My reservations have been proved right from the very lukewarm reactions in the past few days, and this is not completely unexpected, as after all, if the DAP was unable to convince KeAdilan and PRM to join forces with DAP in the Barisan Alternative to convince PAS to resolve the Islamic State issue to avoid the final DAP decision to quit the opposition front, it should be no surprise that KeAdilan and PRM are still not prepared three months later to make common cause with the DAP to defend a secular Malaysia and to ward off any attempt to establish an Islamic state in the country.
DAP’s offer to co-operate with KeAdilan and PRM to defend the 44-year democratic, secular and multi-religious constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone and to ward off any attempt to establish an Islamic state remains an open and standing one - and we leave to them to decide whether they are ever prepared to make a common cause with the DAP to defend a secular Malaysia and say a clear “no” to an Islamic state in the country.
This episode reinforces my conviction that the greatest hurdle facing the cause to defend a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia is that 99.9 per cent of the Malaysians are not aware of the far-reaching implications of the competition between UMNO and PAS to mainstream Islamic State as the top national agenda for the first time in the 44-year history of the nation.
Malaysians and even political parties, both in Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative, are not fully aware for instance, that the declaration by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national assembly on September 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic state portends a tectonic shift in the history of Malaysia as it would involve the jettisoning of the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion with far-reaching implications for the political, economic, social and citizenship rights of all Malaysians and generations to come.
It highlights the urgency and difficulty of a national awareness campaign to ensure that it is not just 0.1 per cent but the majority of Malaysians who are conscious of the far-reaching implications of these developments so that they could join forces to make their voice heard loud and clear to defend a secular, democratic, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia - as intended by our forefathers in the framing of the Federal Constitution in 1957 and to say a loud and clear “no” to any attempt to establish an Islamic state.
In an interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh on 11th December 2001, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the Chinese community should not be afraid of an Islamic state, as without having to amend the Constitution, laws or policies, Malaysia is already an Islamic state.
This is what is most worrisome to Malaysians. For 44 years, there was no dispute that Malaysia was a democratic, secular and multi-religious state as clearly provided by the 1957 Merdeka Constitution - and how could it overnight become an Islamic state by a mere declaration by the Prime Minister? If this could happen to a solemn undertaking in the Malaysian Constitution, what then is safe, secure or guaranteed in Malaysia?
I find it refreshing that on Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Kwong Wah Jit Poh, MCA veteran Lim Kean Siew openly declared that MCA’s endorsement of Malaysia as an Islamic state is a “colossal mistake”.
Kean Siew said that he had been involved in Malaysian politics from before Merdeka, to post-Merdeka until the present day, and Malaysia had always been a secular state and never an Islamic state!
The former Penang MCA State Chairman also criticised the MCA for attempting to describe Malaysia as a “secular Islamic state”, terming it as “half-male, half-female language” and lambasted the MCA leadership for betraying the party principles and the trust of the membership and the Chinese community.
Kean Siew had not said anything new. He was merely speaking the truth, known to all MCA leaders and members for the past 44 years.
MCA claims a membership of close to a million members, but in the past seven weeks, Kean Siew was the one and only voice in the MCA from about one million members who had the courage to stand up to publicly point out the grave error and danger of the blind and unthinking endorsement of the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the other top MCA leaders of the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
Kean Siew’s lone voice in a membership of close to a million highlights the magnitude of the problem to reach out to make Malaysians aware of the adverse and far-reaching consequences to their political, economic, social and citizenship rights when the country is fully recognised as an Islamic state.