Double congrats – to Gait Tong on election as new Hua Zong president and the Hua Zong resolution to uphold the constitutional guarantee of Malaysia as a secular state
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): Double congratulations – firstly to the Penang Chinese Assembly Hall president Datuk Seri Lim Gait Tong on his election as the new Hua Zong (Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia) president and the 7th biennial Hua Zong delegates conference for its resolution “calling on the government to defend the constitutional guarantee of the system of a secular state”.
Gait Tong’s definition of Hua Zong’s role as “above political parties but not above politics” is most commendable, representing the most proper and correct formulation and position for any non-political civic organization to take, of being deeply concerned and involved by political developments which will affect all aspects of national life while steering clear of political party politics.
The new Hua Zong leadership should not only concern and involve itself intimately with the second great crisis in the 46-year history of the nation, whether Malaysia is to uphold or jettison Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s nation-building formula of a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, but also to ensure that its member organizations and the public fully understand the critical issues and the far-reaching implications presented by the crisis.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the subject, as there are those who believe that Malaysia is already an Islamic state or Malaysia would not be hosting the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Putrajaya next month.
This is a great fallacy for at least five reasons:
Firstly, Malaysia was never conceived as an Islamic State. The first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were one in their acceptance that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State. Even the fourth Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad agreed in the first 20 years of his 22-year premiership that Malaysia was a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State – and it was only in the last two years that he has changed his mind, but one person cannot alter the 46-year constitutional, legal and nation-building foundation of the country!
Secondly, the OIC is not an organization of Islamic States or its name would have been OIS (to stand for Organisation of Islamic States) and not OIC to stand for Organisation of Islamic Conference, as the overwhelming majority of its 57 member nations are secular and not Islamic states. This is what Mahathir himself said about OIC in 1997: ”There are at the moment not less than 56 countries which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Not all these countries have Muslim majorities and fewer still officially accept Islam as the state religion.”
In the OIC, there many member countries which have populations with overwhelming Muslim majorities but which are secular and not Islamic states like Indonesia with 88% Muslim population of 203 million people and Turkey with 99.8% Muslim population with 67 million people.
Thirdly, there is no precondition that the host of an OIC Summit is an Islamic State. Senegal, which hosted the 6th OIC Summit in Dakar in 1991, is not an Islamic State but a “secular republic” despite having 94 per cent Senegalese belonging to the Muslim faith.
Fourthly, leadership role in the OIC does not make the country concerned an Islamic State, or Malaysia would have already become an Islamic State in 1971 when Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first OIC Secretary-General.
Fifthly, when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Malaysia last month, he expressed Russia’s interest in being part of OIC, either as a full member or at least an observer. Malaysia is supportive of Russia’s participation in OIC. This is the further proof that the OIC is not an organisation of Islamic states or an ex-communist, godless and atheist Russia would not qualify to participate in OIC.
Recently, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had repeatedly reminded Malaysians to remember, protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia – and one of the pillars of Tunku’s nation-building formula is that Malaysia shall be a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.
The resolution by Hua Zong yesterday reaffirming Malaysia’s constitutional guarantee of Malaysia as a a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO, demonstrated that this important pillar in Tunku’s nation-building formula and his legacy message to all Malaysian leaders, communities and people “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State” during his 80th birthday in 1983 had not been forgotten by the Malaysian Chinese community.
All Malaysian Chinese guilds and associations should emulate the example of Hua Zong and in their delegates conferences and annual meetings adopt a resolution to reaffirm, protect and enhance’s Tunku’s legacy of Malaysia as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO – as this is an issue which concerns not just political parties, but every Malaysian citizen, gravely affecting their rights and those of future generations.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman