about the Maintenance and Religious Harmony Act (MHRA) in Parliament on 7 October.
The argument started when Mr Faisal said in his speech that he did not quite agree with the idea of keeping religion and politics separate. This did not go down too well with the Law Minister.
Speaking in Malay on the changes of MHRA, Mr Faisal said: “As a Muslim, Islam is understood as a way of life. Islam encompasses all aspects of life including politics and the way to practice politics. And I understand that Christianity also believes that it is unlikely that religion can be separated from politics.”
Upon hearing his statement, Mr Shanmugam asked WP’s MP to clarify what he meant, and the duo went back and forth on this issue with Mr Shanmugam repeatedly asking Mr Faisal if he agrees that religion and politics should be kept separate.
After a prolonged debate, Mr Faisal eventually said, “I do agree that religion needs to be kept aside or apart from politics so that the religion won’t be used to gain personal benefit or the benefit of any political party.”
Many netizens reacted strongly on the issue, and a number of them criticised Mr Shanmugam and called him a bully as he repeatedly hounded Mr Faisal even though he knows that the latter’s English is not up to par.
Echoing the same sentiment, Mr Jufrie also said in his post that the Law Minister is “bullying and muddying the issue as though he could not understand simple English”.
“His (Mr Shanmugam) objective of course was to trap the WP into a situation where the PAP could use the issue as cannon fodder during the upcoming elections to accuse the Workers Party of siding with extremism,” he wrote.
Mr Jufrie then went on to praise MP Faisal for being brave and not allowing “himself and his party to fall for it”.
“Thumbs up to you Faisal. Shame on you minister, good try,” he said.
In the comment section of his post, a few online users agreed with Mr Jufrie’s opinion and felt that the Law Minister is bullying the WP’s MP. Kris Adam said that this bullying tactics will continue as this is not the first time it had happened.
On the other hand, AbdulKader Hussin applauded Mr Faisal for not falling into the trap as well as for his wisdom.