Monday, October 16, 2017

UNEQUIVOCAL STAND ON SECULAR MALAYSIA NEEDED FROM SARAWAK LEADERS


PRESS STATEMENT
14 OCTOBER 2017

I am extremely disturbed and disappointed to read in the webnews portal Free Malaysia Today that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki had said in Kota Bharu that the BN government's efforts at strengthening Islam from time to time was evidence it would not backslide from its responsibility to turn the country into an Islamic state.

This is the clearest statement yet on the federal government's stance on making Malaysia an Islamic state, despite all evidence that Malaysia was formed on the understanding that it would be a secular country. Needless to say, Wajdi's statement is a flagrant contravention of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement by which Sarawak merged with Sabah, Malaya and Singapore to form the Malaysian nation.

That Wajdi seems unconcerned about this contravention is yet more evidence that on issues of vital importance to Sarawak, the Federal BN is not bothered about the rights of the people of the state nor about the meaning and import of solemn undertakings. Perhaps he is unaware of the Cobbold Commission report, the Report of the Intergovernmental Committee, and the terms of the Malaysia Agreement.

There is enough evidence in our historical documents and legal precedents to establish that Sarawak had signed the Malaysia Agreement with a secular state. The founding father, BAPA MALAYSIA Tunku 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? The fact that Malaysia is a secular country is recognized by the Supreme Court in Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosecutor [1988] 2 MLJ 55.

The Sarawak BN ought to emulate the Sultan of Johor in the recent instance of the Ruler's reaction to the issue of a Muslims-only laundrette in Muar, which appears to be a campaign by stealth to make Malaysia an Islamic state. It has to draw an unequivocal response of repudiation – and that, too, with alacrity – by the Sarawak BN as otherwise people of this state will think the state government complicit in the federal endeavour to make Malaysia an Islamic state.

When we agreed to form Malaysia, it was with the understanding that we remain a nation governed by the rule of law and not by religious laws. Our forefathers placed such high priority and importance on the secularity of our country that it was one of the key findings of the Cobbold Commission that there was to be no official religion for Sarawak.  Any attempts to turn this country to an Islamic state would be a clear breach of a fundamental term of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, for which Sarawak would have recourse in the courts of law.

This is not a time for equivocation. Sarawak BN must repudiate Wajdi's statement and demand a denial of its claims by the highest authorities in federal BN.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

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