(Penang, Wednesday): The announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk
Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Parliament on Monday that Malaysia is not an
moderate Islamic state but an Islamic fundamentalist state has shocked all
Before his “929 Declaration” that Malaysia
is an Islamic state at the Gerakan national assembly on September 29 last year,
MCA and Gerakan leaders had been attacking the DAP for
working “hand-in-glove’ with PAS to establish an Islamic State,
proclaiming at the top of their voices that Malaysia is a secular and not an
But immediately after Mahathir’s “929
Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state, the MCA and Gerakan leaders
were the first to give their full and unequivocal support that Malaysia had
always been an Islamic state from day one of our nationhood 44 years ago as if
the founding fathers and early leaders of MCA like Tun Tan Cheng Lock,
Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun S.H. Lee, Too Joon Hing or even the early UMNO
leaders like Onn Jaffar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and
Tun Hussein Onn would have
agreed to multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia becoming an Islamic State.
For eight month after September 29 last year,
MCA and Gerakan leaders were trumpeting that Malaysia is a moderate
Islamic state – in fact, Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik
made such a statement only
But after Mahathir’s
announcement on Monday that
Malaysia is not a moderate Islamic state but a Islamic fundamentalist state,
Keng Yaik and his counterpart, the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik would
be the first to endorse Mahathir’s escalation of his stand from his “929
Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State to his “617 announcement”
in Parliament on June 17 that Malaysia is not a moderate Islamic State but
fundamentalist Islamic State.
did the Cabinet make this radical policy shift to declare Malaysia as a
fundamentalist Islamic State, going against the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the
“social contract” of the major communities and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement
that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as
religion but not an Islamic State?
religion but not an Islamic State?
It is both sad and most shocking that the Prime
Minister and all the Cabinet Ministers are not setting the good example of
respecting and upholding the
historical, political, legal and constitutional principles of the Malaysian
nation by unilaterally, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declaring Malaysia as
an Islamic fundamentalist state.
The Reid Constitution Commission Report 1957,
which recommended the form of constitution we should have, stated that there was
“universal agreement” that “any statement in the Constitution to the
effect that Islam should be the State religion… would not in any way
affect the civil rights of non-Muslims”.
the memorandum submitted by the Alliance it was stated the religion of Malaya
shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability
on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religions and shall
not imply that the State is not a secular state.”
Bapa Malaysia and the nation’s first Prime
Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman confirmed this and declared in the Legislative
Council in 1958:
like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic State as it is
generally understood; we merely provide that Islam shall be the official
religion of the State.”
The position of the constitutional cornerstone
that Malaysia is a secular and not a Islamic state was further reinforced
in the negotiations for the formation of Malaysia in 1963, as Sabahans and
Sarawakians were assured that Article 3 of the Constitution "does not
imply that Malaysia is not a secular state." (Cobbold Commission Report).
The fundamental constitutional principle that
Malaysia is a secular nation has been upheld by the highest court in the
land in Che Omar bin Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor (1988).
Delivering the judgment of a five-man
Federal Court panel, the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas held that the
Constitution and the legal system are “secular” and held that the meaning of
the expression “Islam” or “Islamic religion” in Article 3 “means only
such acts as relate to rituals and ceremonies”.
He said that “There can be no doubt that
Islam is not just a mere collection of dogmas and rituals but it is a complete
way of life covering all fields of human activities, may they be private or
public, legal, political, economic, social, cultural, moral or judicial” but
rejected the contention that the terms “Islam” or
“Islamic religion” in Article 3 is “an all-embracing concept, as is
normally understood, which consists not only the ritualistic aspect but also a
comprehensive system of life, including its jurisprudence and moral standard”
as this was not the meaning intended by the framers of the Constitution.
Salleh Abas’ judgment that Malaysia was a
secular nation was in keeping with the interpretation of his predecessor, the
late Tun Mohamed Suffian Hashim who in 1962 defined the scope of
Islam in the constitution as being primarily for ceremonial purposes, such as
the permission for prayers to be offered in the Islamic way on official public
occasions such as the installation of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, his birthday,
Merdeka Day and other occasions.
Central Executive Committee will meet in Petaling Jaya
tonight over Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” and his “617
Announcement” that Malaysia is a fundamentalist Islamic state, and will
consider among other things the proposal that Mahathir be taken to court for
these two pronouncements.
personally not in favour of a legal move as I believe
that this is more a political than a legal issue at this stage – and
what is most important is a nation-wide people’s consciousness campaign for
all Malaysians to be fully aware of the far-reaching political, economic,
social, legal, nation-building and citizenship implications of such unilateral,
arbitrary and unconstitutional misinterpretations of the 1957 Merdeka
Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the
need for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation
to exercise their democratic and constitutional right to defend and preserve the
true meaning and spirit of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social
contract” and the 1963 Agreement.
It has been suggested
that unless Mahathir
withdraws his “929 Declaration”
and his “617 Announcement” that
Malaysia is an Islamic fundamentalist state, the PAS state government in
Terengganu is entitled to proceed with its Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment
I do not agree with this proposition, as both
UMNO’s Islamic State and PAS’
Islamic State are contrary to the true meaning and spirit of the 1957 Merdeka
Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
I find it most shocking that a Pas leader was
quoted in the New Straits Times yesterday as saying that the PAS
Terengganu state government will not entertain views and suggestions based on
human logic when reviewing the draft of the Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill, as
only views and suggestions based on hukum Allah would be considered.
This would automatically exclude the views of
non-Muslims, reflecting a serious implication of an Islamic state where
non-Muslims would not be able to enjoy a full and untrammeled role in the
nation’s decision-making process
– and explained why the DAP decided to pull out of the Barisan Alternative in
September last year.