The choice before Malaysians is not between Islamic State ala-PAS or ala-UMNO but whether to defend and uphold the 46-year founding principle of the nation as a secular Malaysia with Islam as official religion
Media Conference Statement
- at the launch of the Love Malaysia/Defend Secular Malaysia campaign at PJ Old Town
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): For 44 years, the mainstream nation-building agenda was to develop and sustain the democratic, secular and multi-religious nature of the Malaysian Constitution and voices calling for an Islamic state were at the periphery; but overnight, with the declaration by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference on September 29 2001 (the “929” declaration), the controversy over what type of an Islamic state Malaysia should become has hijacked the mainstream nation-building agenda.
For the first time in the 46-year Malaysian parliamentary history, the question whether the UMNO Government is “Islamic state” enough has become an abiding theme in the debates in Parliament - when for the last four decades, the term “Islamic state” was rarely heard.
In the past two years, the DAP had been a lone voice as if in the wilderness seeking to draw the attention of Malaysians to the tectonic shift in the nation-building process but we have found it very heavy-going as there had been little awareness, concern and alarm, with virtually nil crisis consciousness, at the far-reaching political, legal, socio-economic and citizenship implications for all Malaysians when the 46-year democratic, secular and multi-religious nature of the Constitution is jettisoned in favour of an Islamic state - whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS.
Malaysians who want to defend the 46-year Merdeka Social Contract for a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia must be aware that they are in a race against time, for if in the next general elections - expected within the next 4 - 9 months - the Barisan Nasional is given strong support, it would be regarded as a mandate to jettison the 46-year Social Contract and embark Malaysia on the road of an Islamic State.
All Malaysians and the civil society should speak up to preserve the 46-year democratic, secular and multi-religious constitution and not to allow it to be transformed into an Islamic State, for two reasons:
In the next general election, Barisan Nasional strategists would want to convince the Malaysian voters that the greatest issue before them is to choose between Islamic state ala-UMNO without any change to the Constitution and the status quo and the Islamic state ala-PAS with all the phobias about jihad and Taliban Afghanistan.
If Malaysians have no other options and must choose between an Islamic state ala-UMNO or an Islamic state ala-PAS, the overwhelming majority of the people would choose the former - but this is a false choice for Malaysians.
This is because the real choice that must be made by Malaysians is not to choose between Islamic state ala-UMNO or Islamic state ala-PAS, but whether to continue to defend the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious state with Islam as the official religion or to jettison this principle and endorse Malaysia as an Islamic state, whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS or ala-some other formula.
This is the time for moderate and progressive Malaysians, Muslim and non-Muslims, to stand up and be united in the great battle in the defence of the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle of a democratic, secular and multi-religious Malaysia with Islam as the official religion and to make it very clear that Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, do not want either UMNO or PAS Islamic state which is not mentioned in Quran and the Sunnah or any other theocratic state of other religions.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman