(Penang, Sunday): In the past ten days, three paragraphs of my speech at the LSE Malaysia Club 2001-2002 at the London School of Economics and Political Science on 12th December 2001 were made to appear to have plunged the DAP into the worst party crisis in the DAP’s 35-year history.
In actual fact, it is not the DAP which is facing a grave crisis but the Malaysian Constitution and nation-building process which are facing the biggest crisis in the 44-year history of the nation.
However, one must be thankful for such media attention on my LSE speech, although I would have preferred that it be focussed fully and squarely on the merit of my proposal for a secular front in Malaysia to defend a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia.
The “controversial” three paragraphs of my LSE speech stated:
“The defence of the 44-year-old constitutional principle of a secular Malaysia is not anti-Islam and DAP is prepared to work with progressive Islamic forces in Malaysia to expand the space for justice, democracy and pluralism in the country in the 21st century.
“DAP is prepared to form new Opposition front with KeAdilan, PRM and other political forces to defend the Merdeka Constitution principle of democratic, secular, multi-religious and progressive Malaysia to strengthen the hard centre of political and religious moderates in the country.
“It is for KeAdilan, PRM and other political forces in the country to decide whether they want to make common cause with the DAP to protect and promote a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia, with Islam as the official religion, which is the social contract agreed by our forefathers on the nation’s Independence some five decades ago.”
The secular front that I had mentioned in my London speech is never meant to be anti any political party, not even PAS or UMNO, as it is for the cause of defending the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of a secular Malaysia.
If PAS or UMNO are prepared to defend and uphold the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution of Malaysia as a secular state with Islam as the official religion, there is nothing to stop them from being part of such a secular front - but I would probably cause more offence if I had mentioned PAS in the context of a national movement to defend and uphold a secular Malaysia.
I fully respect the rejection of the proposal for a secular front by the Parti Keadilan Nasional Vice President Azmin Ali in Kangar yesterday, which has not come as a surprise.
As I said in last week, I was not optimistic about the responses to my London speech on a secular front to defend a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia, especially as DAP was not able to get the support of PKN and PRM in Barisan Alternative to defend and uphold a secular Malaysia.
But such political differences do not mean that politics should degenerate into personal attacks or character assassination - as accusing me for instance of suddenly becoming an agent of the Barisan Nasional.
DAP’s position in Malaysian politics is constant and consistent - that we are prepared to co-operate with any political forces in the country, whether Barisan Alternative or Barisan Nasional - on issues of common interest in the best interest of the people and country.
The real national focus, therefore, should not be on the synthetic issue of the DAP facing the gravest party crisis in history but the biggest constitutional and nation-building crisis being faced by Malaysians, compounded by the shocking fact that Malaysians are not aware of such a crisis.
As was stated by one speaker at the DAP forum on Islamic state in Kuala
Lumpur last Wednesday:
“Lest it be forgotten, any attempt to introduce an Islamic State in Malaysia will lead to a radical (and irreversible) change to the constitutional framework of the country. The conversion from a secular state to an Islamic state is not simply a matter of semantics.
“For the transition also involves the introduction and incorporation of an entirely new moral and political logic, which effectively redesigns and reconstructs the political framework of the country as a whole.
“In a secular state, concepts like citizenship, nationality and sovereignty are paramount. But these concepts are framed within a secular framework where one's identity is based on the status of the subject as a private individual rather than the member of a faith community.
“Conversely, membership to a religious state entails a transition to a new ideational framework where some of the most basic political concepts like citizenship, identity and belonging will be altered for good…
“The trajectory of Malaysia and Malaysian politics may well be altered for good in the years to come, but as the passive Malaysian public sits by and watch, these decisions are being made on our behalf by self-proclaimed leaders of the religion whom we do not know and did not elect.
“Malaysia may well be on the brink of crossing the threshold into the unknown, going where it has never gone before. Oddly enough, the only people who seem ignorant of this fact are we Malaysians ourselves.”