Have 3 generations of Malaysians been living under a lie in the past 50 years?

When an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional leaders was held yesterday, the rumour mills worked overtime from speculation about the future of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to a very imminent general election even with dates about dissolution (August 2, 2007) and polling (August 17, 2007).

I did not give credence to both as the subject which I immediately thought of was the “717 Declaration” of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Malaysia is an Islamic state and not and had never been a secular state, which he made on July 17, 2007.

I was reminded of the earlier “929 Declaration” by the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national delegates conference on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia was an Islamic state.

Although Mahathir’s unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declaration received instant endorsement by two top Barisan Nasional leaders present at the function, namely Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik (then Gerakan President) and Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik (then MCA President), an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council had to be convened within a week on Oct. 5, 2001 as questions were raised as to how such an abandonment of a fundamental cornerstone of Malaysian nation-building could be made without proper consultation and full mandate of the leadership and membership of all the Barisan Nasional component parties as well as the Malaysian public.

What happened yesterday was a replay of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council emergency meeting to give endorsement to the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional “929 Declaration” of Mahathir — this time, to bring everyone in Barisan Nasional into line to give unquestioned support to Najib’s equally unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional “717 Declaration”.

Malaysiakini reported that at the Barisan Nasional meeting yesterday, Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, who was attending a Barisan Nasional meeting for the first time after taking over the Gerakan leadership from Keng Yaik on April 18, expressed opposition to the notion of Malaysia being deemed an Islamic State.

This was after Najib sought the input from all the Barisan Nasional leaders on his “717 Declaration”. However, Najib ended the discussion with the directive that there should not be any debate or public discussion on the subject and to “leave the matter as it stands”.

How serious was Tsu Koon’s objection to Najib’s “717 Declaration” when he had given full support to Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” six years ago? This becomes a bigger question when Tsu Koon, together with MCA and other non-Umno BN leaders agreed and allowed Najib to impose a total clampdown on any questioning of his “717 declaration”, whether in the mainstream or alternative media — clearly placing party and individual interests above national interests.

With Malaysia preparing to celebrate our 50th Merdeka anniversary, there is one crucial and critical question about nation-building we must ask ourselves – Have three generations of Malaysians been living under a lie in the past 50 years that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion when it was all along an Islamic State?

Fifty years ago, there had been no doubt whatsoever as to what had been agreed by the major communities in the Merdeka “social contract” on the attainment of independent nationhood in 1957 about Malaya and then Malaysia being a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.

The first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein were on public record that the nation was always conceived as a secular state with Islam as the official religion but never as an Islamic State.

This was clearly spelt out in the Alliance Memorandum which was quoted by the Reid Commission Report. Those in the 1956 Alliance Committee which formulated this memorandum were Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Ismail, Tun H.S. Lee, Tun Leong Yew Loh, Tun Ong Yoke Lin, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun Lim Chong Eu and Tun Sambanthan.

Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin, who just celebrated his 90th birthday, and Tun Lim Chong Eu are the two surviving members who drafted the Alliance memorandum to the Reid Commission on Sept. 27, 1956, which said:

“The religion of Malaya shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslims professing and practicing their own religion, and shall not imply the state is not a secular state.”

Are both of them prepared to come forward to reaffirm that Malaya and Malaysia had been conceived as a secular state with Islam as the official religion and never as an Islamic State?

What has happened in the past 50 years that what was crystal-clear and indisputable about the nation being a secular state with Islam as the official religion could almost overnight be totally jettisoned with the “929 declaration” by Mahathir and now the “717 declaration” by Najib?

Why had Najib and the Umno Youth leader Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hashim repudiated their father’s lifework to create a secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion and staking out a position both Tun Razak and Tun Hussein would have deplored — that Malaysia is an Islamic state?

There are those who felt that the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional jettisoning of the cornerstones of nation-building has made the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations meaningless and there is nothing to celebrate.

I do not agree. The 50th Merdeka anniversary is an occasion which belongs to all Malaysians and not to any single political party or even to the government of the day. For this reason, all Malaysians should commemorate it and in the present circumstances, there is no more meaningful way to commemorate the 50th Merdeka anniversary than for Malaysians to reaffirm the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and to reject the notion of Malaysia as an Islamic state.

We must debunk fallacies and falsehoods about the campaign to uphold the Merdeka social contract for a secular Malaysia. There is the allegation that supporting a secular Malaysia is being anti-Islam and even anti-religion. This is because the word “secular” has been corrupted to mean “anti-Islam”, “anti-religion” atheist or godless.

“Secular” does not mean anti-religion, or the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkism and Taoism (MCCBCHTS) would not have defended a secular Malaysia.

“Secular” does not mean anti-Islam as borne out by a research finding in Indonesia last year that the majority of Indonesians, over 90 per cent of whom are Muslims, believe a secular state is more suitable for the country than an Islamic or Western-style liberal system.

Let us all ponder whether three generations of Malaysians have been living under a lie that ours is a secular state with Islam as the official religion when we had always been an Islamic State as claimed by Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” and Najib’s “717 Declaration”.

If three generations of Malaysians had not been living under a lie, then we must reclaim our heritage and reaffirm the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia had always been conceived as a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic state.

Any attempt to transform Malaysia into an Islamic state cannot be done by surreptitious means by way of unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declarations whether by Mahathir or Najib, but must be through the consent of all political parties and Malaysians.

Let Umno and Barisan Nasional put Mahathir’s 929 declaration” and Najib’s “717 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state and not and never had been an secular state to a national referendum to ascertain whether they could secure popular endorsement from Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or territory.

(Speech at the DAP forum “An Islamic State after 50 years?” at the KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 9 pm)

  1. #1 by KL Dude on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 12:39 pm

    It is impossible for this country to be called as an Islamic State but the leaders themselves are not practising the law of an Islamic State.

    With the high rise in corruption cases lately, how can that be Islamic ? They should be shameful of themselves instead to even mention that Malaysia is an Islamic State but at the same time condone corruption and bribery.

    Corruption and Islam just does not blend. By declaring Malaysia as an Islamic State, the name of the Islamic religion, which is now already being surrounded by various controversies, will be further smeared as what is being practiced by these so called ‘leaders of this self proclaimed Islamic State’ is not in line with the true teaching of Islam itself.

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 12:40 pm

    No YB, there was no lie. 717 was simply bankrupt political opportunists shifting the goalpost to suit their own ends. Such people are in desperation because the ongoing Mongolian murder case might yet throw up more juicy secrets and so, what better way to buttress your position against any negative fallout by playing this 717 declaration card.

    Of course, if they can get away with it, they will want to take credit for it for their future political ambitions.

  3. #3 by MY VIEW on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 1:10 pm

    Why are you harping on this issue again and again? It is confirmed that Malaysia is a Secular state but is moving towards Islamic state day by day.

  4. #4 by dawsheng on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 1:40 pm

    It clear that UMNO acted out of desperation, fearing the oppositions will be making significant inroad in the state assemblies and parliamentary seats, the rakyat now understood how corruptions in the govt has affected everyone’s life, furthermore rampaging crimes and sluggish economy in the past few years proved that BN govt did not have the abilities or committment to deal with the problems. Just how low will UMNO go? If BN is deny two third majority in parliament this GE, this also means that BN will be kaput coming 2012 or 2013, if not sooner. Najib himself would probably end up in jail for all his sins. So is a big NO NO for UMNO if the opposition made any headway this GE. Declaring Malaysia as an Islamic state in multi-racial indicates that the country is on the negative path, and the underlying prospects of greater religious tension is on the rise, further giving the possibility of a social unrest. We all know UMNO will do anything to hold to power.

  5. #5 by ahkok1982 on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 2:13 pm

    No matter what state Malaysia is, the people are still too stupid or just not bothered to do anything about it unless it affects them directly.
    the people are just too divided and care only about themselves, relatives and friends. other issues which does not affect this circle of people, not their problem. the whole country can burn in hell but as long as they are still making a living and surviving, not a problem.
    As i have said in previous postings, we will have to wait until the country’s oil reserves are depleted and the thieves run away to other countries, then only will the people make noise but those who are responsible for it will be long gone. then who will they complain to? Opposition parties? Uncle Kit?
    Sorry too late, time to revert back to kampung lifestyle. Harsh lesson for those who can not care less. but then again, most who still blindly believe in those rhetorics n vote for e thieves come from kampungs. so if AAB’s vision 2050 is to make bodohland one big kampung, it doesnt really change their life much right.

  6. #6 by sotong on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 2:21 pm

    Being a Muslim is already difficult enough.

    Everywhere they go, people suspect them of being a potential terrorists with connect to the Middle East and unfairly and unreasonably discriminated.

    All islamic states strongly appeal to the Islamic terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists as a safe place to conduct their activities.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 3:39 pm

    Australia is asking those who do not want to accept their secular laws to leave the country – mainly targetted at the Muslim clerics who have been advocating that they live under syariah law in Australia.

    Maybe it is Najib’s intention to offer these people a place in Bodohland by declaring Bodohland as an Islamic country ?

  8. #8 by marmitecrab on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 4:50 pm

    Obviously the constitution is only good for wiping the backside after taking a crap in the toilet. Time and again, we are seeing the steady erosion of this historical document and now it is not worth anything anymore because the politicians in power can make any claims they want whatsoever without any repercussions. A stupid statement like 717 would have gotten someone fired if it were any other country but not here.

    Here, it is like a cowboy town. No laws apply here.

  9. #9 by boh-liao on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 6:15 pm

    Our mata-mata are not truly public servants. They are servants of Umnoputras and always at their command. Good deal for Umnoputras – mata-mata paid for from the taxes collected from working people of all ethnic groups, but mata-mata obey their commands quickly and tend to their command immediately.

    That’s why our PM is enjoying his honeymoon overseas, again and again, re-enjoying skills that he missed for a number of years. Can’t blame him. How many PMs in this world remarry during office?

  10. #10 by akarmalaysian on Thursday, 26 July 2007 - 10:36 pm

    i think this najib is diverting his attention and trying to do something he assumed smart fr this altantuya case.making a statement like that he thinks he could gain the malays support.with all the cover ups and millions of dollars wasted fr the peoples money…i think this present government stinks the most in these 50 yrs.

  11. #11 by johnnypok on Saturday, 28 July 2007 - 2:07 am

    Malaysia can only be called an Islamic state in name only. But in practise, we can still continue to enjoy freedom of worship, and buy 4D, Toto, beer, hard-liquor, casino, etc. In actual fact, we have been very tolerant about the governments effort to promote Islam ever since the early days, and been living with it ever since, without any problem, although the older generation sometimes like to joke only, and make casual remarks with no bad intention. Those were the days where peace and harmony truly prevailed. NEP could be blamed for changing the entire political climate. We cannot go against nature (God), or else we have to pay a heavy price.

  12. #12 by undergrad2 on Monday, 30 July 2007 - 11:42 pm

    They say if you repeat a lie so many times, it then becomes the truth.

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