Perak, Darul Ridzuan, Abode of Grace
Government Pakatan Rakyat (since March 2008)
Capital Ipoh (Royal Capital: Kuala Kangsar)
Sultan Sultan Azlan Shah Muhibbuddin Shah
Chief Minister Datuk Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin
Statistics (Malaysia Statistics Dept., 2007 est.)
Population 2,314,600: Malay 52.6%, Orang Asli 2.5% (Semai, Siamese, Temiar, Jahai, Mendriq, Kintaq, Lanoh), Chinese 30%, Indian 12.3%, Others 0.4%, Non-citizens 2.2%.
Religious Breakdown (2000) Islam 53.9%, Buddhism 24.0%, Taoism/Confucianism 5.9%, Hinduism 11.0%, Christianity 3.1%, Tribal 0.6%, Others 0.6%, No Religion 0.8%, Unknown 0.1%.
Incidence of Poverty (2004) 4.9% (Hardcore: 1.1%)
Do you know that
- Beruas, a small town in Perak, is believed to be the location of an ancient Hindu-Malay Kingdom called Gangga Negara (collapsed in early 11th century)? It is also believed to be the birthplace of Islamic teaching?
- Perak was once the richest state in the Peninsula due to tin mining in Kinta Valley?
- The countrys largest Tibetan Buddhist temple is located here in Tambun?
- Kota Tampan in Lenggong is said to be the one and only proof that the Palaeolithic Age existed in Malaya?
- The Conference of Rulers met for the 1st time in Kuala Kangsar?
- The murder of 3 European planters on 16 June 1948 in Sungai Spur in Perak led to declaring an Emergency and war against the Malayan Communist Party?
Peraks history began with the installation of Sultan Muzaffar Shah I, who was a descendant of Sultan Mahmud Shah of Melaka, in the year 1528. In 1816, Siam forced Kedah to invade Perak and made Perak acknowledge Siamese suzerainty. However, the British, through 1826 Anglo-Thai Agreement, secured the independence for Perak.
With the discovery of tin in Larut in 1848, Peraks economy boomed and became a multicultural society with the coming of Chinese migrants. Since then, tin mining became Britishs greatest investment.
The succession wars among the Malay chiefs and the Larut wars resulted from the fighting among Chinese secret societies had created political and societal instability. It eventually led to a political opportunity for the British. It was Raja Abdullah who agreed to a British Resident. He signed the Pangkor Treaty in January 1874 to accept British administration and was installed as Sultan of Perak. The treaty set the first Residential System and effectively gave the British a foothold in the Malaya while ensuring the power of the sultans over cultural and religious matters. The treaty was also said to be the historical genesis of the problematic dual-legal system in Malaysia.
The state is now governed by the Pakatan Rakyat after the Opposition coalition won majority of the state seats and 11 out of 24 parliamentary seats in the 2008 General Election. Although DAP won the most seats comparing with the other opposition parties, Datuk Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, a menber of PAS, was appointed as the new Chief Minister. The state constitution states that the Chief Minister must be a Muslim. Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham of DAP has been made the senior state executive councillor, while V. Sivakumar becomes the first Indian state assembly speaker in the history of Malaysia.
Islamization & Religious Freedom
An overzealous Mufti
A Mufti is held in high regards and has substantial influence in the Muslim community. Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria, the Perak Mufti, is known for his controversial and overzealous religious statements. He once warned the Muslims that they could be considered apostates if they celebrated Valentines Day (Star 2004-2-13), and that Hindi movies on TV led to indecent behavior among family members. He had also decreed TV3s Sure Heboh concerts as haram (malaysiakini.com, 2004-7-30) on grounds that they were detrimental to Malays faith, causing them to neglect religious responsibilities. "Young people who watch reality TV concerts late into the night take the opportunity to mingle freely and the chances of them doing drugs is high," said the Mufti (AFP, 2005-9-4). He also believed that the best solution to the threat of HIV transmission was to quarantine those suffered from HIV/ AIDS in an isolated location (NST, 2005-6-3).
Last year, the Mufti criticized the joint celebrations such as Kongsiraya and DeepaRaya, saying that it was against Islamic tenets (Malaysiakini.com, 2006-10-6). He blasted at those attending open house of non-Muslim festivals, suggesting that it would damage the faith of Muslim and lead to blasphemy.
The Mufti was also one of those who actively spoke against the Article 11 forums, believing that seeking continuation of Islamization process was the right of Muslims (malaysiakini.com, 2006-7-24). At the Ulama Convention 2006, he warned against liberalism and pluralism, saying that public discussions on polygamy, the setting up of an Inter-faith Commission and the calling for abolishment of Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution were the evidence (Star, 2006-6-13). Many Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, were perturbed by his remark.
In 2003, the enforcement officials of Ipoh City council were severely criticized and ridiculed for playing moral custodians by giving summons to those whom they deemed behaving indecently (including holding hands in the park). A couple filed a civil suit against the council. The issue caused such an uproar that the federal government had to stepped in. The Housing and Local Government Ministry was given the task to draft guidelines and define indecent act (NST, 2006-4-19). The city council was urged to keep the city clean and prioritize its duties.
In July 2006, the Perak Islamic Affairs Department raided several entertainment outlets and picked up 20 Malay guest relation officers (GRO), majority of whom were sentenced to RM1,000 fine and placed under good behavior bonds for 2 years. One of the women was jailed for four months after failing to pay a fine of RM1,800 for drinking liquor. She was also fined RM700 for lewd behavior.
Raja Nazrin, the crown prince of Perak, has recently called Muslim scholars to be open-minded, not focusing on legalism, proscriptions and prescriptions (Star, Feb 9).
In 1988, the state government enacted the Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions Bill. Section 13 of the 1992 Crimes (Syariah) Enactment says that word/action importing apostasy is an offence (fine not more than RM3,000.00 or imprisonment not more than 2 years or both). Section 12 of the same enactment states that declaring oneself to be a non-Muslim to avoid action taken is an offence (a penalty of not more than RM5,000 or imprisonment not more than 3 years or both). A Muslim law professor felt that such laws against apostasy severely challenged ones freedom of conscience.
The Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 grants civil jurisdiction to the Syariah High Court to declare a person is no longer a Muslim or declare a deceased person was a Muslim.
At a convention on Religious Freedom and Apostasy in Nov (2006), the Perak Mufti was one of those agreed that Internal Security Act (ISA) should be used on those who leave Islam. That was to safeguard the Muslim community, he claimed. He equated the apostates as gangrene which needed to be destroyed in order to save the rest of the body.
According to NST (2006-2-14), the Mufti had announced that there were close to 100,000 Muslim apostates in the country (Harakah reported 250,000). His allegation sparked an alarm and aroused the sentiment of the Muslim public. The federal government had to step in to investigate and explain.
Most recent controversy would be the mobile text message (SMS) that claimed Malays were going to be baptized at a church in Ipoh. Believing the rumor, hundreds of Muslims converged at the church attempting to stop the alleged mass conversion, only to learn that it was a first holy communion ceremony for 110 Indian children. Few people, including the Perak Mufti, were called in by the police to give statements. The SMS, almost causing a racial/religious incident, was deemed by many as malicious. The Sultan of Perak intervened to ask for tolerance and moderation over the false and malicious news.
An alleged deviant group, the Rufaqa movement, was declared by the Perak Fatwa Committee as going against Islam (Star, 2006-12-5).
Under the new state government, a non-Muslim affairs depatment -- the first in the country -- is being set up, to look after the religious welfare of the non-Muslims in the state.
The outrageous request of RM51.5 million under 9th Malaysian Plan by Kuala Kangsar Municipal Council for a landscaping project was heavily chided, even by the then Deputy Tourism Minister himself who said that money should be put in better use, e.g. poverty eradication and rural infrastructure projects.
In Aug 2006, at the Perak State Assembly, a state assemblyman from the Opposition alleged the misuse of development fund by some assemblymen and filed a motion for a declaration of expenditure of all annual allocations. While the move provoked the rest of the assemblymen to anger, the manner they spent their annual allocations had since came under scrutiny (NST, 2006-8-25).
During the 8th Malaysia Plan period, the Auditor-General Report 2002 revealed that allocation for the various rural fishermen development projects was not fully and effectively utilised. These projects were supposed to achieve zero hardcore poor status by 2005, particularly among the fishermen (Star Online, 2004-6-14).
The AG report 2005 disclosed that 159 states projects were delayed and money was wasted. The report said that the States treasury was struggling with its poor financial management (NST, 2006-9-6). According to the Menteri Besar in tabling the states deficit budget, the state will face another year of deficit (approx. RM34.78 million) in 2007 (NST, 2006-11- 21)
At the 11th state assembly in April 2007, the Sultan of Perak called the state government to shut down its companies that had become a liability, saying that they drained the states financial resources (NST, Apr 5).
In Feb, an Ipoh City councillor was reported to have been operating an unlicensed factory for years. While the factory was closed after a stop-operation order from the council in Sept 2006, disciplinary action was however not taken against him. It was however reported that the state government would take action against the 8 corrupt civil servants (Star, Feb 4).
The newly-appointed Perak Anti-Corruption Agency director, Samsiah Abu Bakar, has vowed to take firm action against corrupt staff or those who fail to act (NST, Feb 4).
Most recently, Datuk Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin assured the people that the new state administration will govern with "universal value of justice, transparency and accountability" (Star, 2008-4-20). The government has also announced to cancel all unfair projects made by the previous administration.
It was reported in 2006 that 3 out of every 200 criminal cases in Perak involved students. There were 1,042 cases of truancy in the states 845 primary schools and 450 in 212 secondary schools. 5026 disciplinary cases among primary school students and 8,186 case among secondary school students (NST, 2006-12-19).
Perak has also recorded the 3rd highest number of drug addicts in the country (Star 2006-5-24).
Perak was said to be one of the three states with high number of hardcore poor households. 6,130 families (out of which 4,026 were OA families) in the state were under the hardcore poverty line. To address the issue and achieve zero poverty by 2010, the state government has begun to develop its oil palm plantations (Bernama, 2006-1-21).
While the urban poverty in Ipoh may not be seen as a serious problem, it is prevalent.
During the colonial period, the Christian community was largely an expatriate community. The ancestors of the Chinese Christians in Sitiawan were the Methodist Foochow migrants. The Pangkor Treaty in 1874 effectively discouraged Christian evangelisation among the Malays. Such trend continues on until today.
To date, the NECF databank records the existence of 254 churches in Perak. Corporate prayer initiatives appear to be active among the churches in the capital, Ipoh. At the recent Central Regional Prayer Consultation in March, Perak Christian leaders who were present concurred that the issue of future leadership (i.e. passing on the mantle) posed the greatest challenge, besides the need for spiritual breakthrough. There was also the concern for the Churchs general lack of influence in the community.
1) State government and local councils: men and women of integrity and character; prudent in spending and wisdom in managing state funds; effective and efficient implementing policies; prioritise public interests.
2) Corrupt official and overzealous religious officials to be removed.
3) Commitment and effective in eradicating poverty especially among the Orang Asli families.
4) The sanctity of family institution to be upheld and preserved.
5) Against the threat of immorality among the youth.
6) Wisdom and vigilance for police force in combating the rising crime.
7) State education ministry, schools and parents unite to address rising disciplinary problem among the school children and youth.
8) Against the spirits of religious overzealousness and extremism.
9) The spiritual stronghold rooted in Pangkor Treaty to be broken. Religious liberty for all to be upheld.
10) The Church:
a. Passion for Jesus;
b. Renewed zeal in the Great Commission, discipleship in particular;
c. Unity among churches;
d. Strong relationship among pastors and kingdom-mindedness;
e. Raising a generation of godly and competent future leaders.
f. Salt & light in the community.