“No to 929” and the defence of the 46-year constitutional compact of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion is the primary theme in the next general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): If Terengganu PAS Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is right that Terengganu became an Islamic state when Pas assumed power after winning the general election in 1999, then this is a clear breach of the Barisan Alternative 1999 general election common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” which made no reference whatsoever to the establishment of an Islamic state, whether at the Federal or any state level.
Hadi never made this claim when the DAP was still in the Barisan Alternative; and although the DAP has left the Barisan Alternative on September 22, 2001 because of differences over the Islamic State issue, Hadi’s announcement in the Terengganu State Assembly yesterday nevertheless came as a surprise – and the other Barisan Alternative member parties are clearly called upon to make a public stand whether they had agreed to Terengganu becoming an Islamic state after the 1999 general election.
In an interview with New Sunday Times, Hadi said that “non-Muslims would not reject Pas if they understood that an Islamic government was fair to non-Muslims and could rule effectively”.
It is sad that Hadi does not grasp the fundamental objection to an Islamic state in Malaysia, that it is not because one is anti-Islam or because of prejudices against the religion, but for three basic reasons, firstly, that Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious nation; secondly, the system of governance must be based on citizenship and not religion; and thirdly, the fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and 1963 Malaysia agreement that Malaysia is democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
On these three grounds, Hadi’s position is as unacceptable as the “929 declaration” of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
Last month, addressing a special seminar co-organised by the Gerakan-led Penang State Government, Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Malaysia is an Islamic state and was one long before Mahathir’s "929 declaration" nineteen months ago.
Abdullah’s position is as baseless and unfounded as Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” and Hadi’s justification for an Islamic state in Malaysia.
It is a matter of grave concern that the “929 Declaration” has resulted in snowballing instances of creeping attempts to move Malaysia towards an Islamic state such as:
The only way to end the creeping attempts to nudge Malaysia towards an Islamic state is for Malaysians to take a clear and united stand, particularly in the next general election, rejecting the “929 Declaration” and defending the 46-year constitutional compact and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
The “No to 929” stand and the defence of the 46-year constitutional compact of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion must therefore be the primary theme in the next general election
This is the centennial of the birthday of Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. There is no doubt that if Tunku is still with us today, he would have been in the fore-front spearheading the "No to 929 Campaign" with Hussein Onn as his second-in-command - if the third Prime Minister is also alive today.
On his 80th birthday, on Feb. 8, 1983, Tunku reminded all the Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders, including Mahathir, at a dinner hosted by Barisan Nasional “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state” – a theme which was publicly endorsed by the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, a few days later.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman