In Parliament earlier today, during the parliamentary debate on the Royal Address, I specifically asked whether the Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg, the four Sarawak PBB Malay-Muslim Federal Ministers – Nancy Shukri, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department; Datuk Fadillah Yusuf, Minister for Works; Datuk Wan Junaidi, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment; and Rohani Abdul Rahman, Minister for Women, Family and Community Development – and the 25 Sarawak Members of Parliament are anti-Islam because they reject PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill?
If the answer is in the positive, are we saying that we have an anti-Islam Sarawak State Government? This is clearly unthinkable, unbelievable and impossible.
If the answer is no, why are people going around hurling the epithet of “anti-Islam” against all and sundry for rejecting Hadi’s private member’s bill?
The position of the Sarawak Chief Minster and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional is very clear.
In a news report dated Feb. 16, 2017, Abang Johari was quoted as saying that he would repeat former Sarawak Chief Minster, Adenan Satem’s directive to the 25 Sarawak Barisan Nasional MPs to reject Hadi’s private member’s bill.
Abang Johari said after chairing his first cabinet meeting: “That is the stand of Tok Nan before and we will follow that stand.”
He said the bill would cause the state’s peaceful multi-ethnic and multi-faith society to be undermined and it conflicted with the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which declared Sarawak to be a secular state.
In my speech in Parliament earlier today, I urged all Malaysians, including political and civic leaders, to take the first steps to regard themselves as Malaysians, and not to regard themselves just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Dayaks as the nation achieved Independence 60 years ago and Malaysia was established 57 years ago.
I recalled that it was 66 years ago when Datuk Onn Jaafar, the founder-president of UMNO was told of being “too ahead of the times” when he left UMNO on 26th August 1951 after his proposal for UMNO to open its membership to other races was rejected.
Fifty-one years ago, DAP was told of being “too ahead of the times” when we formed and registered as a political party in 1966 dedicated to towards the goal of a democratic, prosperous and just Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
I can still remember that 30 years ago, I was again told that the DAP leaders and I were “too ahead of the times” when I was visited by a top official at the Batu Confinement Centre in December 1987 where I was held in solitary confinement for 60 days during the ISA custodial detention under Operation Lalang. I was told that the DAP principles and polices might be right and correct for Malaysia, but we were “too ahead of the times” – although they might be acceptable by the next generation of Malaysians. As a result, I would be formally detained for a second time under the ISA and would be sent to Kamunting Detention Centre.
This is 2017 when we will be celebrating the 60th National Day anniversary. Sixty-six years ago, Datuk Onn was too head of the times. Fifty-one years ago, DAP was too ahead of the times. Thirty years ago, I was again told that the DAP was too ahead of the times.
Isn’t it time that NOW, 60 years after the attainment of Merdeka on August 31, 1957, all Malaysians should stop thinking of themselves just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans and to start thinking of themselves also as Malaysians and to stop throwing freely and unthinkingly allegations that others are anti-Malay, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, anti-Kadazan, anti-Iban or anti-Islam, anti-Christianity, anti-Buddhism or anti-Hinduim as every Malaysian must welcome and accept Malaysia as a nation where there is a confluence of diverse races, religions, languages, cultures and civilisations?
This diversity and pluralism are in fact Malaysia’s unique strength and assets!
If we accept Malaysia as a plural society, then there is no room for any patriotic Malaysian to be anti any race, anti any religion or anti any culture.
Hence, no one, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, should be accused of being anti-Islam whether he or she supports or rejects Hadi’s private member’s bill.
(Speech at the teh-tarik dialogue with youths in Subang, Selangor on Wednesday, 15th March 20176 at 8.30 pm)