(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s defence yesterday
of his “929 Declaration” at the Gerakan national delegates
conference on Sept. 29 last year that Malaysia is an Islamic State is a breach
of his 1983 public pledge to strengthen the nation-building foundation laid down
by Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Mahathir should be reminded of
this public pledge which he gave at the 80th birthday party for Tunku
hosted by Barisan Nasional at Wisma MCA on 8th February 1983.
Three important events took place at the 80th birthday dinner for
Tunku almost two decades ago, viz:
The Tunku said:
“The Constitution must be respected and adhered to. There have been attempts by some people who tried to introduce religious laws and morality laws. This cannot be allowed.
“’The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion” (The Star and all other press)
When Mahathir made the public pledge in 1983 “to carry on the struggle built on the Tunku’s foundations”, one such important foundation was the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement fundamental principle that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state – whether PAS Islamic State or UMNO Islamic State.
When Tunku followed up on Mahathir’s pledge to carry on Bapa Malaysia’s foundation for the nation and made the call that Malaysia should not be allowed to be turned into an Islamic state the keystone of his 80th birthday speech, Mahathir did not demur.
In fact, Tunku’s call not to allow Malaysia to be turned into an Islamic State was publicly endorsed by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Musa Hitam, at a Foreign Correspondents’ luncheon speech in Singapore two days later, and openly supported by the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn four days later on 12th February 1983 on the occasion of his 61st birthday.
Even Utusan Malaysia came out with an editorial on 10th February 1983 under the heading “Malaysia Negara Sekular” expressing full endorsement for Tunku’s statement that Malaysia must not be turned into an Islamic state and should continue as a secular state.
During the short question session yesterday after opening the Selangor State
Government seminar on Understanding Malaysia as an Islamic State, Mahathir
replied to Ronnie Liu, DAP National Publicity Secretary:
“When I say that Malaysia is an Islamic state, there is no reason for a controversy as I am merely stating a fact that has been accepted by all, including the non-Muslim citizens in the country.”
Mahathir named me and implied that I was the only one in the country who
opposed his “929 declaration” of Malaysia as an Islamic State allegedly
because I have run out of
“political capital” - that mine
is a lone voice.
I have no doubt that if Mahathir had made the “929 declaration” that
Malaysia is an Islamic State after February 1983, it is not only I myself who
would have spoken out against it,
the first and third Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku and Tun Hussein Onn,
would have come out publicly during their life-time to state that Mahathir’s declaration was wrong, contrary to
the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia
Agreement as well as against the national foundations laid down by Tunku which
Mahathir had pledged to strengthen.
It is sad that there are now no more such voices like Tunku and Tun Hussein
Onn to speak loud and clear that Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic
State but should remain true to the founding principle of the nation that Islam
is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
Tunku and Hussein Onn would never have imagined it possible that a Barisan
Nasional Prime Minister pledged to continue the Tunku’s nation-building
foundations could do the very opposite of unilaterally declaring Malaysia as an
Mahathir is wrong however in claiming that the DAP and I are the only lone
voices opposing his “929
declaration” in arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declaring Malaysia as an
Let me remind him of the stand taken by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) in January this year reaffirming that Malaysia is a secular state according to the 45-year Federal Constitution and its call to 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 in the country comprising some 42 percent of 23 million Malaysians, expressed its “grave concern and alarm” over Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” and reiterated 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.
Various religious organizations, covering the Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths have also come out with individual and separate statements opposing the “929 declaration” turning Malaysia into an Islamic State. For instance, the Catholic Archbishops and Bishops Conference of Maaysia in a statement by its President, Most Rev Anthony Soter Fernandez on 1st August 2002, called on all parties to respect the social contract and the Merdeka Constitution provision of a secular state. It said:
“While the Honourable Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional leaders have assured us that the Constitution will not be amended, such assurances do not offer sufficient guarantee that Malaysia will not degenerate into something of the intolerant Islamic model in which Syariah laws would be imposed on non-Muslims and our fundamental liberties especially those of religious freedom would be infringed on.
"Over the past twenty years in the process of Islamisation of our laws and regulations, Government bureaucracy have imposed rules and regulations which have infringed on religious freedom of both Muslims and non-Muslims and the trend seems to be getting worse over the last few years.”
All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, who cherish the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement should remind Mahathir two things: firstly, that he had broken his public pledge made on the Tunku’s 80th birthday in February 1983 not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State and secondly, that DAP and I are not the only “lone voices” in Malaysia opposing his unilateral and unconstitutional “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State.