To defend a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion is not anti-Malay or anti-Islam as this had been the mainstream nation-building agenda for 44 years and had the open support of all four Prime Ministers of Malaysia, except for the last two years of the 22-year premiership of Mahathir
- opening of the 2003 Penang DAP State Convention
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): On Friday, a newspaper columnist commented that I had within a week from August 24 to Sept. 1 visited seven parliamentary constituencies in Penang in connection with the DAP’s 46th National Day “Love Malaysia, Say No to Islamic State” campaign, presenting seven different arguments.
He pointed out that I had recently forecast that the next general election would not be in September or October, but in four to ten months’ time, and posed the question whether the people would be bored with the subject of Islamic state come the elections if I continue to belabour the same issue in the next few months.
In a way, this is a valid question – whether the Islamic state issue would be overlaboured before the next general election as to bore and turn off the people, causing it to lose impact and influence.
However, my concern is not that it might be over-belaboured but under-belaboured by the time of the next general election, which could be held between December this year and the middle of next year.
This is because the campaign has just started to explain and convince the people that the next general election will be the single most important and critical election in the nation’s history, with the most far-reaching implications affecting the course of nation-building for the next twenty, thirty or more years – whether after the next election, the country is to make the tectonic and irreversible shift of jettisoning the 46-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state to embark on the road of an Islamic State.
Recently, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had repeatedly reminded Malaysians to remember, protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman – and one of the pillars of Tunku’s nation-building formula is that Malaysia shall be a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.
But this secular pillar of Tunku’s nation-building formula has been forgotten and ignored by Mahathir and all the Barisan Nasional leaders, including those like the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik who was present at the Tunku’s mammoth 80th birthday dinner on 8th February 1983 hosted by Barisan Nasional where Bapa Malaysia publicly and pointedly called on Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State”.
It is precisely because of this political amnesia that Mahathir could make the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia was an Islamic State at the Gerakan National Delegates’ Conference on Sept. 29, 2001 and Keng Yaik could give the “929 Declaration” full and unqualified endorsement, although it ran counter to the “social contract” reached by the forefathers of the major communities on achieving nationhood, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, the 1970 Rukunegara and the 1991 Proclamation of Vision 2020, as well as the 35-year founding principles of Gerakan in 1968 in preserving Malaysia as a secular state.
What I am worried is not that we have too much time, but that we have too little time to remind every Malaysian of Tunku’s 80th birthday message exactly 20 years ago to Malaysians “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State”.
This is because there is a lot of work to be done if Malaysia is to be turned away from the tectonic and irreversible shift from a secular state with Islam as the official religion to an Islamic state, where non-Muslims become second-class citizens.
By the next general election, among the tasks that must be accomplished are:
The enormity of these tasks and the shortness of time available to accomplish them could be gauged if we ask the simple question in each case, as to what percentage of the people in the target group has been reached and convinced of the message.
There will be attempts by both Muslims and non-Muslims to distort the campaign to defend a secular Malaysia and “Say No to Islamic State” as an anti-Malay and anti-Islam campaign – by Malays and Muslims who are misled, but also by non-Malays and non-Muslims, whether in government or some opposition parties, to deliberately frighten both Malays and non-Malays, as well as to pressure DAP to abandon such a campaign which they regard as a threat to their political future.
In the final analysis, the success of the “Love Malaysia, Say No to Islamic State” campaign will depend on our ability to make all Malaysians understand and accept that to defend a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion is not anti-Malay or anti-Islam as this had been the mainstream nation-building agenda for 44 years and had the open support of all four Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Mahathir - except for the last two years of Mahathir’s 22-year premiership.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman