18 JUNE 2014
Sarawakians (and I am sure many other Malaysians) are completely fed-up with the inane statements emanating from the mouths of tragically vacuous politicians and officials in Peninsula Malaysia that greet us each day. Within the space of one week, the bigoted Selangor Islamic religious authorities announce their desire to dispose of our illegally seized Bibles, a half-baked ‘academic’ convert berates Christians for building a big church, and an uninformed Minister gives us the unpleasant news that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
There have been some excellent rebuttals to the Islamic state claim, including an editorial in The Malaysian Insider and it is unnecessary to repeat what has been said. It is necessary however to point out to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Religious Affairs that while he was picking out various provisions in the Federal Constitution to support his claim of an Islamic state, he carelessly overlooked Article 4 which declares “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation…”. This point alone should be enough to erase any doubts in any confused person’s mind. Article 4 does not state that the Syariah is the supreme law of the Federation. The three branches of government, ie the legislative, executive and judiciary are subject to the Constitution and not the Syariah. The rights of the citizens are derived from the Constitution and not the Syariah. In their oaths of office, the Prime Minister and all members of Parliament, and the members of the Judiciary pledge to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution, and not the Syariah. The supremacy of the Constitution puts paid to any notion of Malaysia being an Islamic state.
In addition, the Rukunegara, which states the fundamental principles of governance directed towards the creation of a just and democratic society, declares these tenets: ‘Upholding the Constitution’ and ‘Rule of Law’. It does not state ‘Upholding the Syariah’ or ‘Rule of Syariah’.
If the Malayan political, social and religious landscape in 1961 had been what it is currently in Peninsula Malaysia, I have no doubt that Sarawakians would never have agreed to be part of the Federation. The Malaysia Agreement would not have seen the light of day as Sarawakians would never have agreed to become partners with a country where arrogant racists and religious bigots are allowed to spout their unsavoury propaganda while an emasculated leadership cowers in the corner. Even as it was at that time, during the talks leading to the formation of Malaysia, the non-Muslim communities of Sarawak had voiced their reservations about Islam being the religion of the Federation. It was finally agreed that ‘While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in Sarawak, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Sarawak’. The absence of a state religion was key to Sarawak’s agreement to join in the formation Malaysia in 1963, due to the wisdom of our forefathers. Can Jamil Khir Baharom tell us what the position of Sarawak is, in this imaginary Islamic state of his? Please do not tell us now that we are part of an Islamic state; Sarawakians will not accept the unilateral changing of the contractual terms by one party.
There is enough evidence in our historical documents and legal judgments to establish that Sarawak had signed the Malaysia Agreement with a secular state. The founding father, BAPA MALAYSIA Tuanku Abdul Rahman stated it plainly in Parliament: ‘I would 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’ [Hansard, 1 May 1958]. How much clearer can it be that the INTENTION was the establishment of a secular state? Are the rabble rousing Islamic country champions going to tell us that Bapa Malaysia was confused?
It is truly deplorable that the UMNO politicians are twisting facts to mislead the people for their political gain. It does not matter a hoot to them that they are riding roughshod over the rights of the non-Muslims and creating unhappiness and tensions in the community. Perhaps they are banking on Vladimir Lenin’s mantra "A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth", to make their fantasies come true.
The Prime Minister must make a stand to correct the wrong that has been done, otherwise he will be promoting bigotry and allowing extremists to be even bolder in their outrageous claims. We want these misguided rabid UMNO players in West Malaysia to desist from trying to shove their agenda down our throats. If Malaysia is indeed held to be an Islamic state, I will propose to the Sarawak government that our case be brought to an international forum for adjudication based on misrepresentation and fraud. For now, I ask that the parliamentarians from Sarawak and Sabah take a stand on this and be heard in and out of Parliament. Our Constitution and secularity must be safeguarded for the sake of our future generations.
ADUN N70 BA’ KELALAN