Pakatan divided on secular state issue

While DAP insists Malaysia is a secular state, PKR says it is a non-issue while PAS says the matter is best debated when the political climate is more ‘free’. 

G Vinod, FMT 

Pakatan Rakyat MPs are divided on the issue of whether Malaysia is a secular state or otherwise.

While DAP insists that Malaysia is a secular state, PKR and PAS MPs were non-committal, saying what matters most is to rejuvenate Malaysia democratic space.

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia is not a secular state as the Federal Constitution is “silent” about it.

But the Padang Rengas MP did not state if Malaysia was an Islamic state either.

However, he added that the country had been using secular laws which had been brought over from before Independence, through Article 162 of the Federal Constitution.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua was not impressed with Nazri’s answers and accused the minister of being in denial syndrome, to serve the political interest of Barisan Nasional.

“It’s like saying you’re neither a man nor woman,” said Pua.

The DAP publicity chief also said that Nazri’s refusal to recognise Malaysia’s secular constitution was a clear attempt to influence the Malay voters.

“There is nothing wrong with a secular state having Islam as the official religion. It just means that everyone is free to practise their own religion,” said Pua.

Respecting the constitution

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that BN had always used the secular state and Islamic state argument to confuse the masses for its own political advantage.

“I think it’s a bait. As far as we are concerned, we will continue to uphold and respect all that is enshrined in the constitution,” said Nurul.

Whether Malaysia was a secular state or otherwise, Nurul said it was a non-issue.

“The point is that our constitution has helped navigate Malaysia as a moderate Muslim state. The most important thing now is to improve our democratic state to realise our potential to be a beacon of democracy,” said the PKR vice-president.