(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should realise that the fears of the Chinese and non-Muslims that they will be relegated to second class citizenship status in an Islamic state in Malaysia cannot be allayed by mere verbal assurances like the one he made yesterday.
Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) in Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir gave the government’s “categorical undertaking” to all Malaysian Chinese that their rights as citizens as stated in the Constitution would not be taken away.
He said: “The Chinese community should not be worried and go around saying that the Government will deprive them of their rights. Please do not listen to people who want to make an issue out of it.
“In Malaysia, the community is always represented in the Government and we have no wish to obstruct or curtail your rights. Your rights will remain your rights.”
Despite Mahathir’s assurances, the irrefutable and ineluctable fact is that with the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state, the Chinese and non-Muslims face the erosion and loss of the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation.
How can such a fundamental loss of a Malaysian citizen be regarded as not a loss at all?
It is not just the Chinese or non-Muslims in Malaysia who are concerned about the sudden lurch of the nation-building direction towards an Islamic state, the majority of Muslims in Malaysis are also concerned, as the establishment of an Islamic state in Malaysia even ala-UMNO and not ala-PAS has far-reaching legal, political, economic and citizenship implications for all Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim.
Malaysians cannot take lightly the utter abandonment of the clear-cut constitutional and nation-building principle declared by the Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and backed up by the constitutional, political and legal history of the past four decades, that Malaysia is not an Islamic state but a secular state with Islam as the official religion.
Is the Prime Minister prepared to listen and not just to lecture the ACCCIM on the issue of an Islamic State in Malaysia?
The ACCCIM represents 24,000 Malaysian Chinese companies, individuals and trade associations in the country. I call on the Prime Minister to conduct an opinion poll of the 24,000 members of the ACCCIM as to whether they want the government to retract the September 29 declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state and revert Malaysia to the 44-year nation-building principle of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious state with Islam as the official religion.
If Mahathir is not prepared to officially commission such an opinion poll among the ACCCIM members, may be the ACCCIM should conduct such a survey among its members and convey to the Prime Minister the result of such a poll and survey, as part of the ACCCIM’s contribution to complement the government’s efforts to promote economic growth and strengthen the business sector.