I accept Keng Yaik’s challenge of a debate on “Islamic State” and proposes a series of nation-wide state-by-state trilingual  debate beginning after Hari Raya holidays in December and a Three No’s Debate Code of Ethics

Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaMonday): I welcome and accept the readiness and challenge  of the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik to take me on in a debate on the Islamic State issue as reported in Sin Chew Jit Poh and Malaysiakini yesterday. 

The details of the DAP-Gerakan debate on Islamic State will have to be worked out and agreed by both parties and I hereby appoint Ronnie Liu, DAP National Publicity Secretary and  my two political secretaries  Raymond Chong and Ean Yong Hian Wah as my personal representatives to discuss and finalise with Keng Yaik’s representatives all the details of the debate. 

I propose a series of nation-wide state-by-state debate, in all the states in the Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sarawak and Sabah, in three separate languages, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English, beginning after the Hari Raya holidays in December as this is an issue which concerns all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, in all states in the country.  I leave the total number of debates, where, in what language, when, the chair person or facilitator for each debate,  to be finalized by the representatives of both parties – although tentatively, we could agree on each side organizing half of the series.                                                                               

I also propose a Three No’s Code of Ethics for the DAP-Gerakan Islamic State debate series –  No personal attack, no race-baiting and no religious denigration: 

  • There should be no personal attack or character assassination as both sides must agree that  the purpose of the Islamic State debate series is not to score political points, whether personal or party, but to serve the highest purpose of enlightening  Malaysians as well as all political parties as to what is in the best interests of the multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysian people and nation as far as the Islamic State issue is concerned.
  • There should be no race-baiting, as one of the mutually-agreed principles of the debate series must be to foster greater inter-racial understanding and not to exacerbate race relations, and this must be the guiding spirit of the DAP-Gerakan Islamic State debate series.
  • There should be no religious denigration as both parties must ever be conscious in the debate of the important fact that Malaysia is a multi-religious nation with a morality-based system of governance, and that all responsible Malaysians want Malaysia to be a model to the world as a successful multi-religious nation with the confluence of the great religions and civilizations in the country.  Most important of all, one is not anti-Islam when opposing Islamic State, or the majority of the 57 countries in the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC) would be anti-Islam as they are not Islamic States and the majority of 1.3 billion Muslims in the world live in secular states and not Islamic states.

I hope Keng Yaik can continue to be rational and cool-headed and not make irrational, emotional and wild allegations as alleging that the DAP is indulging in “dangerous politicking” in our Defend Secular Malaysia campaign, to defend and uphold the 46-year "social contract”, 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state  whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO. 

Can Keng Yaik explain how a campaign to uphold the spirit and letter of the 46-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone that Malaysia is a secular nation  with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state is “dangerous politicking” whereas efforts to undermine and wreck what the forefathers of the major communities had agreed in the attainment of Merdeka in 1957 and  the formation of Malaysia in 1963 is “constructive politicking”?

Has Keng Yaik forgotten  that twenty years ago, on 8th February 1983, at the grand Barisan Nasional dinner on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia,  Tunku Abdul Rahman gave what was his “legacy” speech reminding Cabinet Ministers,  Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians “Not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State” – which  was the front-page headline in all language newspapers the next morning?   Wasn’t Keng Yaik present at the dinner and had given his full support as Gerakan President?

Has Keng Yaik forgotten that four days after Tunku’s injunction that plural Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic State, the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn,  on the occasion of his 61st birthday, publicly supported Tunku’s call reiterating that Malaysia was set up “as a secular state with Islam as the official religion”  as  enshrined in the Constitution?

Or did Keng Yaik harbour the thought  even 20 years ago that Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn had been indulging in “dangerous politicking” in reaffirming Malaysia as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State – but had not dared to express his innermost views  until last weekend?

If Keng Yaik has forgotten these two important episodes, I have the newspaper cuttings of the events of 20 years ago, and I am prepared to show them to him, to jog his memory – although I do not know whether it would be able to jolt his conscience!

I await Keng Yaik’s response as my three  representatives are ready to meet his representatives immediately to arrange for the holding of the DAP-Gerakan debate series on Islamic State, which could be a model for other debates on important national issues in the country.

I am also setting up a team to prepare for the DAP-Gerakan Islamic State debate series, and Malaysians who wish to help with ideas and views are welcome, including to join my team of advisers.  They can contact the DAP direct or through the DAP website or DAP email [email protected]


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman