(Kota Kinabalu, Wednesday): The DAP’s “No to 929” campaign is one of the issues in the Gaya by-election although it is not the premier issue, as there is not enough time to fully develop it with the limited time available in the by-election campaign.
There have been attempts to distort the “No to 929” campaign by painting it as a seditious, unconstitutional and anti-Islam campaign when it is nothing of the sort, and is in fact, a most Malaysian, patriotic and nationalist campaign to defend and uphold the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract”, the 20 Points and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State.
In fact, I dare say that if Bapa Malaysia and Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, and the founding Kadazandusum leaders of Malaysia, Tun Fuad Donald Stephens and Datuk G.S. Sundang had been alive today, they would be in the very forefront to spearhead the “No to 929” campaign, because it is not seditious, unconstitutional or anti-Islam but a perfectly Malaysian patriotic and nationalist campaign to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 20 Points and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement which brought Malaysia into being 39 years ago.
I have here four sets of documents to back my statement.
Firstly, the important speech by Tunku Abdul Rahman on his 80th birthday on 8th February 1983 at the grand dinner hosted by the Barisan Nasional, attended by all the top Barisan Nasional leaders including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, where Tunku’s most important message to the Barisan Nasional leaders was not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State. This was in fact the front-page headline in all the language newspapers the next day. The Star of 9th February 1983, for instance, carried the following front-page headline: “The Tunku Turns 80 – Don’t Make Malaysia An Islamic State: Tunku”. Tunku stressed that Malaysia was set up as a secular State with Islam as the official religion and this was enshrined in the Constitution, which must be respected and adhered to.
Secondly, the full public support to Tunku’s call to Barisan Nasional leaders not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State given by the third Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, four days later when celebrating his 61st birthday on 12th February 1983. This was the Star’s front-page headline on 13th February 1983: “Hussein Says No To Islamic State Too”. Hussein said it was “neither wise nor practical” to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State as Malaysia could still be functional as a secular state with Islam as its official religion.
Thirdly, the 1957 Reid Constitution Commission report, Paragraph 169, recommending the Constitution for Malaya on the attainment of independence, which made it very clear that Malaya is a secular state.
Fourthly, the Cobbold Commission Report 1962 on the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak on the proposed formation of Malaysia. One of the reasons for the reservations of the people of Sabah and Sarawak in supporting the formation of Malaysia was whether the new Federation would become an Islamic State. The British members of the Cobbold Commission recommended that the provision that Islam is the official religion should not be extended to Sabah and Sarawak but the Malayan government members gave the guarantee that such a provision would not jeopardise Malaysia’s character as a “secular state”.
Tun Fuad Donald Stephens was actively involved in the negotiations resulting in the formation of Malaysia, including the formulation of the Twenty Points which upheld the important provision of Malaysia as a secular state although Islam is the official religion, while Datuk G.S. Sundang, who also played a significant role in the formation of Malaysia, had insisted that Sabah must first gain independence before joining the Malaysia project.
This is why I said that if Fuad and Sundang, as well as Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn, had been alive today, they would be in the very forefront of the “No to 929” campaign to tell the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that he cannot unilaterally, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally abrogate the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone enshrined in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the social contract, the Twenty Points and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion of the nation but Malaysia is not an Islamic State of whatever description.
If a fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone solemnly agreed by the founding fathers of Malaya and Malaysia, the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans, four decades ago could be arbitrarily and unilaterally overturned as in the case of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, then there is no solemn undertaking or pledge by the Barisan Nasional government which could be trusted.
This may be why the solemn Barisan Nasional pledge in its 1994 general elections for a “Sabah Baru” where there would be no poverty, no illiteracy, no illegal immigrant, no phantom voter, no corruption, and a roof for every Sabahan by the year 2,000 has been completely forgotten and reneged.
The people of Gaya on Saturday should support the DAP on Saturday to show that they are equally concerned about the far-reaching implications of the “929 Declaration” by turning Malaysia into an Islamic State, which is clearly against the stand of the founding fathers of the nation like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Fuad Donald Stephens and Datuk Sundang.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman