Today, nobody is talking about writing the political obituary for Mahathir in the next general elections, which is expected in 18 months time in 2003 although there is increasing speculation that it could be held next year, and the target of the political obituary pieces seems to have shifted from UMNO and the Barisan Nasional to the Opposition.
But the greatest issue in the next general elections is not just whose political obituary will be written, whether the Barisan Nasional, the Barisan Alternative or the DAP, but whether it is going to be the obituary for the democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia.
This is because the nation is facing the greatest threat in history to the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis of the Malaysian Constitution and nation-building, and the next general elections, whether 2004, 2003 or even 2002 will decide whether Malaysians are going to successfully defend a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia or there is going to be a tectonic shift in Malaysian nation-building moving inevitably towards an Islamic state.
This, in the ultimate analysis, was the reason why the DAP decided on September 22, 2001 to pull out of the Barisan Alternative, because PAS had deviated from its fundamental commitment in the establishment of the Barisan Alternative binding all component members to respect and uphold the cardinal features of the Malaysian Constitution - which would mean the preservation of the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and no Islamic state for the country, whether now or the future.
DAP, and all Malaysians committed to the preservation of a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia, are in a race against time, for we have only 18 months or even less before the great verdict on the future direction of Malaysian nation-building will have to be made by Malaysians in the next general elections.
At present 99.9 per cent of the Malaysians are not aware of the far-reaching implications of the declaration by the Prime Minister that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday that Malaysia has no intention of amending its Constitution or laws to prevent non-Muslims from practising their respective faiths.
Speaking at the opening of the 12th Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) congress, Abdullah said the recent statement by Mahathir that Malaysia is an Islamic state was not “a statement of intent” as the Prime Minister’s statement was “a fact and the reality that exists”.
The overwhelming majority of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, will not agree that Malaysia is today “in fact and reality” an Islamic State, especially when for 44 years of Malaysian nation-building, there has been no dispute whether in constitutional, political or legal history that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion.
In these circumstances, assurances by government leaders that there would be no change of the status quo, whether with regard to the present status of the Constitution or freedom of religion, are not very reassuring.
Abdullah should fully explain whether the government has adopted the
policy of the full implementation of the Islamic state as its “final
objective”, without a time frame fixed to it, as stated very clearly in
the recent official publication of the Information Ministry “Malaysia adalah
sebuah Negara Islam”, which made two important pronouncements of intent:
For some time, for instance, there has been a school of thought that Malaysia can establish an Islamic state without any amendment to the present Constitution, but through the creative interpretation of the present provisions in the Constitution.
This pose another area of threat to the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis of Malaysian nation building if UMNO and the Barisan Nasional come around to this school of thought - that it is possible to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia without amending the Federal Constitution.
Before the DAP can instil and impart a sense of urgency and national crisis to Malaysians, DAP leaders, members and supporters must be convinced of the crisis and the need for a sense of urgency.
This calls for a new mindset among DAP leaders, members and supporters to prepare for the next general elections to defend the greatest threat in nation’s history to the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis of the Malaysian Constitution and nation-building, as we have 18 months or less to reach out to the 99.9 per cent of the Malaysians who are not aware that a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia is facing the greatest test and crisis in over four decades of the nation’s history.
Starting from the DAP leadership, all ranks of the DAP must be prepared to go on a full political mobilisation in the race against time to successfully defend the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis of Malaysian Constitution and nation-building in the next general elections, whether in 18 or 12 months’ time.
The DAP Central Executive Committee must set the example. It must be prepared to meet, not just once in two months as provided by the Party Constitution, but even once a week, to be emulated by all DAP State Committees and branches - to plan, execute, monitor and review a full political mobilisation programme so that come the next general elections, 99.9 per cent of Malaysians who today are still not aware of the crisis of nation-building have got the message and know the importance of their vote to preserve the democratic, secular and multi-religious basis and characfer of Malaysia, not only for now, but for all generations to come.