The grave omission of reference to the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Bahasa Malaysia master  text of the PAS Islamic State blueprint although it appears in the English text  raises fundamental questions about the compatibility of the PAS Political Islam with human rights

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangWednesday): I have raised four basic objections to the PAS Islamic State blueprint made public by the PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang last Wednesday, which has still to be responded, viz:  

  • 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 wish to discuss a  fifth basic  objection – its compatibility with human rights. 

While studying the PAS Islamic State blueprint, I have found a major inconsistency in its master text, the Bahasa Malaysia version, and the English translation of the document. 

Under section 6 on al-Hyurriyah (Freedom) of chapter 3 on “Dasar Utama Pemerintahan Islam” (Primary Principles and Policies of the Islamic Government), after spelling out seven “rights and freedom of the individuals and the citizens” in its concept of an Islamic State, the English text of the document reads: 

“The freedom and rights of the citizens especially enjoined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not only enjoined but are also protected by the Islamic State.  It must not however contravene the provisions of the Shari’ah.” 

The master text of the document in Bahasa Malaysia makes no mention whatsoever to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reads differently, as follows: 

“Semua kebebasan yang tersebut di atas dan lain-lain bentuk kebebasan yang tidak bercanggah dengan syara’ terutama yang dijamin oleh hak asasi manusia akan mendapat tempat dalam negara Islam tanpa diganggu-gugat.”

The grave omission of the specific  reference to the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Bahasa Malaysia master  text of the PAS Islamic State blueprint although it appears in the English text  raises fundamental questions about the compatibility of the PAS Political Islam with human rights. 

Before this discrepancy between the Bahasa Malaysia master text and the English translation, I had asked for clarification on the PAS Islamic State blueprint’s conditional support for  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which challenged  two important principles about its universality and indivisibility, asking the PAS leadership to spell out what are the human rights in the UDHR which are objectionable and unacceptable. 

Although Hadi had welcomed a public debate, the many questions raised by the DAP on the compatibility of the PAS Islamic State blueprint with the “social contract”, democracy, human rights, women rights, pluralism, social tolerance and modernism still await answers from the PAS leadership. 

Mursyidul Am PAS Dato’  Nik Aziz Nik Mat  has proposed a meeting of all presidents of political parties on the PAS Islamic State blueprint.  DAP will definitely be represented in such an all-party leaders’ discussion on the PAS Islamic State blueprint but I do not believe that such a meeting will materialize.

DAP’s stand on the Islamic state issue had always been constant, consistent and principled in the past 37 years, whether before, during or after the DAP’s participation in the Barisan Alternative.

The DAP helped to establish the Barisan Alternative (BA)  with PAS, Keadilan and Parti Rakyat Malaysia in 1999 with the sole objective to crush the political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional and end its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority to advance the objectives of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance  as spelt out in the 1999 general election BA common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” which had nothing to do with PAS’ objective of an Islamic State. 

Immediately after the 1999 general election, DAP had wanted the BA to address the people’s concerns about the Islamic State issue but we found no support from the other BA component parties despite persistent attempts by the DAP in 2000.  As a result, DAP decided to engage PAS in direct discussion on the issue in 2001, where we proposed a five-point position for Barisan Alternative on the Islamic State issue. 

When talks broke down between the DAP and PAS leaders on the DAP’s five-point “No Islamic State” formula for the  BA, DAP was left with no choice but to pull out of the opposition front. 

The DAP’s five-point ”No Islamic State” proposal for the BA position were: 

  • That the 1999 BA Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia”, while respecting the different ideological positions of component parties, binds every party during the duration of the BA to a commitment to uphold and respect the fundamental principles and basic structures of the Malaysian Constitution and to give  the  assurance that there would be no radical change to the Malaysian Constitution such as for the establishment of an Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu  or Christian state. Any effort by any component party to pursue the establishment of an Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu  or Christian state will be against the BA Manifesto.
  • A clear reiteration that under the BA Manifesto, a vote for BA is a vote for democracy, justice and good governance and not a vote for an Islamic State  and PAS agrees that in the duration of the BA, PAS would at all levels of the party join forces with other BA parties to strive for “A Just Malaysia” and not for an Islamic State
  • BA Presidential Council to be given prior notice of any proposed enactment or measure in the Kelantan and Terengganu PAS  state governments which could impinge on the sensitivities of the different religions, communities and political parties to allow for fullest consultation and agreement.
  • A special BA committee to be set up to ensure that controversial or sensitive pronouncements or statements affecting religious and other rights which are against the BA manifesto are only made after prior consultation and to deal with cases of infraction.
  • Although PAS is committed to the objective of an Islamic State,  it accepts the fact that in a plural society like Malaysia, the establishment of an Islamic State is not suitable  or practicable.

The PAS leadership were prepared to accept Points 3 and 4 but not Points 1, 2 and 5.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman