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MCA should show true political courage by insisting that the Cabinet respects the 1957 social contract by rejecting Najib Tun Razak’s pronouncement that Malaysia is an Islamic state



Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): DAP urges Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to mark the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations as a genuine celebrations for all Malaysians by reaffirming his commitment to the 1957 social contract and original Federal Constitution that granted Malaysia independence.  

Malaysia gained Merdeka on the basis that the Federal Constitution is secular and is the highest law of the land that gave birth to our nation. Abdullah must realise that even if BN abuses its overwhelming 91% Parliamentary majority to amend the Federal Constitution to make Malaysia an Islamic state, such a step is constitutionally doubtful by reason of removing the Federal Constitution as the highest law of the land and replacing it instead with the Koran. 

The pronouncement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that Malaysia was never a secular state and has always been Islamic state governed by Islamic fundamentals have shocked non-Muslims and Muslims alike who have grown up with the knowledge that Malaysia is not an Islamic state. By saying that Malaysia is an Islamic state, Najib is ignoring the country’s legal status, constitutional history and social contract.  

MCA secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan even issued a statement quoting the Alliance memorandum to the Reid Commission on Sept 27, 1956, that stated:

“The religion of Malaysia shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion, and shall not imply the State is not a secular state.” 

Ong said former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj had said during a meeting on April 17, 1957, that "the whole constitution was framed on the basis that the federation would be a secular state". 

Ong said notes prepared by the Colonial Office dated May 23, 1957, at the London Conference Talks mentioned that "the members of the Alliance delegation stressed that they had no intention of creating a Muslim theocracy and that Malaya would be a secular state".

This constitutonal historical fact was affirmed by the judiciary in the epochal 1988 Supreme Court decision in the case of the Public Prosecutor versus Che Omar. when it declared that the Malaysian Constitution is secular and Islam as the religion of the Federation does not make Malaysia an Islamic state. In that judgment, Chief Justice Tun Salleh Abas ruled that the syariah law was not the basic law of the land and that the constitution was the supreme law. Unless there is a constitutional amendment Malaysia is and never was an Islamic state. 

By making an unilateral announcement that Malaysia is an Islamic state that has always been governed by Islamic fundamentals, Najib is making a pre-emptive strike at “hijacking” our Federal Constitution away from our legal and constitutional moorings that has been attested by constitutional history and reaffirmed by the courts.  

DAP is curious as to the reason why MCA’s disagreement with Najib that Malaysia is an Islamic state was not publicised in the Malay press. Neither did MCA Ministers appear to have brought this matter up in Cabinet as there was no press announcement. This is a favourite “double-faced” game by MCA leaders of tailoring its message to different audiences.  

History records that MCA had not objected but supported former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement on 29.9.2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic state. The time has come for MCA to redeem this grave historical mistake and show true political courage by insisting that the Cabinet respects the 1957 social contract by rejecting Najib Tun Razak’s pronouncement that Malaysia is an Islamic state. 

DAP stresses our opposition to any theocratic state whether Buddhist, Christian Hindu or Islamic. DAP hopes that other BN component party members such as Gerakan, MIC, PBS and SUPP will stand up and be counted in opposing Najib and UMNO’s “hijacking” of our Federal Constitution and unconstitutional attempt at turning Malaysia into an Islamic state.



* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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