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DAP man defends Lee amid storm over Quranic interpretation

This comes after Kedah leader Muhammad Sanusi Mohd Md Nor compared Howard Lee's action to that of a former Jakarta governor.

Staff Writers
3 minute read
Screen grabs of DAP's Ipoh Timur MP, Howard Lee, speaking in a TikTok video urging Muslims to support the current government.
Screen grabs of DAP's Ipoh Timur MP, Howard Lee, speaking in a TikTok video urging Muslims to support the current government.

A DAP leader has come to the defence of an MP from the party who quoted a verse of the Quran urging Malays in the country to support the present government, after Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor compared the case to a former non-Muslim governor of Jakarta who was jailed for a similar act not long ago.

Abdul Aziz Bari said he did not consider DAP's Ipoh Timur MP Howard Lee to have broken any laws because he was not beholden to Islamic laws.

"I don't see anything wrong with Lee, as he was just expressing his opinions," the former law lecturer told pro-government portal Malaysiakini.

"In any case, he's not subject to the Islamic laws of this country."

Lee had uploaded a TikTok video in which he cited verse 59 of Surah an-Nisa of the Quran, part of which reads: "O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those in authority among you."

"This is a holy verse. The truth is, all of the propaganda about elevating Islam, elevating religion, nation, and country in the name of religion – all of it is based on what you want and is actually in order to get votes," Lee said in the four-minute clip.

He also condemned PAS, accusing its president, Abdul Hadi Awang, of abusing religion while citing the verse to tell Muslims of their duty to support Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government.

"Malaysia Madani, which is based on the principle of diversity and the plurality of race, heritage, and culture, is clearly a threat to Hadi, and Hadi cannot accept that others can live in unity like Madinah al-Munawwarah," he said, referring to the Islamic administration of Prophet Muhammad.

Lee then went on to call Hadi and PAS leaders "Kharijites", a label frequently used on extremist Muslims who deviate from mainstream Islam.

A police report had called for an investigation into Lee's video for misinterpreting Quranic verses.

At press time, it appears that Lee had taken down the clip from his TikTok account.

The clip had generated stinging comments on the DAP leader on social media as well as from PAS leaders, many of whom reminded Lee not to interpret the Quran without having the necessary qualification.

Sanusi, in a recent speech in Pahang, compared Lee's action to that of Indonesia's Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Christian governor of Jakarta, who was jailed after he quoted a verse from the Quran to hit out at his critics.

Sanusi said Ahok's action of trying to use a Quranic verse for political reasons had landed him in jail over the charge of insulting Islam.

"This is the danger of liberalism, using all the veins we have to strengthen the position of Islam and Malays and harmony and unity in Malaysia. Now, even a Chinese non-Muslim can quote and interpret (the Quran) as he likes. Our religion has been liberalised. Even I don't dare; when did I ever interpret the Quran? It's not my field, although I could do so because I'm a Muslim and have studied a little, but since I'm not trained in the discipline of Quranic and hadith commentary, I don't do it," Sanusi said.