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Takaful Must Not Only Be Sincere But Seen To Be Sincere By Retracting The Fauzi Mustaffa’s Offensive Email Prohibiting Its Muslim Employees From Extending Deepavali Greetings Accompanied By An Unconditional Apology To All Hindus.   



by Lim Guan Eng

Tuan Haji Md. Azmi b. Abu Bakar
Chief Executive Officer
Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad (Takaful),
26th Floor Annex Block,
Dataran Kewangan Darul Takaful,                                                                17 October 2006.
No. 4 Jalan Sultan Sulaiman,
50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.                                                                    BY HAND

Tuan Haji,
Takaful Must Not Only Be Sincere But Seen To Be Sincere By Retracting The Fauzi Mustaffa’s Offensive Email Prohibiting Its Muslim Employees From Extending Deepavali Greetings Accompanied By An Unconditional Apology To All Hindus.   

DAP wishes to express the mounting anger of all Malaysians and NGOs, especially Hindus, at the offensive email circulated by your  head of Takaful Malaysia Syariah department, Encik Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa, on 3 October 2006 barring all Muslim employees from extending Happy Deepavali greetings.

Mohd Fauzi claimed Muslims are prohibited from doing so because such greetings are unIslamic and was like syirik (practising polytheism) to Muslims. He even advised, “So Muslims who have inadvertently wished Hindus a Happy Deepavali, Happy Durga Pooja or Happy Lakshmi Pooja must immediately repent and not repeat it in the future”.

No one has left Islam just because he or she extended Happ[y Deepavali greetings. Calling on Muslims to repent is equivalent to branding Muslims greeting Hindu friends Happy Deepavali as a sin against God. This branding is insulting to Hindus as Deepavali is a holy celebration by Hindus. And also insulting to the status of Islam as a holy religion that respects other religious beliefs and practices where it has never labelled greeting Hindus Happy Deepavali as sinful.

Many Malaysians are shocked and hurt at such an offensive email written by a well-educated man, holding a senior position in your company as head of the legal unit and Secretary of the Shariah Supervisory Council. If a learned man can come up with such extremist sentiments, what hope is there for racial understanding and mutual religious respect. That is why it is so disappointing that no apology or retraction was forthcoming from a Fauzi.

Damage to your company’s reputation was done but it could have been limited if prompt action had been taken to defuse the wronged feelings of Hindus by issuing a full retraction and an unconditional apology. Unfortunately Takaful failed to quickly seize the opportunity to disassociate Takaful or its staff from such unhealthy and bigoted views.

Despite two apologies put up in your home page, we regret that you are only apologizing for any confusion and ill-feelings that may have arose from the email. No apology or retraction was made for the contents in the email. Your second apology yesterday only stressed that the contents and views of the email regarding the Deepavali Greetings do not in any way represent the views of Takaful Malaysia and again apologizing for any confusion and ill-feelings caused. 

Takaful will only be seen to sincere in its apology if it uses its powers to direct its staff to withdraw and then fully apologise for the offensive email. Takaful must not only be sincere but seen to be sincere by retracting this offensive email and making a full unconditional apology to all Hindus.

Such intolerance from a major corporate body doing business with non-Muslims is not welcome. Racial and religious harmony will only worsen if no action is taken against educated professional spouting such extremist sentiments. If Mohd Fauzi withdraws and apologises, then in the spirit of compassion in this holy and festive period celebrating the holy month of Ramadan and Deepavali, Fauzi should be forgiven.

However should Mohd Fauzi refuse to do so, then Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim)’s suggestion that Mohd Fauzi be sacked should be adopted. The director-general of IKIM’s Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al Attas has called for Mohd Fauzi’s sacking because he was not fit to hold the position and need to repent for his arrogance in and Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria has said Muslims are permitted to extend greetings to those of other faiths in conjunction with their respective festivities so long as they do not join in their celebrations.  

The issue is now no longer Mohd Fauzi because he is only one person who has lost himself in way in extremist tendencies. The bigger issue is whether the top management in Takaful shares such views. Takaful should not forget that not only as it non-Muslim staff, it also has many non-Muslim customers. If being courteous to non-Muslims is considered anti-Islamic then Takaful might as well not do any business with non-Muslims and restrict itself to the Muslim market.

As a premier financial institution owned by all Malaysians, Takaful has a moral obligation and duty to promote understanding and mutual respect between Malaysians of different faiths and races. Takaful has performed financially but should not smear its reputation with the antics of its senior staff. For this reason both Takaful and Mohd Fauzi must withdraw the email and apologise unconditionally for its contents.


Yours faithfully,

* Lim Guan Eng,  Secretary-General of DAP

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