On Friday, two journalists from Turkey biggest-circulation newspaper Hurriyet interviewed me.
I was taken aback when they told me that their prime interest was how Turkey could learn from the mistakes of Malaysia as there is great concern among the Turks of Turkey becoming another Malaysia down the road of an Islamic state.
They wanted to know what were the major and significant events which marked Malaysia turning from its original commitment towards a secular state towards an Islamic state.
Later on the same day, I received an email from a Malaysian enclosing a Turkish media report of Turkish President Gul allaying Turkish fears of Turkey turning into another Malaysia and becoming an Islamic state.
Entitled “Turkey would never turn into another Malaysia”, President Gul answered the question of those who fear Turkey will become a country like Malaysia during his first official trip to Northern Cyprus by responding: “Turkey is negotiating with the EU for full membership. If there are people who still have worries on the scarf issue, then we should fear those people instead.” (SABAH Newspaper)
Malaysians should be aware that Malaysia is already regarded as an example which Turkey must avoid becoming — a nation which deviated from its secular origins and moving headlong towards an Islamic state.
It should be a wake-up call for all Malaysians who hold dear the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a multi-religious secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.
Let the debate and disquiet among Turks that Turkey could become another Malaysia moving down the road of an Islamic state be a salutary reminder to Malaysians how the world outside is seeing our country and the urgent need for all Malaysians to stay true and strong to the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a multi-religious secular nation with Islam as official religion but not an Islamic state.