Barisan Alternative will have to reach a new accord based on the common manifesto "Towards A Just Malaysia"  to address the political differences among component parties that have arisen in the past eight months

- at the DAP "Inter-Party, Inter-Political, Inter-Religious, Inter-Civilisational" Dialogue on "Islam and Democracy"
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh, Saturday): A member of the audience during the interactive session asked whether the Barisan Alternative common manifesto "Towards A Just Malaysia" is still relevant and applicable.

The short answer is yes, but the Barisan Alternative will have to reach a new accord based on the common manifesto to address the political differences that have arisen among component parties in the past eight months - or the Barisan Alternative will lose credibility if it tries to pretend that these political differences do not exist or sweep them under the carpet.

Another member raised the question of the Islamic State.  The Barisan Alternative common manifesto did not make any reference to the Islamic state, as "Towards A Just Malaysia" is a document which  set out the common objectives which have drawn  the DAP, PAS,  Keadilan and PRM together  in the Barisan Alternative, primarily to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

There are areas not mentioned in the common manifesto where the Barisan Alternative parties agreed to disagree, and  the issue of Islamic State is a good instance.

The DAPís stand that Malaysia shall remain a democratic secular state is clear and constant, and our position is that while PAS is ideologically committed to the goal of an Islamic State, it should also accept the political reality that in a plural society like Malaysia with a multitude of religions, an Islamic State is not a practical proposition.

It is not just that there will not be a two-thirds majority in Parliament to support the amendment of the present secular Malaysian constitution to establish an Islamic state, there is also the equally powerful reason of Malaysiaís special make-up of our population.

Malaysia has a population of about 55% Muslims and 45% non-Muslims. There are about 25 Muslim countries in the world which have at least 95% Muslim population, including some ten countries which have 100 per cent Muslim population. But there is not a single Muslim nation which is universally recognised by the Muslim ummah as a model Islamic state.

Saudi Arabia, for instance, had been denounced by Iran as "unIslamic" while the Islamic credentials of Iran, Iraq and other nations in the Middle East had also been challenged by other Muslim nations and Islamic movements.

When there is not an  Islamic State among  Muslim nations with over 90  or even 100 per cent Muslim populaiton, an Islamic state is   just not a practical proposition at all for  plural Malaysia, with 55% Muslims and 45% non-Muslims -  as it will be  opposed by the 45% non-Muslims and the majority of the Muslim Malaysians.

It will be most unfortunate if the very raison díetre  for the establishment of the Barisan Alternative, to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance,  is sidelined, sacrificed and destroyed because of the inability of the Barisan Alternative to adresss the political differences that have arisen in the past eight months  and which are outside the parameters of the common manifesto "Towards a Just Malaysia".

A meeting  of the Barisan Alternative top leader has been scheduled shortly to address and defuse what I had described as the "time bombs" in the Barisan Alternative, so that national energies and unity would not be deflected from what should be the topmost national agenda - the restoration of  justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman