DAP challenges Keng Yaik and MCA  to a nation-wide  series of  42 public debates in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English in the next six months on whether Malaysia should preserve its 45-year status as a secular state or start on the journey to become an  Islamic state

Media Conference  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Tuesday): On Sunday, Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik publicly proposed in Seremban that Gerakan and MCA  work together  to counter what he described as  the DAP’s “dirty tactics” and  to stop DAP from “misleading and confusing”  the Chinese community by playing up the issue of Malaysia as an Islamic country “for its own political ends and not in the interest of unity and democracy".

Yesterday,  Keng Yaik stressed  that Gerakan and MCA must “readjust their strategy” now that the DAP has withdrawn from the Barisan Alternative to deal with the DAP’s stand opposing PAS’ Islamic State as well as the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia is already an Islamic state and proposed the establishment of a joint MCA-Gerakan council to “counter the DAP”.

Keng Yaik’s proposal  has been received with open arms by the MCA Secretary-General, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh, who committed the MCA to study the Gerakan offer.

DAP accepts Keng Yaik’s challenge of a joint Gerakan/MCA joint council against the DAP, as the next general elections will be a “Battle Royale” for the very soul of Malaysia, which will set the mould of Malaysian nation-building for decades and even generations to come - deciding  whether Malaysia is to preserve and sustain its 45-year Social Contract enshrined in the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone as a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation or jettison it and embark on the road to reshape Malaysia as an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.

DAP does not resort to “dirty tactics” to “confuse and mislead” whether the Chinese community or the Malaysian people, for we never employ the “dirty tactics” of  the politics of fear and money  which are the stock-in-trade of the  Barisan Nasional, as illustrated once again  by the recent Indera Kayangan by-election.

There must be the fullest nation-wide discussion by all communities and Malaysians citizens before such an important  decision as to whether Malaysia should abandon its 45-year  history as a secular state and start off as an Islamic state is made  as it will have   far-reaching political, economic, legal, social, cultural, religious and citizenship implications for all Malaysians as well as affect  Malaysia’s place as a competitive economy in the international marketplace and a leader at the cutting edge of the information and communication technology revolution.

DAP challenges Keng Yaik and MCA  to a nation-wide  series of  42 public debates in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English in the next six months on whether Malaysia should preserve its 45-year status as a secular state and  start on the journey to become an  Islamic state - with three debates in each language in every state in Malaysia (including the  Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur).

The 1957 Merdeka Constitution was the result of the most extensive representations, consultations and deliberations in the form of the Reid Constitution Commission Report 1957, the Alliance Government White Paper on the Reid Commission Constitution Report 1957, the 1957  Federation of Malaya Constitution Bill and parliamentary debates on the 1957 Merdeka Constitution.

The same applies to the creation of Malaysia with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation in 1963, with the establishment of the Cobbold Commission 1963 with two official representatives from the Federal Government to seek the views and anxieties of Sarawakians and Sabahans, including fears about an Islamic state in Malaysia; the Malaysia Constitution Bill 1963 and parliamentary debates on it.

The Reid Commission Report, the Alliance Government White Paper on the Reid Commission Constitutional proposals, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the Cobbold Commission Report 1963 and the Malaysia Bill 1963  all made it very clear that under the Federation Constitution, Malaysia is not an Islamic state but a secular state.

Surely, if there is going to be such a fundamental change in the basic constitutional principle of the nation and a tectonic shift in the nation-building process as  to abandon the 45-year experiment of Malaysia as a secular state and start Malaysia on the journey of an Islamic state, it must be  the result of an extensive national debate and conscious choice by all Malaysians and not the outcome of  23 million Malaysians “sleep-walking” into it without fully  knowing or understanding its consequences.

In the absence of an equivalent of Reid Commission or Cobbold Commission to conduct the fullest consultation and seek the  widest representation from  the people about the fundamental change of the constitutional principle of Malaysia from a secular to an Islamic state, the nation-wide series of 42 public debates in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English (arrangements can also be made for the debate to be held in Tamil) can serve as a form of substitute to educate the Malaysian public about the implications of such a change, to canvass public views and representations and to try to create a national consensus on the issue.

The DAP had always approached this important and sensitive subject in a cool, rational and rational manner, avoiding emotionalism or  hysteria - unlike  Gerakan and MCA which, in the 1999 general elections for instance, sought  to create fear among voters with the irresponsible propaganda that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS and an Islamic State, where there would be no pork, no bak-kuk-teh, no alcohol,  no temples and churches, no Chinese primary schools, loss and deprivation of the cultural and religious rights and freedoms of the non-Malays and non-Muslims,  etc.

I have still not recovered from my shock at Keng Yaik’s statement in Seremban on Sunday that the nation had always been an Islamic state since Merdeka in 1957 as he seemed to have  either forgotten history  or has decided to unilaterally and arbitrarily rewrite Malaysian constitutional and political history.

Keng Yaik  first stood as an Alliance candidate in 1969 under the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who had declared both inside and outside Parliament that Malaysia was not an Islamic state but a secular state. He had served in the  Barisan Nasional governments of the second Prime Minister, Tun Razak and the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, both of whom took a similar stand that Malaysia was  not an Islamic State but a secular state.

Can  Keng Yaik  explain why he has gone against the memory and political  heritage of  the first three Prime Ministers of the nation  that Malaysia is a secular and not an Islamic state?

Can Keng Yaik produce constitutional or other documents  to justify his political somersault as now to claim that the first three Prime Ministers were wrong all along and that Malaysia had always been an Islamic state?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman