Five questions on the incompatibility of the PAS Islamic State blueprint with democracy, human rights, women rights and pluralism

at the Perak DAP State Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang

(IpohSunday): The PAS’ Islamic State blueprint, the Islamic State Document,  released by the PAS President, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang on Wednesday, is highly objectionable on four important grounds: 

  • It violates the 46-year  “social contract” of the major communities entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara  that firstly, Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious  nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state; and secondly, the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of Malaysia as provided in Article 4 and not the syariah law as intended by the PAS Islamic State blueprint;
  • It violates the  1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”, to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance with clear commitment by all subscribing parties to uphold the fundamental principles of the Malaysian Constitution, binding  PAS not to pursue the establishment of an Islamic State while in the  Barisan Alternative;
  • Incompatibility  with democracy in placing the PAS Islamic State concept  beyond criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction;  and
  • It ratchets up the  UMNO-PAS competition to out-Islam each other and to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state to new and unprecedented height and intensity.

I have tonight five  questions on the incompatibility of the PAS Islamic State blueprint with democracy, human rights, women rights and pluralism and seek clarification from Hadi and the PAS leadership.

Firstly, how can Hadi deny that the Islamic State envisioned by PAS is a theocratic state when the PAS Islamic State blueprint makes it clear that the Federal Constitution would become an Islamic Constitution by removing  Article 4 that the Merdeka Constitution is   the supreme law of the Federation with a new provision stipulating that syariah law is the supreme law of the country?  A theocracy has two definitions – that it is a government ruled by a priestly order or by divine guidance.  PAS’ Islamic State blueprint fits one if not both definitions of a theocracy.

Secondly, although the PAS Islamic State blueprint maintains the current division of the legislative process namely the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, it would be a completely different division – as Parliament would not be the highest and the most supreme legislative chamber to enact laws (whatever its present limitations), but would be subject to another authority with the power  to decide on the validity of its enactment based on syariah law.  One example that comes to mind is the Iranian President and Parliament, where the former is both head of state and opposition leader where supreme power are in the hands of the mullahs while the latter is impotent with many of its enactments struck down by the highest religious authorities  in the state.  This is not compatible with democracy or parliamentary democracy. 

Thirdly,  the PAS Islamic State blueprint said: “The freedom and rights of the citizens especially enjoined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHR) are not only enjoyed but are also protected by the Islamic State. It must not however contravene the provision of the Shari’ah”.  This proviso is meaningless unless the UDHR is regarded as having contravened the syariah law, and if so, the blueprint is less than honest and truthful in not specifying what are the freedoms and rights in the UNHR which are unacceptable to  the PAS Islamic State concept.  The blueprint also states under “Policy on Women”:”To encourage healthy competition of women alongside men within the limits of the Shari’ah”. What are these limits? 

Fourthly, PAS should explain the difference  in the Bahasa Malaysia and English versions of the speech by Hadi when launching the PAS Islamic State blueprint.  In outlining a 10-point guarantee on freedoms and rights in the PAS Islamic State, the sixth point cited by Hadi was “Bahawa tidak akan berlaku pendiskrimininasian mengikut kaum, keturunan dan  jantina. Sebaliknya Negara Islam mengutamakan amalan meritokrasi.”  The English translation, both texts of which are available on Harakah online, gives a different message: “6. That there will not be discrimination based on religious, racial and gender. Opportunities and entitlement will be merit and principle-based.”   The guarantee in the English text that there shall be no discrimination based on religion is completely absent in the Bahasa Malaysia text – highlighting the new dichotomy that will be created under the PAS Islamic State, the discrimination against  citizens on grounds of religion as barring non-Muslims from high political and judicial  office, such as the Prime Minister and Chief Justice.

Fifthly, in the last paragraph of his speech, Hadi said:

“Parti Islam Se-Malaysia bersama rakan kongsi dalam gagasan BA setiap masa dan ketika akan menentukan bahawa pelaksanaan negara Islam ini tidak sama sekali akan meminggirkan mana-mana pihak. Harapan saya agar rakyat Malaysia bersama-sama dengan PAS dan teman-teman dalam BA untuk menunaikan satu kewajipan yang telah diletakkan di atas pundak kita sejak dari alam azali lagi. “ 

This is completely different from the English translation, which reads: “It is our conviction that we will enjoy your good audience and positive response despite the massive onslaught of our enemies to see us vilified and painted us in the worst of colour and prejudices. I thank you again for all your support and patience.”

While we await  for answers and clarification from PAS as well as BA, in view of Hadi’s commitment on behalf of BA on “pelaksanaan Negara Islam”, it is most regrettable that  the PAS Islamic State document has confirmed that the  Political Islam of PAS  is incompatible with democracy, pluralism, human rights, women’s rights, cultural diversity and modernity. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman