The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has issued a most timely statement to point out that there are no historical document to contradict the fact that Malaysia was intended to be a secular state all the way back to Merdeka in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Contradicting the recent parliamentary statement of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia was not a secular state, MCCBCHST president Jagir Singh said historical evidence and provisions in the Constitution dispel any doubts that the nation’s founding fathers had intended the nation to be a secular, not an Islamic state.
He cited historical documents such as the Alliance Memorandum submitted to the Reid Commission in 1956, and the white paper issued by the British government in June 1957, to contradict Jamil Khir’s claim that Malaysia was not intended to be a secular state.
For instance, the Alliance Memorandum jointly submitted by Umno, MCA and MIC to the Reid Commission specifically stated that they wanted a secular state, although the religion of the state was to be Islam.
At their first Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the three new Ministers – MCA President Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Deputy President Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and Gerakan President Datuk Mah Siew Keong, must insist Jamil Khir retract two parliamentary statements on hudud and Malaysia not a secular state for flouiting Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies.
The two parliamentary statement by Jamil Khir which violated Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies were firstly, his statement this month that Malaysia is not a secular state and secondly, his March 27 statement that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government was prepared to assist the Kelantan State Government to implement hudud laws.
All Malaysians will be waiting for the outcome of the Cabinet meeting next Wednesday July 2 as to whether the three new Ministers would dare to uphold Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies by demanding that Jamil Khir retract these two parliamentary statements which clearly violate Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies.
If Liow, Wee and Mah need further arguments for demanding that Jamil Khir retract the two parliamentary statements which flout Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies, they can do no worse by quoting Jagir Singh’s cogent reasoning that a secular state does not mean that religion and the state were completely separate.
Jagir have given Turkey and Indonesia as examples of countries which are grounded in Islamic principles but are secular, stressing:
“Therefore Malaysia can be described as a secular country with Islam as the religion of the federation but where Islam does not form the basic laws and where the Constitution is the supreme law.”
Jagir rightly pointed out that Article 4(1) made it clear that the Constitution, not shariah law, was the supreme law of the land.
As Jagir said, the words Islamic law and shariah courts were not even found in the 1957 Constitution.
“The Muslim courts were renamed Shariah courts in 1976 by amending Schedule 9, similarly ‘Muslim law’ was amended to read ‘Islamic law’.”
As such, hudud should not be implemented in the country as it would undermine the consensus reached between the different communities, as well as the Constitution and fundamental rights, including freedom of religion.
The question is whether Liow, Wee and Mah would raise these important issues at their first Cabinet meeting in order to rehabilitate and restore the long-standing Barisan Nasional consensus and established policies which had been flouted by Jamil Khir in Parliament in the last three months, or whether they choose to keep quiet and accept the violation of Barisan Nasional consensus and a tectonic change in established BN policies by Jamil Khir so that they could continue to be Ministers in the Najib Cabinet!