No reason why with 14 million Muslims and 9 million non-Muslims, Malaysia should abandon Tunku’s nation-building formula of a secular state with Islam as official religion to become an Islamic state when Indonesia, with the world’s largest Muslim population of over 200 million Muslims, is a secular republic with five officially-recognised religions
Media Conference Statement (2)
- when launching the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations and the “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign in Bukit Mertajam parliamentary constituency
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has called on Malaysians to protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman. One of the most important principle of Tunku’s formula of nation-building and racial tolerance is the fundamental nation-building compact reached by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of the nation’s independence known as the “social contract” and written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, multi-racial, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
The country and people will be celebrating our 46th National Day on Sunday, a nation-wide celebration of our nationalism and patriotism. Patriotism however is not just flag-flying and waving, or the corrupt, the dishonest and unpatriotic can get away with their anti-national deeds by just waving the biggest flag or sponsor the flying and waving of the most number of flags in their respective areas.
True nationalism and patriotism on the occasion of the 46th National Day is the reaffirmation of our love and loyalty to Malaysia to make it a better place for its citizens and our children and children’s children, now and in the future, whether 10, 20 or 30 years’ time.
This is why the DAP has chosen to celebrate the 46th National Day Celebrations with the “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign, finding inspiration from Mahathir’s call to Malaysians to protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman.
It has come as a surprise to me that there are many Malaysians who seem to have resigned themselves to accept that Malaysia is an Islamic state, on the ground that they have no choice – and that the only thing to be worried about is the PAS version of an extremist Islamic state.
This is a big mistake, for there is no reason why with 14 million Muslims and 9 million non-Muslims, Malaysia should abandon the Tunku’s nation-building formula of a secular state with Islam as official religion to become an Islamic State when Indonesia, with the world’s largest Muslim population of over 200 million Muslims, is a secular republic with five officially-recognised religions.
According to the 2000 Census, the religions of Malaysia’s 23.2 million population, comprising 65.1 percent bumiputras, 26 per cent Chinese, 7.7 percent Indians and 1.2 per cent others, are as follows:
Indonesia has a population of 235 million people, with the following breakdown in their religions – Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, others 1%.
If Indonesia, with the largest Muslim population in the world exceeding 200 million, or more than 14 times the Muslim population of 14 million in Malaysia, remains a secular republic with five officially-recognised religions, why must Malaysia forsake Tunku’s nation-building formula, the “social contract”, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether Islamic state ala-UMNO or ala-PAS?
Another reason that has been used for claiming that Malaysia is an Islamic state is that Malaysia will be playing host to the 10th Organisation Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Putrajaya in October, before Mahathir resigns as Prime Minister.
This is most mistaken. There is no pre-condition for a country hosting an OIC Summit to be an Islamic state nor does Malaysia’s hosting the 10th OIC Summit make it an Islamic State, just as Senegal’s hosting of the 6th OIC Summit in Dakar in December 1991 had not affected its constitutional position as a “secular republic” despite having 94 per cent Senegalese belonging to the Muslim faith.
Many OIC countries, like Turkey, Mali, Indonesia, Guinea, Niger and Saddam’s Iraq, had organized important OIC conferences but this had not affected their status as a secular state and not an Islamic state.
The DAP’s “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign is to make Malaysians understand that the Tunku’s nation-building formula, which had the full support of the second and third Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, was not anti-religion, anti-God or anti-Islam, anti-Buddhist, anti-Christianity, anti-Hinduism – as there is nothing contradictory in maintaining that the state should be secular but the society and people should be religious.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman