DAP welcomes the MCCBCHS reaffirmation that Malaysia is a secular state according to the 45-year  Federal Constitution and calls on Barisan Nasional component parties to reconsider their support for the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state

- Ayer Tawar DAP Branch forum "Should Malaysia become an Islamic State"
Lim Kit Siang

(Ayer Tawar,  Friday): DAP welcomes the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) reaffirmation that Malaysia is a secular state according to the 45-year  Federal Constitution and calls on the Barisan Nasional component parties to reconsider their support for the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

The MCCBCHS, which represents the four great non-Muslim religions of the country comprising some  42 percent of 23 million Malaysians, in a statement on Thursday also reaffirmed its opposition to any tinkering of the 1957 "social contract" embodied in the Federal Constitution specifying that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and that Malaysia is  not an Islamic state.

The MCCBCHS statement said:

"When Malaya and then Malaysia was founded there was a social contract among the different communities of different races and religions on the type of constitution the country shall be governed by. Such social contract was then enshrined in our Constitution and cannot be changed without consultation and consent of all the communities that make up Malaysia."

The MCCBCHS statement expressed its "grave concern and alarm" over recent developments in the country following the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 29th September 2001 that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.

It said it had meetings with political parties in the Barisan Nasional and in the opposition in the past few months on the declaration, which convinced it to issue a reaffirmation of a declaration it adopted in 1988 on the freedom of religion
in Malaysia and to uphold the secular character of the Federal Constitution.

All the Barisan Nasional component parties should convene special meetings to reconsider their stand on the Prime Minister’s declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state in the light of the latest MCCBCHS statement.

Gerakan, in particular, should convene a special meeting to reconsider its stand as a result of the MCCBCHS statement, as it was at the Gerakan annual delegates conference that Mahathir made the declaration that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.

On Sunday, Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik proposed that  Gerakan and MCA establish a joint council to “readjust their strategy” to counter the DAP to deal with the DAP stand opposing PAS’ Islamic State as well as Mahathir’s  declaration  that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.

This proposal shows that Keng Yaik has no confidence that Gerakan on its own could take on the DAP on this issue and needs to get the support and backing of MCA.  Unfortunately for Keng Yaik, his proposal had been rejected out-of-hand by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who said he saw no need for such a joint MCA-Gerakan council!

Keng Yaik is in the most  uncomfortable political position in his entire political career  as he knows that his new-found argument that Malaysia  had always been an Islamic state for 45 years  since Merdeka in 1957 lacks  conviction as it runs counter to the nation’s constitutional and political history as well as his own political record from the 1969 general elections, when he first stood as an Alliance candidate under the first Prime Minister, Tunku  Abdul Rahman who openly declared that Malaysia was a secular state and not an Islamic state, until the 1999 general elections when he urged  voters in Bruas and Malaysia to vote against the DAP and the Barisan Alternative to reject an Islamic state!

DAP had  been prompt to  accept Keng Yaik’s challenge as we are prepared to take on  MCA and Gerakan jointly to let Malaysians decide whether to  preserve and defend the 1957  Merdeka social contract that Malaysia shall remain a democratic, secular and multi-religious state  or abandon this 45-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone in exchange for  an Islamic state.

Although Liong Sik had backed out of the joint MCA-Gerakan council idea against the DAP,  the DAP challenge to a nation-wide series of 42 public debates on whether Malaysia should remain a secular state or become a Islamic state remains open to Keng Yaik and Gerakan - and we await their response.

The Perak Opposition Leader and State Assemblyman for Pantai Remis, Nga Kok Ming, has announced just now that he would issue a specific invitation to Keng Yaik, as MP for Bruas, for a debate on whether Malaysia should become an Islamic state immediately after the Chinese New Year Chap Goh Meh, and  I hope that Keng Yaik would be prepared to face his own voters in Bruas to initiate the public debate series  to justify his support for an Islamic state after calling on them to vote against an Islamic state in the 1999 general elections.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman