Exactly a year ago, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made
the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional “929 Declaration” at the
Gerakan national assembly that Malaysia is an Islamic State – in total
disregard of the 45-year fundamental constitutional principle and
nation-building cornerstone entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the
social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic,
secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but
Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
The first to support Mahathir’s declaration on Sept. 29 last year that
Malaysia is an Islamic State was none other than the Gerakan President, Datuk
Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik who had only a week earlier attacked the DAP in the
Sarawak state general election for “betraying” our principles and
convictions in “aiding and abetting” PAS in the establishment of an Islamic
State! Not to be
outdone, MCA President, Datuk Seri Ling Liong Sik also immediately gave full and
unreserved support to the “929 Declaration”, coining the oxymoron that Malaysia is a “secular Islamic State”.
Malaysia would today be set on the irreversible
path of an Islamic State if not for the clear and unequivocal opposition of the
DAP to the “929
Declaration” of Mahathir. In fact, the DAP is the only political voice,
whether in government or
opposition, in the past one year to come forward to defend the 45-year
Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that
Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state – whether
ala-PAS or ala-UMNO.
Last Monday, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung told Parliament
that the DAP’s “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s
Awareness pamphlet was not seditious but he did not have the decency, humility
or honesty to openly apologise for the gross abuse of police powers in the past
three months in launching five police actions in arresting 32 DAP leaders and
activists in Ipoh, Port Dickson, Bentong and Klang under the Sedition Act for
distributing the “No to 929” literature.
But Chor was downright outrageous when he spouted the nonsense that although
the ‘No to 929” pamphlet was not seditious, distributing it could be
seditious – which was also most irresponsible and
mischievous in trying to falsely label the “No to 929” campaign as
anti-Malay and anti-Islam and most defamatory of Malaysian
leaders like Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman who had repeatedly
reminded Barisan Nasional leaders in his lifetime not to “turn Malaysia into
an Islamic State”.
The DAP’s “No to 929”
campaign cannot be seditious because it is a nationalist and patriotic campaign
to uphold and defend the 45-year Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and
the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is
not an Islamic State.
If the DAP’s “No to 929” campaign is seditious, then Malaysia has a
seditious Constitution, three seditious Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun
Razak and Tun Hussein Onn and a seditious judiciary for they had all
been united by the common stand that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia
is not an Islamic state.
In fact, all the founding leaders of the Barisan Nasional component parties
and all the past MCA Presidents, whether Tan Cheng Lock, Lim Chong Eu, Tan Siew
Sin, Lee San Choon, Neo Yee Pan or Tan
Koon Suan (whatever their differences or political rights and wrongs) had all
one common bond – that
Malaysia was a secular nation with
Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state!
The first Chief Minister of Penang, Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee, who recently passed away on National Day at the age of 91, was one of the architects of secular Malaysia. He was one of the five members of the Cobbold Commission formed jointly by the British and Malayan governments in 1962 to ascertain the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak on the proposal to establish Malaysia, comprising Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.
One of the reservations of the people of Sabah and Sarawak about the formation of Malaysia was whether the new federation would become an Islamic state. As a result, the British members of the Cobbold Commission recommended that Islam should not be made the national religion for Sabah and Sarawak.
However, Wong Pow Nee and Ghazali Shafie, the other Malayan member of the Cobbold Commission, gave the assurance and guarantee that the 1957 Merdeka Constitution on the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation would in no way “jeopardize” the secular character of Malaysia.
How can the present generation of Barisan Nasional leaders, and in particular Keng Yaik and Liong Sik, so irresponsibly abrogate such a solemn constitutional guarantee and undertaking that Malaysia is not an Islamic state although Islam is the official religion of the country?
In the past year, Malaysians can see the adverse effects of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state. The sharp and continued drop in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Malaysia is not unrelated to the 929 Declaration.
In the past week, Malaysia suffered two major international reverses detrimental to efforts to promote Malaysia as an attractive international investment and tourist destination – the United States blacklist of Malaysia as one of the 15 “terrorist-risk” states from October 1 and Canada’s imposition of visa requirement for Malaysian visitors in violation of the Commonwealth “spirit”, all because of the branding of the image of Malaysia as a terrorist state, which is not helped by the 929 Declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic State.
The UMNO newspaper, New Sunday Times, today carried an article by the former editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia Johan Jaafar entitled “When State-sponsored firebrands are just as confusing to Muslims” which shows that even moderate Muslims in the country are getting worried about the increasing intolerance in the country a year after the “929 Declaration”.
Referring to the some of the speakers on national TV and on the lecture circuits, Johan wrote:
“To these speakers, everything should be ‘Islamised' so as to look Islam or at least has the feel of ‘Islam-ness.' Nothing escapes their attention. As far as ‘Islamisation' is concerned, the whole exercise is not just about menerapkan nilai-nilai Islam (inculcating Islamic values) but mengislamkan nilai-nilai (‘Islamis-ing' the values).
”Many of the so-called Muslim scholars on TV and in the lecture circuits made it their personal jihad to question anything that is remotely perceived as deviation to the making of a perfect man — an insan kamil — free from the earthly vices lesser mortals like you and I are quite capable of committing.”
Commenting that these speakers have “perfected the art of bashing the West” - “Nothing good apparently came from there” – the writer observed:
“Interestingly, these speakers are not guru pondok or those who came from the madrasah. They are mostly Western educated. They are not even sympathisers of Pas…
”Like many equally fiery Pas speakers, they too quoted freely from the Quran and the Hadith. The only distinctive thing is, many of them are graduates from the land of the infidels they so despise.”
Elsewhere in his column, the writer said that these “Western-educated” ulama of UMNO trotted out to compete with the PAS ulamas “are neither moderate nor liberal” and noted: “The only noticeable difference from their PAS counterpart is their attire. These are the new brand of State-sponsored firebrands”.
All these intolerances will only be the beginning if Malaysia embarks on the irreversible road of an Islamic State, even of the “929 Declaration” variety.
Malaysians must not be bamboozled in the next general election
into believing that the only way to forestall the
“extremist” Islamic State of PAS is to support the “moderate” Islamic
State of UMNO – but to remember the injunction of Tunku Abdul Rahman that
Malaysia must not be turned into an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS,
and continue as a secular nation with Islam fully respected as the official
I am confident that if we have
10 to 20 years, Malaysians will have time to understand the issues at stake and
will speak loud and clear their rejection of the 929 Declaration that Malaysia
is an Islamic State. However, we do not have the luxury or comfort of 10 to 20
years. We may not even have one
year. We are in a race against time, for the next general election which could
be held within a year would be a crucial and critical test as to whether the
Barisan Nasional can win a landslide victory to claim a national endorsement for
the “929 Declaration” and embark Malaysia
on the irreversible road of an Islamic State.
When the DAP launched the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s
Awareness Campaign in Penang in May this year, more than 99 per cent of the
people in Penang and Malaysia were
ignorant about what “929” meant
and why it is important to say “No to 929”.
After some four months of the nation-wide campaign – and thanks partly to
the help in the national publicity by the police because of their gross abuses
of power in the wrongful and false arrests of DAP leaders and criminalizing
legitimate and peaceful political and constitutional activity, we have made some headway in creating national
awareness about the importance of the “No to 929” campaign.
However, we have still a very long way to go as more than 85 per cent of the people have not yet been
reached by the DAP’s “No to 929” campaign.
If there is any state which can provide the leadership to the nation-wide movement to protect and uphold the 45-year Merdeka Constitution, the social contract and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State, whether UMNO Islamic State or PAS Islamic State, then it is Penang.
For this reason, I wish tonight to make a clarion call to the people of Penang to keep up the tradition and motto of “Penang Leads” to be in the national forefront to save Malaysia by saying “No to 929” in the next general election to defend and uphold the 45-year constitutional legacy of the nation’s founding fathers that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State.