DAP to have dialogues with residents’ associations,  community organizations and civic bodies to discuss Tunku’s nation-building formula of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State

Media Conference Statement
at Chai Leng Park  market, Penang on the  DAP’s Love Malaysia/Defend Secular Malaysia campaign
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangSunday): It is almost a month since the DAP launched the “Love Malaysia - Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign in conjunction with the 46th National Day Celebrations as direct response to  the recent repeated  call by  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad   to Malaysians to remember, protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman.

One important pillar  of Tunku’s formula of nation-building and  racial tolerance is to be loyal to the  social contract  agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation, and written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution,  1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970  Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state – whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO. 

We are very concerned to find one month after this campaign that large sections of the Malaysian population do not have a proper understanding of this issue, either because of lack of information or they had been giving wrong and misguided information – as we have been able to reach only a very small section of the people.

For instance, many still do not know what is the “929 Declaration”.  There are some who asked why we are opposing an Islamic State when Malaysia is already an Islamic state.  Others are worried that the “Defend Secular Malaysia” and “Say No to Islamic State” campaign is anti-Malay and anti-Islam, making it unsuitable  for a multi-racial and  multi-religious society.

We are confident that if we have ten or 20 years to explain the critical importance of  the “Defend Secular Malaysia with Islam as official religion” campaign to the people, not only non-Malays and non-Muslims but the majority of Malays and Muslims will be  able to give their support – for Tunku Abdul Rahman’s legacy of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion is not anti-God, anti-religion or anti-Islam as it conceives of a  religious or morality-based polity.

However, we do not have the luxury of time, for the next general election which will be held in the next three to nine months between December and June next year will be deciding whether Malaysia will make the tectonic and irreversible shift of the 46-year nation-building basis from a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion to embark on the road of an Islamic state.

Malaysians do not realize or understand that the political, socio-economic, educational, religious, legal and citizenship landscapes  are already being materially affected by the Islamic State contest between PAS and UMNO.

For instance, in my 30 years in Parliament from 1969 to 1999, I had never heard the term “Islamic State”  used by any Member of Parliament in parliamentary debate.  But in the past four years, the Islamic State competition between UMNO and PAS has dominated and even hijacked  parliamentary debates.

Last  week was the first week  of the 2004 Budget debate. The focus was not on  how Malaysia can become more competitive to become a world-class nation  so that Malaysians can have higher standards of living and better quality of life, as having world-class universities, highest IT-literate population and among the world’s top ten least corrupt nations. Instead,  the week’s debate was  overshadowed by the UMNO-PAS Islamic State contest, revolving around issues as to whether the budget should have been presented during Friday and lasting over three hours as to prevent Muslim MPs from the  Asar prayers, the sodomy argument  between UMNO and PAS and the proposal for a mufti to be adviser to the Cabinet.

Even Abdul Malik Mydin’s successful swim across the English Channel took on a completely different character.  DAP had questioned why Malik’s crossing of the English channel had not been seen in proper perspective and context, as over 630 individuals had made successful swims, including a 12-year-old boy in 1979, a 12-year-old girl in 1985 and a paraplegic who had lost the use of his legs who swam the English channel in 13 hours 48 minutes as compared to Malik’s 17 hours 48 minutes. Furthermroe, why the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit was not focused on national feats which could raise Malaysia’s  international standing and reputation.

But in Parliament, the English Channel swim by Malik was raised to pose the question as to how Malik could perform his prayers when he has to be in the English Channel for such long hours!

The “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign is in a race against time and there is an urgent need to communicate its  importance to as many Malaysians as  possible in the short time available.

For this purpose,  DAP proposes to have  dialogues with residents’ associations,  community organizations and civic bodies to discuss Tunku’s nation-building formula of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State so that as many people as possible could get the true and correct picture of the urgent stakes at issue in this campaign not only for themselves but also for future generations. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman