With 74 days to go to celebrate the 57th Merdeka Day Anniversary and 90 days to celebrate the 51st Malaysia Day Anniversary, the nation’s greatest strengths – our ethnic, religious and cultural diversities – seemed to have become our greatest weaknesses.
Voices of intolerance, hatred, conflict and extremism filled the public spaces and are trying to drown out the voices of tolerance, peace, harmony and moderation, finding surprise ally in the authorities who have abdicated their responsibilities to uphold the law and keep the peace in the country.
Suddenly, Malaysia has become an even more abnormal country – symbolized by the continuing mystery of the 102-day missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 tragedy/disaster with 239 passengers/crew on board and the 13-month disappearance of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak from major national issues after the 13th General Elections in May last year.
There are so many laws in the country, but Malaysia has never been more lawless in recent weeks.
The Inspector-General of Police should be the Chief Custodian of Law in the country but he has become the No. 1 Law-breaker in refusing to enforce the supreme law of land – the Malaysian Constitution.
There is even a quiet coup d’etat in the Cabinet, with the hitherto third-tier Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs usurping the powers of second-tier and even first-tier Ministers in the Cabinet when the Minister concerned, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom shunted aside both the Prime Minister and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and the constitution, Nancy Shukri to give the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional statement in Parliament that Malaysia is not a secular state.
This is the first time in the nation’s 57-year history that a Minister said in Parliament that Malaysia is not a secular state – in total contradiction to the statement by Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman who said in Parliament more than half a century ago on May 1. 1958: “I will like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic state as it is generally understood; we merely provided that Islam shall be the official religion of the state”.
At an official dinner patronized by the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to celebrate his 80th birthday and attended by the present Prime Minister, the Star reported Tunku speaking on February 8, 1983 with the headline “The Tunku turns 80. Don’t make Malaysia an Islamic state – Tunku” where he said “the country has a multiracial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue with a secular state with Islam as the official religion.”
Five days later, on Feb 13, 1983, Tun Hussein Onn, the third Malaysian Prime Minister, on his birthday, gave his full support to Tunku’s statement as reported in The Star: ‘Hussein says no to Islamic state’.
The most pertinent question today is when the Barisan Nasional Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council made the radical policy shift to justify Jamil Khir’s parliamentary statement on behalf of the Barisan Nasional Federal Government that Malaysia is not a secular state – not only going against the assurances of the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein and the other founders of the Alliance component parties of MCA and MIC, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun V. T. Sambantan, but clearly violating the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state?
Former MCA Deputy Minister and currently MCA syariah law and policy implementation policy task force chairperson Gan Pin Sieu has called on Najib to drop Jamil in the coming Cabinet reshuffle, warning the break-up of the federation of Malaysia could be an inevitable consequence of Jamil’s parliamentary reply.
The question is whether the MCA leadership led by MCA President Liow Tiong Lai is prepared to requisition an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council to repudiate Jamil’s unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional statement in Parliament and reiterate the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement of Malaysia as a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
Furthermore, whether the MCA and Gerakan Presidents are prepared to take a principled stand and make it clear to Najib that they are not prepared to be Cabinet Ministers of a Barisan Nasional government which has veered and deviated from the original position of the nation’s constitution and guarantees of UMNO, MCA and MIC founders when Malaya as formed in 1957 and Malaysia in 1963 that the nation shall forever be democratic, secular and multi-religious – especially with their Cabinet status inferior to that of Jamil?
The Cabinet at its next meeting on Friday should take a clear stand on Jamil’s parliamentary reply – whether to endorse it or to repudiate it – and that goes for Najib as well.
In retrospect, Jamil Khir’s parliamentary statement that Malaysia is not a secular state is part of a four-step orchestrated political strategy to destabilize and divide the component Pakatan Rakyat parties, viz DAP, PAS and PKR.
It started with Khir’s parliamentary statement on March 27 that the federal government was ready to work with the PAS Kelantan state government to implement the hudud law in Kelantan, followed by the April 24 statement by Najib in Alor Star that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government had never rejected hudud.
The third ploy was the motion by the Umno Selangor Assemblyman for Sungai Air Tawar Kamarol Zaki Abdul Malik in the Selangor State Assembly to push for the implementation of hudud, which had to be hastily withdrawn when the motion was accepted by the Selangor Assembly Speaker Hannah Yeoh and UMNO learnt that the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat State Assembly members from DAP, PKR and PAS were united on the issue and had decided in a pre-council meeting to vote against the UMNO Selangor motion on hudud in keeping with the PR Common Policy Framework that justice, freedom and good governance and not hudud are the common PR agenda priorities.
It is time that Barisan Nasional parties, especially UMNO, MCA and Gerakan stop “playing with fire” to try to destabilize and divide the Pakatan Rakyat and instead should focus on national issues as the common top priorities whether of Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat – how to ensure that Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political beliefs can live in peace and harmony to fully develop our human, economic, educational, environmental and national resources and potentials, in a framework of justice, freedom and good governance where there is no corruption, cronyism and all forms of abuses of power.