(Penang, Thursday): Just before coming
to the forum, there was the news report that the Muslim Scholars Association of
Malaysia (PUM) had issued a strong salvo against the Bar Council telling it not
to interfere in Islamic matters and it called on the government to amend the Legal Profession Act to
prevent the Bar Council from issuing statements concerning Islam.
The PUM declared
that it was against the freedom of expression supported by the Bar Council if it
included any individuals or organisations that are non-Islam speaking as they
like on Islamic matters.
This is the latest
development in the controversy sparked off by the PUM memorandum to the
Conference of Rulers urging action
against six writers for
and the institution of ulama.
and the institution of ulama.
This is a most
disturbing development with far-reaching consequences for democracy, human
rights and nation-building in a plural Malaysia - and raises the question
whether the opposition to the establishment of an Islamic State in Malaysia will
one day be equated with attempts to denigrate Islam and declared
impermissible in Malaysia although it is in no way anti-Islam.
Such a possibility
would have been regarded as “unthinkable” six months ago and it is an
indication of the tectonic shift in Malaysian nation-building in the past six
months that it is not that “unthinkable” ever since the unilateral
declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on September
29, 2001 that Malaysia is and always had been an Islamic state
decaration, PAS MPs told DAP MPs in
Parliament that the DAP was the only political party objecting to the
establishment of an Islamic State, as even all the other Barisan Nasional
component parties such as MCA, Gerakan and MIC, also endorsed Mahathir’s
declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic State.
declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state is a fundamental breach of the
44-year Social Contract reached by our forefathers from the three communities in
the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and reaffirmed by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak
in 1962 on the formation of Malaysia founding the nation as a democratic,
secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive state with Islam as the
official religion and not as an Islamic state.
For 44 years, the
mainstream nation-building agenda was to develop and sustain the democratic,
secular and multi-religious nature of the Malaysian Constitution and voices
calling for an Islamic state were at the periphery; but overnight, with
Mahathir’s declaration, the controversy over what type of an Islamic state
Malaysia should become has hijacked
the mainstream nation-building agenda.
In the past six
months, the DAP had been a lone
voice as if in the wilderness
seeking to draw the attention of Malaysians to the tectonic shift in the
nation-building process but we have found it very heavy-going as there had been
little awareness, and therefore concern and alarm, at the far-reaching
political, legal, socio-economic and citizenship implications for all Malaysians
when the 44-year democratic, secular and multi-religious nature of the
Constitution is jettisoned in favour of an Islamic state - whether ala-UMNO or
Malaysians who want
to defend the 44-year Social Contract for a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and
progressive Malaysia must be aware that they are in a race against time, for if
in the next general elections expected in 12 to 18 months, the Barisan Nasional
is given strong support, it would be regarded as a mandate to jettison the
44-year Social Contract and embark Malaysia on the road of an Islamic State.
All Malaysians and the
civil society should speak up to
preserve the 44-year democratic,
secular and multi-religious
constitution and not to allow it to be transformed into an Islamic State, as the
time for Malaysians to stand up to be counted in defence of the Malaysian
Social Contract is now and not after the next general elections - when it will
be too late.