Keng Yaik defends Dr M's
Islamic State declaration - A Response
Press Conference Statement
by Nga Hock Cheh
At page 3 of NST December
7, 2003 the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik was quoted as
having said the following:-
"Dr Lim said what Dr Mahathir did was
well within the confines of the Federal Constitution.
He said the former Prime Minister had
not acted unconstitutionally when he unilaterally announced the country's
"Dr Mahathir was the then Prime
Minister and head of government, thus he had the power to announce Malaysia
as an Islamic country".
It is shocking that the Gerakan
President who is a Senior Cabinet Minister could make such a statement. His
said assertion is devoid of any constitutional or legal basis. It betrayed
his gross ignorance of the Constitution. Under his oath of office the
Gerakan President as a Cabinet member is required to "preserve, protect and
defend" the Constitution. Has he discharged the said solemn duty?
Article 4 of the Federal Constitution
clearly stipulates the Constitution as the Supreme law of the Federation.
In this regard to Tun Mohamad Suffian Bin Hashim the former Lord President
has rightly described Malaysia as "a constitutional monarchy"; its
head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Sultan elected for 5 years
by the Conference of Rulers who has to act in accordance with Government's
advice. (Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia chapter 1 by Tun
Mohamad Suffian Bin Hashim)
Nobody disputes that Islam is the
official religion of the Federation; this is enshrined in article 3 of the
Federal Constitution. Whilst Islam is the official religion of the country
that does not in itself make or transform Malaysia into an Islamic State.
This was the understanding embodied in the Reid Commission which was
reiterated in the Cobbolt Commission when Malaysia was established. In fact
there is no express provision in the Federal Constitution which states that
Malaysia is an Islamic State.
On the contrary, Bapa Malaysia Tunku
Abdul Rahman on his 80th birthday on 8th February 1983 reminded the Barisan
National leaders and Malaysian "not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State".
The third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn on the occasion of his 61st
birthday publicly support Tunku's call reiterating that Malaysia was set up
"as secular state with Islam as the official religion" as enshrined in the
The said view of our first Prime
Minister is also supported by the decision of the Federal Court in Che
Omar Bin Che Soh v PP  2 MLJ 55. In the words of Salleh Abas
LP "By ascribing sovereignty to the ruler i.e to a human, divine source of
legal validity is severed and thus the British turned the system into a
secular institution. Thus laws had to receive their validity through a
Thus it is clear that the DAP position
that Malaysia is a secular democratic state is consistent with the Federal
Constitution. It is also consonant with the vision of the founding fathers
and the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 and in conformity with the Judicial
interpretations on the subject. It is the Gerakan President who is confused
and for reasons best known to himself has chosen to approve and support the
greatest change in the character of the country into an Islamic State
without the approval of the Malaysian Parliament.
No leader is above the Constitution
unless he is a dictator. One would have thought that in the wake of
"growing extremist Islamic ideology" the Gerakan President would take a firm
stand and mobilize the party as a bulwark against such Islamic onslaught.
Instead the Gerakan President has taken the dastardly route of joining the
unilateral declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic State to mislead the
rakyat into making a false choice whether to accept the moderate Islamic
State ala UMNO or the more extreme version ala Pas when the true choice
is actually between a secular democratic Malaysia or an Islamic State of any
form whether in Pas or UMNO outfit.
It is disturbing to note the attempt
by the Gerakan President to ascribe to the former PM non existent powers
under the Constitution to unilaterally announce the country as an Islamic
State. Hopefully it is a mere product post retirement sycophantic
outpouring and exuberance of the Gerakan President.
Having erred in his ill advice that
"what Dr Mahathir did was well within the confines of the Federal
Constitution" (which obviously was not) the Gerakan President has the
cheek to chide DAP party Supremo Lim Kit Siang. Gerakan is also a party
with a multi racial outfit but not in substance or principles. Gerakan was
formed as an opposition party but joined the BN bandwagon. In defending Dr
Mahathir's declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic State the Gerakan
President has committed the greatest sellout of the decade in
supporting one leader to turn a multi-racial, multi-cultural and
multi-religious Malaysia into an Islamic State overnight at the Gerakan
delegates convention on 929. So who is guilty of practising cunning and
It is tragic that the Gerakan
President should continue to lie to the rakyat that after 929 (September 29,
2001) there is no further Islamisation of the country. How does the Gerakan
President explain the following developments:-
(a) The statement by Jakim
after the 929 declaration on the need for continuous Islamisation to
overcome existing weaknesses and defects until the achievement of the final
objective of a full Islamic State.
(b) The attempt to introduce Doa
Selamat in a primary school in Penang
(c) The issuing of summons to
unmarried couples of opposite sex holding hands in public places in Ipoh
(d) The prohibition of sale of
pork in the open market in Kelang
(e) The requirement of consent
from a Muslim neighbour if one desire to rear a dog in JB
(f) The prohibition of sale of
alcohol outside the shop premises in Ipoh
Didn't 929 start them all – the above
frightening manifestations and prelude to an Islamic State.
The "social contract" as embodied in
the Federal Constitution should not be tampered with out of political
expediency. No quarter should mortgage the Merdeka legacy for any short
term political mileage for the loss of its sanctity would be irredeemable.
No responsible leader should sow any seed of disunity that may cause the
disintegration of the very fabric of our nation. For who shall live if
Malaysia dies and who shall gain if Malaysia is disintegrated?
* Nga Hock
Cheh, Director Legal Bureau On Public Interest DAP Perak