Triple critique of PAS Islamic State blueprint -  violation of 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”, incompatible with democracy in placing it beyond criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction and most worrisome of all, marks  the latest escalation in the UMNO-PAS competition to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangThursday): PAS Islamic State blueprint made public by the PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang warrants a triple critique -  violation of 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”, incompatible with democracy in placing it beyond criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction and most worrisome of all, marks  the latest escalation in the UMNO-PAS competition to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state 

The PAS Islamic State blueprint has made the BA common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” totally irrelevant, in violating one of its most basic  undertakings – the  commitment of all subscribing parties to uphold the fundamental principles  of the 46-year-old Merdeka Constitution 1957, one of which is that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO. 

The 1999 BA Common Manifesto  has been totally repudiated by the  PAS blueprint, “The  Islamic State Document”, which states that “the determining characteristic” of an Islamic State is the supremacy of Syari’ah law, nullifying  the BA common manifesto commitment on the supremacy of the Merdeka Constitution based on the “social contract” reached by the major communities on the attainment of the nation’s independence and entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State. 

Assurances that the existing  Federal Constitution will be accepted with the necessary amendments are meaningless when one such amendment involves the destruction of the   very foundation of the existing  constitution in  replacing the supremacy of the Federal Constitution with the  supremacy  of Syariah law. 

The first rights to be affected in the PAS  Islamic State blueprint are citizenship rights, starting with the bar on non-Muslims from being the Prime Minister of the country, which would be extended to other key and strategic posts such as the Chief Justice, the head of security forces, etc.  In addition to the dichotomy of Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras, there will be a new dichotomy of Muslims and non-Muslims.  Instead of the rule by Malaysians over Malaysians, there will be the rule of Muslims over non-Muslims. 

The PAS Islamic State blueprint also makes nonsense of the  numerous statements and assurances which had been made by PAS leaders. In May 2000, for instance, the Mursyidul Am PAS Dato’  Nik Aziz Nik Mat  gave a highly-praised  assurance in a dialogue with the Conference of Churches in Malaysia in Petaling Jaya  that PAS believed not in an Islamic state (negara Islam) but in an Islamic community (masyarakat Islam), accepting the more limited role of the Islamic religion in a democratic plural country, especially with a non-Muslim population of just under half its 22 million people. 

The most recent was the BBC Hardtalk interview at the end of September this year with the PAS Vice President Datuk Mustapha Ali who, when asked about the PAS Islamic State, said that the term Islamic state was never mentioned  in the PAS party constitution, that what the party meant was that “society should abide by the good values that Islam stands for” and that it was only the media that carried the term “to frighten the non-Muslims”. 

May be, the statement made by the Deputy Mursyidul Am PAS, Ustaz Idris Omar at the Islamic State blueprint  launching ceremony yesterday throws some light why the situation in November 2003  had changed from May 2000 when Nik Aziz gave the  assurance to the Conference of Churches in Malaysia and September 2003 when  Mustapha Ali gave his interview with BBC Hardtalk. 

Harakahdaily online reported Idris as saying “keadaan dan suasana berubah-ubah dan berbeza dari semasa ke semasa, justeru pelaksanaan Islam memerlukan perbincangan dan kajian berterusan”. 

Idris said: “Suasana pada 2004 berbeza dengan suasana 2005.  Juga mungkin berbeza apabila menjelang 2006, maka tindak-tanduk pemerintah perlu mengikut kemaslahatan semua pihak.” 

Explaining PAS’ acceptance of the existing Federalism concept under its Islamic State concept, Hadi said in states where the majority of the population are Muslims, Islamic laws can be implemented. In states where non-Muslims form the majority, it will be up to the non-Muslim party ruling the state but at the same time, the non-Muslim leader would allow syariah to be applied to Muslims there. 

As Muslims represents the majority in Malaysia – the 2000 Census reports that Malaysians are made up of 60.4% Muslims, 19.2% Buddhists, 9.1% Christians, 6.3% Hindus and 2.6% Confucianism/Taoism/other traditional Chinese religion – doesn’t this logically follow that PAS is not just advocating a two-track objective of Islamic states for the northern Muslim states, but also for the whole of Malaysia?  Why isn’t PAS saying so? 

The second critique is that the :PAS Islamic State blueprint is not compatible with democracy. 

At the PAS Melaka forum “Keharmonian Kaum dari Kacamata Bernegara” in Malacca on 25th June 2000, I had asked whether the political Islam of PAS is compatible with democracy, pluralism, human rights, women’s rights, cultural diversity and modernity.

I specifically asked what was PAS response to the criticism that it is not compatible with democracy and not really committed to the system of parliamentary democracy, but only believed in “one man, one vote, one time” and will use electoral politics to “hijack democracy” as power-sharing is just the strategy and mechanism to achieve the ultimate objective, the establishment of an Islamic State. 

An answer seems to have been provided by the PAS Islamic State document, which placed its Islamic State concept  beyond the pale of human criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction. The PAS Islamic State document made the following assertions about its concept of an Islamic State: 

“Any attempt to say that it is not just, tantamounts to saying that Allah is unjust in His injunction.  The option is actually divinely derived and it is not an option provided by PAS. Any contention in this regards, amounts to contesting the divine wisdom.” 

If the PAS concept of an Islamic State is divine in origin, and to criticize it is to criticize Allah and not just to criticize PAS leaders, how could the PAS Islamic State once established be criticised,  changed or replaced without going against Allah?  In fact, a vote against PAS and its Islamic State will become a vote against Allah and therefore blasphemy and treason.  

How can such a concept be compatible with democracy? 

The biggest worry, however, must be the third critique – that it marked the latest escalation in the spiral of competition between UMNO and PAS after the 1999 general election to Islamise the country and turn Malaysia into an Islamic State. 

Immediately after the 1999 general election, I sounded my greatest fear and warned of “a spiral of competitive Islamisation policies” between UMNO and PAS. 

I had said:

“The danger of the  historic electoral setback for UMNO in the 1999 general election and the emergence of PAS as the dominant Opposition in Parliament with 27 seats and a very marginalised DAP with ten seats  is that  Parliament in the next five years will principally become the battleground between UMNO and PAS for the hearts and minds of the Malays in the Malay heartland, resulting in a spiral of Islamisation policies - threatening a democratic secular Malaysia and  sidelining all other great issues of the Malaysian people.

“There are four circumstances where such a spiral of competitive Islamisation policies between UMNO and PAS to take the centre stage of Malaysian politics  in the next five years could be avoided:

  • UMNO refusing to compete with PAS on the Islamic terrain, which is unlikely as its sole agenda in the next five years is not only to win back lost Malay heartland to PAS, but to ensure that there is no further encroachment of UMNO support in the  next election leading to the loss of state governments in Perlis, Kedah and Pahang.

  • A courageous and principled MCA, Gerakan and MIC in the Barisan Nasional which could stop any UMNO lurch towards  greater Islamisation policies, which nobody can ever hope based on the ingrained subservience of  MCA, Gerakan and MIC to UMNO hegemony.

  • A strong DAP to block such Islamisation policies, which is not possible with the marginalisation of the DAP in Parliament and Malaysian politics as a result of the election result.

  • PAS refraining from responding to any UMNO political actions to up the ante in the battle for the Malay heartland by resorting  to Islamisation policies, which is not very optimistic.

As these four circumstances do not seem likely to exist, Malaysia is set on a very uncertain and perilous future.” 

My worst fears four years ago have been proved right.  This is the time for all Malaysians who do not want to see any further compromise and jeopardy of Malaysia’s  nation-building founding constitutional principles, which will prejudice its future  economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to take stock of the situation and come forward to assert their citizenship rights to put a halt to the spiral of competitive Islamisation between PAS and UMNO, by clearly reaffirming support for a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman