Keng Yaik should remember Tunku’s injunction 20 years ago to all Barisan Nasional leaders “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state” and ask the Gerakan national delegates conference this weekend to retract the “929 Declaration” which  arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declared that Malaysia was  an Islamic state

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(PenangTuesday): Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik bragged  yesterday that if Karpal Singh and I re-contest in Penang in the next general election, Gerakan will “get rid of them”,  accusing us of “consorting with the devil (PAS)”. (Nanyang)

Why this  sudden oratorical pyrotechnics by Keng Yaik against Karpal and myself when the general election will only be called after  Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has taken over as Prime Minister from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who will step down in October?

The reason is quite simple. Keng Yaik is staging his pyrotechnics  for the benefit of  the Gerakan National Delegates Conference this weekend as, like “a thief with a guilty conscience”, he wants to distract attention from the fact that it was at the Gerakan national delegates conference two years ago on Sept. 29, 2001 that the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional  “929 Declaration” that Malaysia was an Islamic State was made by Mahathir with Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leadership being the first to give swift and opportunistic support.

It is coming to two years since Gerakan provided the platform and became the first Barisan Nasional component party to give Mahathir and UMNO the full endorsement to make a tectonic shift in nation-building by deviating from the 1957 “social contract” of the major communities and the fundamental  Merdeka Constitutional principle that  Malaysia shall be  a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.

In these two years, Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leadership should have ample time to realize the  far-reaching implications of the “929 Declaration” and  the grave  error of their betrayal of  Gerakan’s own founding principle for over three decades that Malaysia was established  as  a secular and not an Islamic state.

Instead of trying to distract attention from  the Gerakan’s opportunistic and unprincipled support for  the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic  State by making  personal attacks on Karpal and myself, Keng Yaik should be honest with the Malaysian people and explain in his presidential speech at the Gerakan delegates conference why he had led  Gerakan to betray the fundamental  founding principles of the nation since 1957 and Gerakan since 1968.

If Keng Yaik has doubts as to whether the 1968  founding Gerakan principle stands for a secular  Malaysia and not an Islamic state, he should invite the founding President of Gerakan, Professor Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, to the Gerakan National Delegates Conference this weekend to give a full exposition.

Keng Yaik was being doubly opportunistic and irresponsible when he persists in his lies that the DAP had supported the Islamic State objective of PAS.

The  DAP’s stand on the Islamic state issue had always been constant, consistent and principled in the past 37 years, whether before, during or after the DAP’s participation in the Barisan Alternative.

The DAP helped to establish the Barisan Alternative (BA)  with PAS, Keadilan and Parti Rakyat Malaysia in 1999 with the sole objective to crush the political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional and end its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority to advance the objectives as spelt out in the 1999 general election BA common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” which had nothing to do with PAS’ objective of an Islamic State. 

Immediately after the 1999 general election, DAP had wanted the BA to address the people’s concerns about the Islamic State issue but we found no support from the other BA component parties despite persistent attempts by the DAP in 2000.  As a result, DAP decided to engage PAS in direct discussion on the issue in 2001, where we proposed a five-point position for Barisan Alternative on the Islamic State issue. 

When talks broke down between the DAP and PAS leaders on the DAP’s five-point “No Islamic State” formula for the  BA, DAP was left with no choice but to pull out of the opposition front. 

The DAP’s five-point ”No Islamic State” proposal for the BA position were: 

  • That the 1999 BA Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia”, while respecting the different ideological positions of component parties, binds every party during the duration of the BA to a commitment to uphold and respect the fundamental principles and basic structures of the Malaysian Constitution and to give  the  assurance that there would be no radical change to the Malaysian Constitution such as for the establishment of an Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu  or Christian state. Any effort by any component party to pursue the establishment of an Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu  or Christian state will be against the BA Manifesto.
  • A clear reiteration that under the BA Manifesto, a vote for BA is a vote for democracy, justice and good governance and not a vote for an Islamic State  and PAS agrees that in the duration of the BA, PAS would at all levels of the party join forces with other BA parties to strive for “A Just Malaysia” and not for an Islamic State
  • BA Presidential Council to be given prior notice of any proposed enactment or measure in the Kelantan and Terengganu PAS  state governments which could impinge on the sensitivities of the different religions, communities and political parties to allow for fullest consultation and agreement.
  • A special BA committee to be set up to ensure that controversial or sensitive pronouncements or statements affecting religious and other rights which are against the BA manifesto are only made after prior consultation and to deal with cases of infraction.
  • Although PAS is committed to the objective of an Islamic State,  it accepts the fact that in a plural society like Malaysia, the establishment of an Islamic State is not suitable  or practicable.

The PAS leadership were prepared to accept Points 3 and 4 but not Points 1, 2 and 5.

From the full endorsement given by Keng Yaik and the Gerakan to the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state, it would appear that Gerakan would not be able to accept all the five points of the DAP’s “No Islamic State” formula – with suitable modifications in Points 3 and 4 where all reference to Barisan Alternative is substituted by reference to Barisan Nasional. 

Keng Yaik should not only explain why he had led Gerakan to betray the “social contract” and founding principles of the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 and the founding principles of the Gerakan in 1968, he should also explain why he had forgotten the injunction specifically given to him and all other Barisan Nasional leaders by Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman at  the latter’s  80th birthday grand dinner specially hosted by the Barisan Nasional on Feb. 8, 1983 “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state”.

For the 2003 Gerakan National Deleages Conference this weekend, Keng Yaik should remember Tunku’s injunction 20 years ago to all Barisan Nasional leaders “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state” and ask the Gerakan national delegates conference to retract the “929 Declaration” which  arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declared that Malaysia was  an Islamic state by returning to the founding principles of the 46-year Merdeka Constitution and 33-year Gerakan.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman