When the DAP Central Executive Committee took the decision to pull out of the Barisan Alternative on Sept. 22, it was in no way influenced by the Sept. 11 crimes against humanity or the then ongoing Sarawak state general elections, as the timing was pure coincidence with these two events.
However, with the Sept. 29 announcement of Mahathir that Malaysia is already an Islamic state, which was given instant blind and unthinking support by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, there are people who say that the DAP should not have taken the 922 decision as there is now no difference between UMNO and PAS as both stand for an Islamic state.
Such a view is most mistaken and misconceived. Mahathir has claimed that there is no need for any change to the Malaysian Constitution under UMNOís Islamic State while PAS President Datuk Fadzil Nor recently said that PAS is drafting its plan for an Islamic state which would be hand-delivered to Mahathir when it is completed. However, the indisputable fact is that UMNO and PAS adopt totally contradictory and irreconcilable positions on the Islamic state issue, each seeking to debunk the otherís claim.
This has resulted in the anomalous situation where DAP and PAS, while disagreeing on the Islamic State to the extent that the DAP had to pull out of the Barisan Alternative, take a common stand to reject the UMNO claim that Malaysia is already an Islamic state - but for completely different reasons.
PAS rejects the UMNO claim that Malaysia is an Islamic State, as explained by Fadzil Nor, because it lacks one of the prerequisites of an Islamic State, which is to place Syariah law as the supreme source of all laws in Malaysia, overriding the Merdeka Constitution of 1957.
DAP rejects Mahathirís declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state because the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a secular state had remained intact in the past 44 years, as there had been no amendment to the Constitution to abolish the secular basis of the Malaysian nation to replace it with an Islamic state.
That Malaysia is a secular and not an Islamic state is provided in the Constitution and reinforced by solemn guarantees given by Bapa Malaysia and first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman in Parliament in 1958 as well as assurances given to the people of Sarawak and Sabah in the negotiations for the formation of Malaysia in 1962. Furthermore, the highest court in the land has upheld the constitutional principle of Malaysia as a secular state via a strong five-man Federal Court decision in 1988.
The 911 terrorist attacks, resulting in the United States-led air strikes against Afghanistan on October 8 and which is now entering into the second week of daily aerial bombardments, have provided a vivid and true-life example as to how irresponsible, reckless and even dangerous on the part of the MCA and Gerakan Presidents to give blind and unthinking support to the UMNO declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state and to jettison the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a secular state.
As a result of the jihad declared by PAS on US air-strikes in Afghanistan and the Ďgreen-lightí to members to fight alongside Taliban forces, the Prime Ministerís religious adviser, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman, responded by declaring that only the government can declare a jihad or holy war.
PAS should reconsider its declaration of jihad as Malaysia is a multi-religious society and this has caused alarm and consternation among Malaysians, particularly non-Muslims, undermining not only national unity and cohesion but would also damage the nationís economic recovery efforts by driving away foreign investors and tourists.
We must always be mindful of the economic dimensions of the September 11 catastrophe which, according to a preliminary United Nations estimate would cause the staggering damage exceeding US350 billion to the world economy or one full percentage point of the global world economic growth, with the pre-attack projected growth of the global economy for the year ahead of 3 percent now been revised downwards to 2 percent.
Malaysiaís official 2001 growth forecast has also plummetted to 1% to 2% after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - the third government forecast for economic growth for this year, from the first estimate of 5% to 6% in last yearís budget presentation which was later revised downwards to 2% -3%. When Mahathir presents the 2002 budget in Parliament on Friday, there could be another adjustment to a lower forecast, as private economists project that the Malaysian economy could contract by up to 1% this year in the aftermath of the Terror Tuesday of Sept. 11.
However, DAP clearly rejects Abdul Hamidís statement that the Malaysian government can declare a jihad or holy war, as Malaysia does not have an Islamic government nor is the nation an Islamic state although the Constitution provides for Islam as the official religion.
Once MCA and Gerakan jettisons the 44-year constitutional principle
of a secular Malaysia and accepts the UMNO declaration that Malaysia is
an Islamic state, then it will give rise to two consquences:
Non-Muslim Malaysians cannot be denied their citizenship rights in determining whether Malaysia should remain true and faithful to the founding constitutional principle of the nation as a democratic secular Malaysia - but once the issue is transformed to what type of an Islamic state Malaysia should become, there is no room or place for input or participation by non-Muslim Malaysians!
DAP is the only political party in the nation which stands for a democratic, secular, tolerant, multi-religious and progressive Malaysia in the 21st century and this will be the thrust of the DAP campaign for the next general elections as whether Malaysia should be a democratic, secular, tolerant, multi-religious and progressive nation would be the greatest challenge facing Malaysians in the new era.