Keng Yaik’s defence of Malaysia as an Islamic State full of holes and this is why he quickly backed out when I accepted his challenge to a public debate on the issue
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has valiantly returned to the defence of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, which was made by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan National Delegates Conference on Sept. 29, 2001 in total repudiation of the 46-year “social contract” of the major communities and entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, 1963 Malaysia Agreement and 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
Keng Yaik knows that his defence of Malaysia as an Islamic State is full of holes which cannot stand public scrutiny and this is why he quickly backed out when I promptly accepted his challenge two months ago to a public debate on the issue. Now that he seems to have found new courage to return to the subject, I would suggest that he should screw up sufficient courage to a public debate on the issue, as my acceptance of his challenge to a public debate on the Islamic State issue remains open.
Keng Yaik’s argument that Dr. Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” was “well within the confines of the Federal Constitution” boggles the imagination which makes nonsense of the objections of the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) which reaffirmed on February 1, 2002 that Malaysia is a secular state according to the Federal Constitution and called on the Barisan Nasional component parties to reconsider their support for the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
Keng Yaik performed another political acrobatics when he declared that as the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir had the power to announce Malaysia as an Islamic state. May be one should not be surprised by Keng Yaik’s political malleability and lack of political principles when he could claim that Malaysia had been an Islamic State even on the country’s independence in 1957.
Is Keng Yaik seriously suggesting that the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were all wrong when they maintained during their premiership that the country was conceived to be an secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State?
Keng Yaik claims that after the “929 Declaration”, Dr. Mahathir assured Barisan Nasional leaders during a Cabinet meeting in October 2001 that there will be no further Islamisation of the country.
This is the first time that Keng Yaik is referring to a post-“929 Declaration” Cabinet meeting as previously he had claimed that the Cabinet had discussed the issue before the “929 Declaration” – raising the question whether there was actually such an assurance as well as its actual meaning, effect and importance.
If the 46-year social contract and the clear intent and purpose of the Malaysian Constitution, supported by the highest judicial pronouncements in the land, that Malaysia is not an Islamic State could be set aside by an unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional announcement by one person, what could be the use of any such assurance even if evidence could be produced that it had been made?
But could Keng Yaik produce evidence that any such assurance had been given, and why it had been kept from public knowledge and the public domain for more than two years?
Keng Yaik came out with this “assurance” when speaking at the Gerakan life-member council annual general meeting in Ipoh on Saturday. What other fiction will he tell in future?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman