This was when Liong Sik came out with his infamous comparison of an Islamic state with a rose, saying: “Many things can be called by more than one name… a rose in English is a rose, in Mandarin it is mei-kwei, in Malay bunga mawar and in Tamil roja but they all mean the same thing.”
However, the assurances by MCA Ministers that there would be no change of status quo after the declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state has been quickly disproved by recent developments, such as the Information Ministry booklet “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam” and the EPF succumbing to PAS pressure and dropping all investments in gaming, tobacco and liquor stocks.
At the DAP Penang forum on “Malaysia - Islamic state or Secular state” last week, I asked the Information Ministry to withdraw its booklet, Malaysia Adalah Sebuah Negara Islam (Malaysia is an Islamic State) published by its Special Affairs Department, because it is insensitive and offensive to non-Muslims and contrary to the Vision 2020 objective of a Bangsa Malaysia.
The 25-page booklet, written by Ustaz Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, a member of the National Fatwa Council, makes disturbing and insensitive references to non-Muslims, including calling them unbelievers, kafirs (infidels) and dhimmi (non-Muslims who live in an Islamic state) and even touched on the imposition of kharaj (land tax on non-Muslims).
The MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers must end their silence on the Information Ministry booklet, as it is a government publication representing official policy.
Liong Sik and the MCA Ministers cannot claim ignorance of the Information Ministry booklet, because it was first distributed at a high-level MCA forum in Kuala Lumpur on October 20, 2001 for MCA leaders and government officials to explain the Islamic state declaration to MCA members and non-government organisations.
Three MCA Ministers, namely Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn and Ling were present, together with the Prime Minister’s religious adviser Tan Sri Dr. Hamid Othman were present at the forum.
Liong Sik and the MCA Ministers should explain why they have no objections to the Information Ministry booklet “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam”, and whether they would admit their oversight and negligence and support the DAP’s call for the immediate withdrawal of the booklet as it is insensitive and offensive to non-Muslims as well as contrary to the Vision 2020 objective of a Bangsa Malaysia.
MCA Ministers should explain whether another immediate result of the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state is that EPF should drop all investments in gaming, tobacco and liquor stocks.
It was the MCA Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy who made such an announcement in Parliament on Wednesday when the PAS Youth leader and MP for Pokok Sena, Mahfuz Omar questioned how EPF’s holding of 571.1 million shares in British American Tobacco on February 28, 38 million shares in Genting and 16.8 million shares in Resorts World on April 20, and 4.3 million shares in Guiness Anchor as at September 11, could be reconciled with the government’s claim that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
Chan Kong Choy backed down under Mahfuz’s questioning and said that EPF would not make any more investments in such companies dealing in liquor, gambling and cigarettes, and that the present investments in such companies would be disposed of when the share market improves.
He also told Parliament that the EPF board has also appointed consultants well-versed in syariah (Islamic) laws as advisers on the fund’s investment portfolios.
The Cabinet should review these breaches of Ministerial assurances that the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state would not affect the status quo and direct the EPF to reconsider its decision to create a distinction of stocks into “halal” and “haram” stocks which would have far-reaching repercussions in the Malaysian economy.