Tengku Razaleigh’s warning that Malaysian nation-building at the “cross-road” in history most timely as next general election will be a  critical  battle for  the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of a secular Malaysia  with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State 

Penang DAP 37th Anniversary Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangSaturday): The warning by Malaysia’s most famous aspirant to be Prime Minister, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that Malaysian nation-building is at the “crossroad in our history” is most timely as the next general election will be a critical  battle for the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State. 

Tengku Razaleigh gave a most sobering speech at the opening of the 12th Malaysian Law Conference themed “Evolving a Malaysian Nation: The Role of Law and Lawyers” in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. 

Former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh posed a most pertinent question: 

“We have to decide whether we continue to build our nation according to its original plan, or to allow a new architect to build a ‘twin tower’ on a foundation that was meant only to support a single and solitary structure since this nation was born”. 

Clearly dismayed by people “talking openly of their desire to make Malaysia a state with a dual system”, he  said: 

“What might have once appeared as a strange and peculiar suggestion has now become a political manifesto able to garner some measure of public support. I have no wish to speculate as to the outcome of any future elections. It will be sad indeed if this ‘one state with two systems’ ideology were to continue to have followings, even those in power today may make the necessary ‘political adjustments’ in order to continue receiving the electoral support to remain in office.” 

Paying tribute to the “vision, strength and singleness of purpose in defending the principle of the social contract enshrined in our Constitution”, Tengku Razaleigh said “We are at a cross-road in our history” as “This new development is negative in nature. It runs counter to what our past leaders have striven to build all these years”. 

Tengku Razaleigh said: 

“Holding a nation together demands a strong and solid ‘social construction’. When we construct a building, we go through a dual process.  At first, we construct it in our minds, and it is only later that we go through the social process. And so in nation-building, the social construction must first exist in the minds of our leaders and the society at large before the process is followed by efforts in the real world.  No nation can do that effectively unless it has leaders with a vision, social architects who can see into the future, and social engineers, planners and project leaders who can work together as a strong team with the society at large.” 

It is clear that Tengku Razaleigh was not just referring to PAS which wants to establish an Islamic State in Malaysia, but also the followers of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, with MCA and Gerakan apologists claiming that Malaysia is “one state with two systems”.  This may be why the first political leader  to respond to Razaleigh’s speech was the MCA Deputy President Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy who claimed that Malaysia was already a “one state with two systems” nation and   “non-Muslims have already accepted it  as a way of life”.  (Sun 13.12.03) 

There can be no doubt  that if on the attainment of the nation’s Merdeka in 1957, all thinking citizens and  national leaders at the time, whether Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun Lim Chong Eu, Tun V.T. Sambanthan or from the Opposition or the civil society  had been asked whether Malaysia was conceived to be an Islamic State, or to be “one state  with two systems”, the answers would have been a loud, categorical,  unequivocal and unanimous  “NO!”. 

This was because the “social contract” solemnly agreed to  by the major communities leading to the nation’s independence in 1957, and reaffirmed in the negotiations with the people of Sarawak and Sabah in the formation of Malaysia in 1963, was crystal-clear which allowed no room for dispute that Malaysia was  founded as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State. 

This is a position which had been repeatedly declared by the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku  Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn – with Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul .Rahman making the famous legacy speech on his grand 80th birthday dinner celebrations organized by Barisan Nasional on Feb. 8, 1983 reminding the Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional leadership  “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State”.  

Why has Malaysia suddenly undergone a tectonic shift in nation-building, with DAP left as the only political party in the country  standing  firm by the Merdeka “social contract” while all other political parties, whether ruling or opposition, had abandoned  the 46-year social contract  to accept Malaysia as an Islamic State? 

DAP rejects both  the PAS’ Islamic State blueprint released last month and the “929 Declaration” of Tun Mahathir Mohamad and  UMNO that Malaysia is an Islamic State, which had received the endorsement of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and all Barisan Nasional component parties. 

But the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declaration by one person, one party or one political coalition cannot change the character of the 46-year “social contract” that Malaysia was conceived and founded as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, unless the Barisan Nasional can claim that it has the support of the people and country  to jettison this “social contract” as securing a landslide victory in the next general election. 

If the Barisan Nasional wins a landslide victory in the next general election, it would be regarded and used as a national mandate  to  abandon  the 46-year “social contract” and to embark Malaysia on the irreversible road of an Islamic State, whether starting with a “one state with two systems” formula before reaching “one-state, one-system”  of a full Islamic State. 

After such a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election, Malaysians who still remain true and loyal to the Merdeka “social contract” of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State would be told that the 46-year “social contract” had become history and is no more – replaced by a new social compact of Malaysia as an Islamic State.   

In fact, those who still insist that the nation was never conceived to be an Islamic State would be regarded as anti-national in going against the new national consensus that Malaysia is an Islamic State – with all the far-reaching political, economic, legal, human rights and citizenship implications! 

Malaysians must give serious thought as to whether in the next general election they are prepared to see the 46-year “social contract” consigned to the dustbin of history and see Malaysia embark on the irreversible road of an Islamic State!


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman