JAKIM should take down  two articles on the Islamic state from its website as they are offensive and  insensitive to non-Muslims and contrary to Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP welcomes the official withdrawal of the Information Ministry special  publication, “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam”, admitting that it is prejudicial to plural Malaysia -  12 days after DAP had publicly called  for its withdrawal at the Penang DAP forum “Malaysia - Islamic State or Secular State” as it was insensitive and offensive to non-Muslims and contrary to the Vision 2020 objective of 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).

Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Khalid Mohd Yunus was evasive in Parliament yesterday  when  he said the publication was withdrawn “recently” but he did not have the “exact day”, as only three days ago, Wan Zahidi had defended the Information Ministry booklet in an interview with The Sun, (1.12.2001) claiming that his findings were made since 1993 from his original academic studies as a member of Universiti Kebangsaan’s Islamic Studies Faculty, commissioned by the Islamic Centre to write on religious issues for its yearly Maal Hijrah programme.

Khalid was also evasive when he declined to give the full details of the first issue of the publication, merely claiming that the booklet, which had a jetliner  on its cover, was published three months before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

In actual fact, the first time the booklet appeared and was distributed publicly was at the high-level  MCA dialogue  in Kuala Lumpur on October 20, 2001 for MCA leaders  and government officials to publicly explain the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia is an  Islamic state - which was attended by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and two other MCA Ministers, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and  Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn, various MCA Deputy Ministers and MPs, as well as  the Prime Minister’s religious adviser Tan Sri Dr. Hamid Othman.

It was at this MCA dialogue that Liong Sik made his infamous and irrelevant  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” and proceeding to claim that Malaysia could both be termed an Islamic state as well as a secular state.

Members of NGOs and various non-Muslim religious organisations who attended the dialogue were shocked when they read the booklet, not only at its insensitive and offensive contents but the fact that it could receive the endorsement of the top MCA leadership as to be distributed at the MCA dialogue.

Although Khalid said the publication was not made with the Cabinet approval, Cabinet members like the MCA Ministers who know of the booklet, which was first distributed at the high-level MCA dialogue, should explain why they were prepared to accept its contents despite their insensitivity and  offensive nature to non-Muslims and contrary to Vision 2020 and the Bangsa Malaysia concept.

DAP calls on the Cabinet to set up a special Cabinet committee to ensure that there will be the fullest respect and sensitivities of all the citizenship rights of a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation - especially with the most disturbing declaration by the Prime Minister that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

Such a special Cabinet Committee to oversee all government policies, measures and actions to ensure the fullest respect and sensitivities of all the citizenship rights of a plural Malaysia is not only in full accordance  with the Constitution and  the Rukunegara but imperative as there are increasing signs of such insensitivity and intolerance in certain quarters, including in the public service.

Although the Information Ministry has withdrawn the booklet, “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam”, the more important question is whether the government has retracted the two  policy objectives clearly spelt out in the publication:

In this connection, the Cabinet should also direct JAKIM, the Depatment of Islamic Development in the Prime Minister’s Department, to take down  two articles on the Islamic state from its website (http://www.islam.gov.my)  as they are most offensive and  insensitive to non-Muslims and contrary to Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept.

In the 2002 Budget currently debated in Parliament, JAKIM is given the huge budget allocation of RM294.3 million next year - the biggest in the nation’s history.

The Cabinet and Parliament must ensure that JAKIM uses this huge allocation to carry out its departmental  function to plan, co-ordinate, develop  and implement programmes for the advancement and progress of Islamic affairs in the country, and not to carry out unconstitutional activities as to transform Malaysia into an Islamic state.

However, there are two articles on the JAKIM website which are as offensive as the Information Ministry booklet “Malaysia adalah sebuah Negara Islam” in being insensitive and offensive to non-Muslims in Malaysia, contrary to Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept as well as in reiterating the “final objective” to establish an Islamic State in Malaysia.

The first article “Malaysia Negara Islam - oleh Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia” divided states in the world into three categories, after admitting that the term “Islamic state” is not stated directly in the Quran and Sunnah.  The three categories are:

  1. Negara Islam.
  2. Negara kafir yang berperang dengan Islam, dan
  3. Negara kafir yang tidak memerangi Islam.

As the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state was officially made by the Prime Minister at the UMNO General Assembly in June 2001 and  reiterated to the  non-Muslim constituency at the Gerakan delegates assembly on Sept. 29, 2001, and the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn (as well as the fourth Prime Minister in his first 19 years and 11 months in the office) did not know that Malaysia was  an Islamic state until June- September 2001, is JAKIM suggesting that Malaysia was in the third category, “Negara kafir yang tidak memerangi Islam”, in the past 44 years of our nationhood?

This article made two statements with far-reaching implications.  The first one said: “Status negara Malaysia sebagai negara Islam tidak boleh lagi dipertikaikan, sebaliknya adalah lebih baik menerima realiti yang ada dan berusaha memperkuat serta memperbaiki lagi mana-mana kelemahan dan kekurangan jika ada.”

This article concluded: “Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara Islam adalah menepati dengan definisi yang diperkatakan oleh ulama masa kini dan terdahulu. Tugas kita sekarang ini adalah untuk mengisi dan memantapkan lagi apa-apa yang perlu diperkemaskan dan tidak lagi menghabiskan masa mempertikaikannya kerana telah jelas bahawa Malaysia adalah sebuah negara Islam yang terbukti dari segi sejarah, perundangan, pembangunan dan penghayatan Islam.”

The second article on the JAKIM website is “Konsep Negara Islam” by Dr. Abd. Halim El Muhammady, Fakulti Undang-Undang, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

The writer also admits that there is no mention of Islamic state in the Quran when he wrote: “Qur’an tidak menyebut secara langsung tentang pembentukan negara Islam” and that it was a new term which was first introduced by Muhammad Rida in his book “Caliphate and the Great Immate”.

The conditions to qualify to be head of the Islamic state (Ketua Negara Islam) include:

“Kelayakan undang-undang sempurna iaitu ia seseorang memenuhi syarat-syarat berikut:

a.  Seseorang Islam: kerana tugas utama ketua negara ialah untuk melaksanakan syariat. Tugas ini hanya dapat dilakukan oleh ketua negara Muslim…

b. …
c.  Seorang lelaki; Ijmak ulama berpendapat bahawa jawatan khalifah hanya sah dipegang oleh lelaki, kerana jawatan ini disegi beban tugasnya tidak sesuai dengan keadaan kaum wanita.”

On citizenship in Islamic state (Kerakyatan Negara Islam), it referred to “kafir dhimmi” and said:

“Kerakyatan negara Islam diasaskan di atas dua asas; pertama kepercayaan agama dan kedua ialah ikatan perjanjian kemasyarakatan di mana seseorang itu berada. Kerakyatan bagi Muslim ialah kerana kepercayaan agama dan bagi bukan Muslim kerakyatannya melalui ikatan perjanjian kemasyarakatan yang dipanggil ‘Aqd al-Dhimmah’. Dengan perjanjian ini mereka menjadi rakyat      negara Islam seperti Muslim yang mendapat hak dan menanggung tanggungjawab.

“Adapun golongan bukan Islam yang datang ke negara Islam untuk mendapat perlindungan maka mereka diletakkan di bawah perjanjian khas yang dipanggil ‘Adq al-Musta’min’. Dengan  perjanjian ini mereka diberi perlindungan dan mereka hidup mengikut ajaran agamanya.”

On the final objective to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia, the writer advocated the amendment of all Federal laws,  the Federal Constitution and state laws which obstruct  the full implementation of Islam and establishment of an Islamic State.

The “final objective”, the same as stated in the withdrawn Information Ministry booklet, was clearly spelt out by the writer when he said:

“Oleh itu bagi memudahkan proses penyatuan umat di masa depan kita perlu menerima sebagai suatu kenyataan bahawa negara ini ialah sebuah negara Islam. Dengan menerima negara ini sebagai sebuah negara Islam  bukan bermakna ianya telah selesai segala tuntutannya. Kesempurnaannya perlu kepada pengisian daripada kita, sama juga seorang Muslim yang diakui sebagai Muslim selepas mengucap dua kalimah syahadah bukan bermakna Muslimnya sudah sempurna, kesempurnaan Islamnya bergantung kepada proses peningkatan ilmu & penghayatan Islam pada dirinya.”

For 44 years, it has never been disputed that a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia is  the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone, and while Parliament is being asked to approve RM294.3 million for JAKIM’s budget next year, it was to carry out its function to develop and advance Islamic affairs in Malaysia, which is completely different from pursuing the final objective to establish an Islamic State.

For this reason, the two articles on the JAKIM website which are insensitive and offensive to non-Muslims as well as contrary to the Constitution, Rukunegara, Vision 2020 and the Bangsa Malaysia concept should be immediately taken down.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman