DAP welcomes Abdullah’s pledge to always respect and protect the constitutional rights of non-Muslims and calls on him to give full endorsement to the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion by scrapping the Barisan Nasional “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Wednesday): We are gathered in Ipoh today to vindicate our constitutional and citizenship rights which were blatantly violated 20 months ago, when on June 5, 2002, I was arrested outside the Pasir Pinji market in connection with the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign, on the ridiculous ground of committing the non-existing offence of “distributing a seditious pamphlet without permit”. Either the “No to 929” pamphlet is or is not seditious – as there is no such thing as the offence of distributing a seditious pamphlet without a permit.
The next day, on June 6, 2002, the Ipoh police compounded their abuse of power and human rights violations by conducting a one-hour raid of the Perak DAP state headquarters with a 20-strong contingent, armed with a search warrant, and took away some 5,000 copies of the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet.
In the ensuing months of the DAP’s “No to 929 campaign”, I was arrested on another two occasions, in Port Dickson and Klang, while other DAP leaders, including the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan and DAP National Publicity Secretary Ronnie Liu, were also arrested in the course of the campaign.
These were all grave police abuses and misuses of power, as well as reflecting a totally mistaken sense of priorities by the police at a time when their first duty should be – and even more so now - to restore to Malaysians their fundamental right to safety and security whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of their homes by addressing the double rise in the crime rate and the fear of crime, a relatively new phenomenon in Malaysia!
The police invariably claims that they are short of manpower and resources to protect Malaysians from the double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime in recent years, yet they continue to misallocate short-handed police manpower and resources to violate human rights and hamper the legitimate political activities and the fundamental liberties of free speech, expression and assembly of Malaysians as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Today, the 5,000 copies of “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlets which had been “incarcerated” under police lock-and-key for the past 20 months, have been “liberated” to see the light of freedom!
This is most symbolic – that truth must finally prevail if Malaysians are prepared to stand up for their rights.
On the occasion of the “liberation” of the 5,000 copies of “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlets, I call on the 16-men Police Royal Commission headed by former Chief Justice, Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah to inquire into the training and education programme for police officers to ascertain as to why they could regard a campaign to uphold the Malaysian Constitution and the Merdeka “social contract” as seditious.
If the “No to 929” campaign to uphold Merdeka “social contract” which is written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1971 Rukunegara is seditious, then the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn would have committed sedition offences as well as they had at one time or another proclaimed that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state. Why is it necessary for the police to refer such a basic matter, which should be the common sense for all informed Malaysians, the Attorney-General for a decision?
On Monday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Kota Baru that non-Muslims do not have to fear the government’s efforts to instill values and practices among Muslims. He said their constitutional rights and way of life would always be protected and guaranteed as he is the Prime Minister of Malaysia leading multi-ethnic groups.
DAP welcomes Abdullah’s pledge to always respect and protect the constitutional rights of non-Muslims and calls on him to give full and unequivocal endorsement to the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion by scrapping the Barisan Nasional’s “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State and returning to the crystal-clear position adopted by the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia.
The Prime Minister should take heed and respect the stand of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) which in its policy statement of 31st January 2002 declared its opposition to the “929 Declaration”, reaffirmed that Malaysia is a secular state according to the Federal Constitution and called on the Barisan Nasional component parties to reconsider their support for the declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
The MCCBCHS, which represents the four great non-Muslim religions of the country comprising some 42 percent of 25 million Malaysians, also reaffirmed its opposition to any tinkering of the 1957 "social contract" embodied in the Federal Constitution specifying that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and that Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
One of the important issues to be decided in the coming general election to be held next month is whether the 46-year “Social Contract” solemnly agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of nationhood and written into the 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, would be upheld and preserved, or whether it would be jettisoned in the dustbin of history to embark Malaysia on the road of an Islamic State.
Malaysians who reject PAS’ Islamic State may be prepared for a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election – largely because of the political honeymoon and “feel good” effect of Abdullah as the new Prime Minister and his untested promise of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, people-oriented administration.
What is not realized is that this would be regarded as a national mandate for the abandonment of the Merdeka “social contract” and its replacement by a new “social contract” - the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State.
The tectonic shift in the whole basis on which the Malaysian nation was conceived in the past 46 years need not and may not take immediate effect after the next general election – but the whole ground rules of nation-building would have undergone a fundamental and even irreversible transformation.
Whether under Abdullah’s premiership a few years down the road, or under a new Prime Minister, whenever the political necessity arises for the Malay leadership in government to compete with PAS for the support of Malay votes, the stage will be set for Malaysia to embark on the road of an Islamic State in total violation of the Merdeka “social contract” on the ground that a national mandate had already been given by all Malaysians to UMNO and Barisan Nasional for such a fundamental and irreversible change in the 2004 general election – with far-reaching and long-term political, economic, educational, legal, social and citizenship rights for all Malaysians, our children and children’s children in the years and decades to come.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman