Islam Hadhari – has it received Cabinet approval and will it usher in more meaningful democratic reforms to restore press freedom and  independent judiciary, establish good, efficient  and meritorious governance,  wipe out corruption and uphold Merdeka social contract that Islam is official religion but Malaysia not an Islamic State?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): There have  of late been more and more references to Islam Hadhari in the media  by the national and state UMNO leaders, although an exclusive New Sunday Times  interview (1.8.04) with the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Abdullah Md Zin, who is entrusted with implementing the concept of “civilisational Islam”,    kicked off with the statement:  “So much has been said and yet so little is known about Islam Hadhari”! 

In the interview, Abdullah said that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be launching the government’s first official document on Islam Hadhari later this month. 

As Islam Hadhari will affect not only Muslims but also non-Muslims – which is why plans are also afoot to explain and promote the Islam Hadhri concept among non-Muslims – the Prime Minister should respect the first principle of good and democratic governance before releasing the official document on Islam Hadhari by giving the opportunity to all Malaysians whether Muslim or non-Muslim to give their feedback and have the benefit of public input and views. 

The 60-page document on Islam Hadhari which was first drafted by the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (Jakim) should not be  released as a definitive official document, but only as a consultative paper, allowing for debate and discussion by all Muslim and non-Muslim groups, as well as all representative bodies, including Parliament and the various State Assemblies. 

Many questions have still to be answered, for instance, has Islam Hadhari  been given the Cabinet approval and will it usher in more meaningful democratic reforms to restore press freedom and an  independent judiciary; establish good, efficient  and meritorious governance;  wipe out corruption and uphold the Merdeka social contract that Islam is the  official religion of the nation  but Malaysia not an Islamic State? 

The MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting had publicly given the MCA support to the concept of Islam Hadhari when he spoke at the two-day International Buddhist Forum in Kuala Lumpur on 10th April 2004, but do  the MCA Ministers and leaders have a full understanding of how  Islam Hadhari would affect  the rights of non-Muslims, including their fundamental  constitutional and citizenship  rights? 

There is clearly a lot of confusion about Islam Hadhari, with UMNO leaders claiming on the one hand that Malaysia is pioneering the Islam Hadhari concept and a model in the Islamic World while asserting at the same time that Malaysia had been practicing Islam Hadhari since Independence, although some UMNO Ministers qualify it to more recent times, whether starting from the premiership of Tun Razak or that of Tun Dr. Mahathir.

In his interview with New Sunday Times, Abdullah made a distinction of Islam Hadhari with other forms of Political Islam, that it “works from bottom up” and not “from top down”. In view of this, it is all the more important that the  60-page  document on Islam Hadhari which the government has prepared should be made public as a consultative document to seek public feedback in a “bottom-up” process – as Malaysians are entitled to know whether gross injustices like the Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Irene Fernandez and Mohamad Ezam cases would be things of the past under  the concept of Islam Hadhari in Malaysia.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman