The choice before Malaysians is not between Islamic State ala-PAS or ala-UMNO but whether to defend and uphold the 46-year   founding principle of the nation as a secular Malaysia with Islam as official religion

Media Conference Statement
at the launch of the  Love Malaysia/Defend Secular Malaysia campaign at PJ Old Town
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaWednesday): For 44 years, the mainstream nation-building agenda was to develop and sustain the democratic, secular and multi-religious nature of the Malaysian Constitution and voices calling for an Islamic state were at the periphery; but overnight, with the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference  on September 29 2001 (the “929” declaration), the controversy over what type of an Islamic state Malaysia  should become has hijacked the mainstream nation-building agenda.    

For the first time in the 46-year Malaysian parliamentary history, the question whether the UMNO Government is “Islamic state” enough has become an abiding   theme  in the debates in  Parliament - when for the last four decades, the term “Islamic state” was rarely heard. 

In the past two years, the DAP had been  a lone voice as if  in the wilderness seeking to draw the attention of Malaysians to the tectonic shift in the nation-building process but we have found it very heavy-going as there had been little awareness, concern and alarm, with virtually nil crisis consciousness,  at the  far-reaching political, legal, socio-economic and citizenship implications for all Malaysians when the 46-year democratic, secular and multi-religious nature of the Constitution is jettisoned in favour of an Islamic state - whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.    

Malaysians who want to defend the 46-year  Merdeka Social Contract for  a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia must be aware that they are in a race against time, for if in the next general elections - expected within  the next 4 - 9 months - the Barisan Nasional is given strong support, it would be regarded as a mandate to jettison the 46-year Social Contract and embark Malaysia on the road of an Islamic State.  

All Malaysians and the civil society should  speak up to preserve  the 46-year democratic, secular and  multi-religious constitution and not to allow it to be transformed into an Islamic State, for two reasons: 

  • Firstly, the  time for Malaysians to stand up to be counted in defence of the Malaysian Social Contract is from  now to the  next general election within a span of 4 - 9 months  - and not when it is  too late after the next general election when the Barisan Nasional can claim national endorsement for the “929 declaration” because of landslide victory. 
  • Secondly,  Malaysians must depend ultimately on themselves to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract”, as the overwhelming majority of the political parties in the country are either opposed or not bothered about this issue.

In the next general election, Barisan Nasional strategists would want to convince the Malaysian voters that the greatest issue before them is to choose between Islamic state ala-UMNO without any  change to the Constitution and the status quo and the Islamic state ala-PAS with  all the phobias about jihad and Taliban Afghanistan.

If Malaysians have no other options and  must choose between an Islamic state ala-UMNO or an Islamic state ala-PAS, the overwhelming majority of the people would choose the former - but this is a false choice for  Malaysians.  

This is because the real choice that must be made by Malaysians is not to choose between Islamic state ala-UMNO or Islamic state ala-PAS, but whether   to continue to defend the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious state with Islam as the official religion or to jettison this principle and endorse Malaysia as an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS or ala-some other formula.

This is the time for moderate and progressive Malaysians,  Muslim and non-Muslims, to stand up and be united in the great battle in the defence of the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle of a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia with Islam as the official religion and to make it very clear that Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, do not want either UMNO or PAS Islamic state which is not mentioned in Quran and the Sunnah or any other theocratic state of other religions.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman