Let this not be the last Christmas under the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of Malaysia as a secular multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Happy Christmas to all Christians and all other Malaysians who share in the spirit of festivity and goodwill of all the important religious occasions in the country as part and parcel of our proud national heritage.
Let this not be the last Christmas under the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of Malaysia as a secular multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
There are powerful forces which want the next general election to be held in a matter of months to abandon the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” in favour of a new national compact of Malaysia as an Islamic State, the only difference being whether it should be Islamic State ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.
For 46 years, the Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a secular multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State was the mainstream nation-building consensus and agenda as enshrined in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, 1963 Malaysia Agreement and 1970 Rukunegara – but overnight, it faces the risk of being consigned to the dustbin of history, with very little public awareness and consciousness.
Former Finance Minister, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah recently said that Malaysian nation-building is at the “crossroad in our history”, sounding the warning that Malaysians have to decide “whether we continue to build our nation according to its original plan, or to allow a new architect to build a ‘twin tower’ on a foundation that was meant only to support a single and solitary structure since this nation was born”.
One way to reaffirm Malaysia’s 46-year Merdeka “social contract” is for Putrajaya, the new administrative capital, to have not only a very impressive Putrajaya mosque, it should also have places of worship of other religions, like Christian, Buddhist and Hindu churches and temples, to give concrete meaning to Malaysia’s multi-religious character and the first principle of Rukunegara on “Belief in God”.
Malaysians must be conscious of their constitutional birthrights to defend and uphold the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” and to build inter-religious and inter-civilisational understanding, tolerance and respect in plural Malaysia. Let us work towards the establishment of a National Inter-Religious Council, which is long overdue for representatives of all the major religions in the country to come together to promote inter-religious and inter-civilisational understanding, tolerance and respect not only in Malaysia but also in the world.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman