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Najib repudiating the Merdeka
“social contract” and the stand of the first three Prime Ministers that
Malaysia is a secular and not an Islamic state?
(Parliament, Tuesday): Is Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak repudiating the Merdeka “social contract” and the stand of the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn with his statement today that Malaysia is “an Islamic state with its own interpretation”?
Najib’s explanation that “as an Islamic state, it does not mean that we don't respect the non-Muslims” and that “The Muslims and the non-Muslims have their own rights (in this country)" is no assurance at all, when there is unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the fundamental principles of nation-building agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation that whilst Islam is the official religion of the Federation, Malaya and later Malaysia is not an Islamic State, whether of the PAS or Umno variety.
This cornerstone of nation-building was best spelt out by Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, at the 80th birthday celebrations organized by the Barisan Nasional in his honour on 8th February 1983, where Tunku pointedly said Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic state, that Malaysia was set up as a secular State with Islam as the official religion which was enshrined in the Constitution.
Tunku’s stand that Malaysia was not and never conceived by the Merdeka Constitution to be an Islamic State was endorsed by Tun Hussein when the third Prime Minister celebrated his 61st birthday five days later.
There can be no doubt that this fundamental position that Malaysia was never conceived to be an Islamic State would also have been endorsed by Tun Razak if he had been alive in 1983 to celebrate Tunku’s 80th birthday and comment on his speech, as there had been no dispute whatsoever in the first three and even four decades of nationhood that Malaysia was a secular and not an Islamic state.
What confidence can non-Muslims have in Najib’s assurance that in his concept of Malaysia as an Islamic state “with its own interpretation”, “Muslims and non-Muslims have their own rights” when the fundamental citizenship rights of the non-Muslim Malaysians to preserve and protect the fundamental basis of nation-building could be summarily deprived and denied by a unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the Merdeka “social contract” with non-Muslim Barisan Nasional parties and leaders without having any say whatsoever?
This is not only denial of the fundamental citizenship rights of non-Muslim Malaysians but also of Muslim Malaysians the majority of whom would want Malaysia to steer away from extremist Islamist policies as practiced under the first three Prime Ministers of the country.
Najib has come out with the declaration that Malaysia is not a secular but an Islamic State, at a time when he faces great personal and political vulnerabilities, with many questions about his integrity and leadership swirling in the public domain.
Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made the “929” declaration that Malaysia was an Islamic State on Sept. 29, 2001 when Umno which he led suffered its worst general election defeat and he conceived this unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declaration as a major gambit to fend off the PAS challenge to the Malay heartland.
It would appear that the Merdeka social contract becomes a political pawn when political parties or individual political leaders find it expedient to manipulate and exploit it to shore up their political support.
Najib has cast a very dark cloud over the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations this year with his statement today, raising grave questions about the future of the Merdeka social contract and the compact reached by the forefathers of the major communities on the fundamental basis of Malaysian nation-building.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman