Ling said yesterday it was solely a matter of interpretation whether Malaysia was looked upon as an Islamic or secular state.
He said: “Malaysia, under the present constitution, is not a theocratic state and therefore, can also be called a secular state.
“Many things can be called by more than one name… a rose in English is a rose, in Mandarin it is mei-kwei, in Malay bunga mawar and in Tamil roja but they all mean the same thing.”
Ling could not have used a more inappropriate comparison for his argument to justify his blind and unthinking support for the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan annual delegates’ conference on Sept. 29 that Malaysia is an Islamic state under UMNO.
A nation, particularly plural Malaysia which is undergoing a dynamic process of nation-building whose direction is subject to all sorts of influences, including preserving its secular character or greater Islamisation of all aspects of national life or even heading towards a full-fledged Islamic state, cannot be compared to a rose.
A rose remains a rose, whatever different name it is called in diverse languages, as it remains the same entity; while a nation, particularly plural Malaysia still at the early stage of nation-building, is constantly developing and changing and what it is to become is greatly determined by what is the national consensus as to its character - i.e. whether it continues as a secular or becomes an Islamic state!
There is no doubt that a general recognition of Malaysia as an Islamic state when for 44 years it was indisputably held as a secular state represents a sea-change in atittude with far-reaching consequences for the character of the Malaysian nation-building process in the coming decades.
Ling’s statement “Malaysia, under the present constitution, is not a theocratic state and therefore, can also be called a secular state” is most dangerous and highly subversive of the 44-year constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone that Malaysia is not an Islamic state but a secular state.
In the first place, is Ling aware that in endorsing Mahathir’s declaration
that Malaysia is an Islamic state, he has repudiated the declaration
and assurance of Bapa Malaysia and the nation’s first Prime Minister,
Tunku Abdul Rahman in the Legislative Council in 1958 that Malaysia is
not an Islamic state. Has Ling the mandate of the MCA Central Committee
and the MCA national conference to repudiate Tunku Abdul Rahman’s declaration
and assurance that Malaysia is not an Islamic state?
Secondly, is Ling aware that if he asks the PAS leaders, he would be told that PAS is also against a theocratic state but wants an Islamic state. Will Ling then also support the Islamic state advocated by PAS?
Ling should not defend the indefensible - his blind and unthinking support for the Islamic State declaration of Mahathir completely without mandate either from the MCA Central Committee or party national conference - and should requisition an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council to retract his endorsement that Malaysia is an Islamic state and to revert to the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and cornerstone since 1957 that Malaysia is a secular and not an Islamic state.