Triple critique of PAS Islamic State blueprint - violation of 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”, incompatible with democracy in placing it beyond criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction and most worrisome of all, marks the latest escalation in the UMNO-PAS competition to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): PAS Islamic State blueprint made public by the PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang warrants a triple critique - violation of 1999 Barisan Alternative common manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”, incompatible with democracy in placing it beyond criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction and most worrisome of all, marks the latest escalation in the UMNO-PAS competition to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state
The PAS Islamic State blueprint has made the BA common manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” totally irrelevant, in violating one of its most basic undertakings – the commitment of all subscribing parties to uphold the fundamental principles of the 46-year-old Merdeka Constitution 1957, one of which is that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO.
The 1999 BA Common Manifesto has been totally repudiated by the PAS blueprint, “The Islamic State Document”, which states that “the determining characteristic” of an Islamic State is the supremacy of Syari’ah law, nullifying the BA common manifesto commitment on the supremacy of the Merdeka Constitution based on the “social contract” reached by the major communities on the attainment of the nation’s independence and entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara of a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
Assurances that the existing Federal Constitution will be accepted with the necessary amendments are meaningless when one such amendment involves the destruction of the very foundation of the existing constitution in replacing the supremacy of the Federal Constitution with the supremacy of Syariah law.
The first rights to be affected in the PAS Islamic State blueprint are citizenship rights, starting with the bar on non-Muslims from being the Prime Minister of the country, which would be extended to other key and strategic posts such as the Chief Justice, the head of security forces, etc. In addition to the dichotomy of Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras, there will be a new dichotomy of Muslims and non-Muslims. Instead of the rule by Malaysians over Malaysians, there will be the rule of Muslims over non-Muslims.
The PAS Islamic State blueprint also makes nonsense of the numerous statements and assurances which had been made by PAS leaders. In May 2000, for instance, the Mursyidul Am PAS Dato’ Nik Aziz Nik Mat gave a highly-praised assurance in a dialogue with the Conference of Churches in Malaysia in Petaling Jaya that PAS believed not in an Islamic state (negara Islam) but in an Islamic community (masyarakat Islam), accepting the more limited role of the Islamic religion in a democratic plural country, especially with a non-Muslim population of just under half its 22 million people.
The most recent was the BBC Hardtalk interview at the end of September this year with the PAS Vice President Datuk Mustapha Ali who, when asked about the PAS Islamic State, said that the term Islamic state was never mentioned in the PAS party constitution, that what the party meant was that “society should abide by the good values that Islam stands for” and that it was only the media that carried the term “to frighten the non-Muslims”.
May be, the statement made by the Deputy Mursyidul Am PAS, Ustaz Idris Omar at the Islamic State blueprint launching ceremony yesterday throws some light why the situation in November 2003 had changed from May 2000 when Nik Aziz gave the assurance to the Conference of Churches in Malaysia and September 2003 when Mustapha Ali gave his interview with BBC Hardtalk.
Harakahdaily online reported Idris as saying “keadaan dan suasana berubah-ubah dan berbeza dari semasa ke semasa, justeru pelaksanaan Islam memerlukan perbincangan dan kajian berterusan”.
Idris said: “Suasana pada 2004 berbeza dengan suasana 2005. Juga mungkin berbeza apabila menjelang 2006, maka tindak-tanduk pemerintah perlu mengikut kemaslahatan semua pihak.”
Explaining PAS’ acceptance of the existing Federalism concept under its Islamic State concept, Hadi said in states where the majority of the population are Muslims, Islamic laws can be implemented. In states where non-Muslims form the majority, it will be up to the non-Muslim party ruling the state but at the same time, the non-Muslim leader would allow syariah to be applied to Muslims there.
As Muslims represents the majority in Malaysia – the 2000 Census reports that Malaysians are made up of 60.4% Muslims, 19.2% Buddhists, 9.1% Christians, 6.3% Hindus and 2.6% Confucianism/Taoism/other traditional Chinese religion – doesn’t this logically follow that PAS is not just advocating a two-track objective of Islamic states for the northern Muslim states, but also for the whole of Malaysia? Why isn’t PAS saying so?
The second critique is that the :PAS Islamic State blueprint is not compatible with democracy.
At the PAS Melaka forum “Keharmonian Kaum dari Kacamata Bernegara” in Malacca on 25th June 2000, I had asked whether the political Islam of PAS is compatible with democracy, pluralism, human rights, women’s rights, cultural diversity and modernity.
I specifically asked what was PAS response to the criticism that it is not compatible with democracy and not really committed to the system of parliamentary democracy, but only believed in “one man, one vote, one time” and will use electoral politics to “hijack democracy” as power-sharing is just the strategy and mechanism to achieve the ultimate objective, the establishment of an Islamic State.
An answer seems to have been provided by the PAS Islamic State document, which placed its Islamic State concept beyond the pale of human criticism by equating it with Allah’s injunction. The PAS Islamic State document made the following assertions about its concept of an Islamic State:
“Any attempt to say that it is not just, tantamounts to saying that Allah is unjust in His injunction. The option is actually divinely derived and it is not an option provided by PAS. Any contention in this regards, amounts to contesting the divine wisdom.”
If the PAS concept of an Islamic State is divine in origin, and to criticize it is to criticize Allah and not just to criticize PAS leaders, how could the PAS Islamic State once established be criticised, changed or replaced without going against Allah? In fact, a vote against PAS and its Islamic State will become a vote against Allah and therefore blasphemy and treason.
How can such a concept be compatible with democracy?
The biggest worry, however, must be the third critique – that it marked the latest escalation in the spiral of competition between UMNO and PAS after the 1999 general election to Islamise the country and turn Malaysia into an Islamic State.
Immediately after the 1999 general election, I sounded my greatest fear and warned of “a spiral of competitive Islamisation policies” between UMNO and PAS.
I had said:
“The danger of the historic electoral setback for UMNO in the 1999 general election and the emergence of PAS as the dominant Opposition in Parliament with 27 seats and a very marginalised DAP with ten seats is that Parliament in the next five years will principally become the battleground between UMNO and PAS for the hearts and minds of the Malays in the Malay heartland, resulting in a spiral of Islamisation policies - threatening a democratic secular Malaysia and sidelining all other great issues of the Malaysian people.
“There are four circumstances where such a spiral of competitive Islamisation policies between UMNO and PAS to take the centre stage of Malaysian politics in the next five years could be avoided:
My worst fears four years ago have been proved right. This is the time for all Malaysians who do not want to see any further compromise and jeopardy of Malaysia’s nation-building founding constitutional principles, which will prejudice its future economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to take stock of the situation and come forward to assert their citizenship rights to put a halt to the spiral of competitive Islamisation between PAS and UMNO, by clearly reaffirming support for a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman