(Penang, Friday): In
his regular “Benchmark” column in the New
Straits Times yesterday, former
Federal Court judge, a professor at
the International Islamic University
and currently Suhakam Deputy Chairman, Tan Sri Harun Hashim, made two startling
made these two startling statements when discussing the declaration by the Prime
Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national delegates’
conference on September 29 last year ( the “929 declaration”)
that Malaysia is an Islamic state, giving his views as
how the “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state could be
entrenched and put beyond a shadow of doubt.
column is “startling” for this
is the first time that Harun has come out with a public statement endorsing that
Malaysia is an Islamic state, which not only
runs counter to the sheaf of historical constitutional documents ,
stemming back to the Reid Constitution Commission Report 1957, the White Paper
on the Reid Constitution Proposals 1957 and the Cobbold Commision Report 1963,
but also all legal precedents, including the decision of the
highest court of the land in
Che Omar bin Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor (1988) ruling that
Malaysia is a secular and not an Islamic state.
the judgment of a five-man
Federal Court panel, the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas held that
the Constitution and the legal system are “secular” and held that the
meaning of the expression “Islam” or “Islamic religion” in Article 3
“means only such acts as relate to rituals and ceremonies”.
said that “There can be no doubt
that Islam is not just a mere collection of dogmas and rituals but it is a
complete way of life covering all fields of human activities, may they be
private or public, legal, political, economic, social, cultural, moral or
judicial” but rejected the
contention that the terms
“Islam” or “Islamic religion” in Article 3 is “an all-embracing
concept, as is normally
which consists not only the ritualistic aspect but also a comprehensive system
of life, including its jurisprudence and moral standard” as
this was not the meaning intended by the framers of the Constitution.
Abas’ judgment that Malaysia was a secular nation was in keeping with the
interpretation of his predecessor, the late Tun Mohamed Suffian Hashim who
in 1962 defined the scope of Islam in the constitution as being primarily for
ceremonial purposes, such as the permission for prayers to be offered in the
Islamic way on official public occasions such as the installation of the Yang di
Pertuan Agong, his birthday, Merdeka Day and other occasions.
second reason why I describe Harun’s
column as “startling” is
because of his proposal for the amendment of the Constitution to “finally
declare that the sources of the laws in Malaysia are the Quran and Sunnah”.
is not only against the various assurances issued by Barisan Nasional leaders
after the “929” declaration that there would not no change in the national
status quo but also no amendment to
the Constitution. Even more
serious, such a move would only open the way for the demand that the
Constitution must be amended all the way to declare the Quran and the Sunnah as
the sole supreme law of the land to supersede the 1957 Constitution if Malaysia
is to be a genuine Islamic state.
Hashim’s two startling statements to
concretise Mahathir’s 929 declaration should forewarn Malaysians that they
cannot be bystanders in the second great nation-building crisis in deciding
whether Malaysia preserves the 1957 Merdeka Constitution “social contract”
of a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation with
Islam as the official religion or jettison it to become
an Islamic state.
Hashim’s column confirms what DAP had been trying to tell Malaysians with
little effect in the past seven months - that the “929” declaration that
Malaysia is an Islamic state portends
a tectonic shift in nation-building in Malaysia with
far-reaching implications for the political, economic, social and
citizenship rights of all Malaysians and generations to come.
is why the DAP has launched the “No to 911, No to 929” People’s Awareness
Campaign to defend and uphold the 1957 Merdeka Constitution “social
contract” before it is too late, as the people has only the window of
opportunity of less than 12 months before the next general election to say loud
and clear “No” to the “929” declaration.