Is Malaysia an Islamic country or not?

If DAP, PKR or Pakatan Harapan wanted to solve this issue and get rid of the confusion, or clear up what Malaysia really is — whether an Islamic country or a secular country — they would have done this in the 22 months they were in power. Why did they not do so?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

When you read articles and opinion pieces written by anti-PAS and anti-Umno-Barisan Nasional people such as Dennis Ignatius (READ THE ARTICLE BELOW), you can see it is oozing with prejudice and presents only one side of the picture, and a distorted one at that, too.

Whether what Dennis said is true or not, or whether it has been exaggerated to appear like it is worse than it actually is, the arguments or accusations can actually apply to both sides. I mean, as the Malays would say, lanun dan penyamun sama juga, dua-dua perompak.

The message from Dennis is that PAS, Umno, Bersatu, Ismail Sabri, Najib Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin, etc., are bad, while Tun Dr Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Pakatan Harapan, DAP, PKR, etc., are good.

Okay, forget about how bad the government and all its leaders are. Let us talk about the opposition, whom Dennis is promoting. What are the marvellous things they did when they were in power for almost two years? Give us a list.

The crescent in the Malaysian flag is a symbol of Islam

Yesterday, former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail said Malaysia is not an Islamic country and hence Islam or religion should not interfere in our daily lives. In fact, Lim Kit Siang and other DAP leaders have clearly stated that Malaysia is a secular country.

For decades there has been utter confusion regarding Malaysia’s status, ever since Tunku Abdul Rahman announced that Malaysia is a secular country and Dr Mahathir contradicted that declaration and announced that Malaysia is not only an Islamic country but a fundamentalist Islamic country on top of that.

So which is it? Half the population of Malaysia says one thing while the other half says the opposite. And this one issue alone has badly divided Malaysians to the point where Muslims and non-Muslims hate each another (and do not pretend this is not true).

Okay, is this a case of confusion due to two conflicting announcements, or is it a case of misinterpreting the Federal Constitution of Malaysia? Or is it politicians manipulating the issue for political gain?

If the Malays-Muslims insist that Malaysia is an Islamic country, while the non-Malays-non-Muslims insist that Malaysia is a secular country, both sides of the political divide gain.

The Malay-Muslim politicians can then tell Malay-Muslim Malaysians that the non-Malays-non-Muslims are cabar (challenging) Malaysia’s Islamic country status, while the non-Malay-non-Muslim politicians can tell non-Malay-non-Muslim Malaysians that the Malays-Muslims are a serious threat to the rights of the non-Malays-non-Muslims.

This way, the Malay-Muslim politicians gain, and the non-Malay-non-Muslim politicians gain as well. Both sides gain. It is win-win for both sides. So long as the Malays-Muslims and the non-Malays-non-Muslims fear each other and do not trust each other, they will always need protectors and defenders, which would be the politicians.

You create this siege mentality in the minds of the rakyat. Once they feel their status, position, religion, wealth, etc., are in jeopardy from the other side, they will need someone to look after their interest. And this is the reason why Malays-Muslims need Umno, PAS, Bersatu, and so on, while the non-Malays-non-Muslims need DAP, PKR, Pakatan Harapan, etc.

If DAP, PKR or Pakatan Harapan wanted to solve this issue and get rid of the confusion, or clear up what Malaysia really is — whether an Islamic country or a secular country — they would have done this in the 22 months they were in power. Why did they not do so?

How difficult is it to debate this matter in Parliament and state once and for all whether Malaysia is an Islamic country or a secular country? Currently, Article number 3(1) of the Federal Constitution says:

Article number: 3(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

Change that to either ‘Malaysia is an Islamic country’ or ‘Malaysia is a secular country’ because ‘Islam is the religion of the Federation’ does not explain anything. Matter settled, once and for all.

So why did Pakatan Harapan not do this instead of shouting every day that Malaysia is a secular country and NOT an Islamic country and piss-off the Malays-Muslims who reply if you don’t like living in an Islamic country then go back to China or India.

Now, why are people such as Dennis Ignatius not talking about this? Since this involves the Federal Constitution, ask DAP, PKR, and/or Pakatan Harapan MPs to stand up in Parliament to debate this. Why debate it in the social media? Takut apa? Debating it in the social media jadi apa?

Shame on us all!

Dennis Ignatius

In a sign of the deepening rift between Malay political parties, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has lashed out at his predecessor, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, accusing him of being shameless and without self-respect. “You have already been convicted in court of a very serious crime. There should be at least some shame. In Islam, shame is part of faith. Unfortunately, in Umno, a man convicted of a grave offence described [by the trial judge] as a ‘national embarrassment’ is instead placed on a pedestal as a boss and cheered on with the slogan, ‘malu apa, bossku’ [What’s there to be ashamed about, Boss?]. Where is your faith? Where is your pride?”, he asked.

I’m no fan of Muhyiddin but he’s absolutely spot on in calling out Najib for his shameless behaviour. Najib was found guilty by a court of law on 7 charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. He was sentenced to a total of 72 years imprisonment but since the sentences are to run concurrently, he will only serve 12 years. In addition, he was fined RM210 million. Four judges in all (one on the High Court and three on the Court of Appeal) have ruled on his guilt.

There’s no sugar coating it now, no giving him all that ‘innocent-until-proven-guilty’ excuses. He’s a convicted felon, out on an RM1 million bail pending appeal to the Federal Court. Instead of being remorseful for his crimes, for bringing such disgrace upon the nation, he prances around in public, pretending to be an honest man done in by his rivals. His behaviour is absolutely despicable.

But it is not just Najib who ought to be ashamed of himself. Everyone who embraces him, fetes him, welcomes him or honours him despite his conviction ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves as well. When MCA and MIC leaders fawn over Najib – as they did at the MCA Chinese New Year open house and at the Thaipusam festival respectively – they send a message that his conviction, his betrayal of the voters’ trust and his theft of public funds don’t matter. Shame on them.

And then, there’s UMNO, a party which has long since lost its soul and its moral compass. They continue to hero-worship this convicted felon, task him to lead election campaigns and cheer him on at every turn. The silence of UMNO leaders like Hishammuddin Hussein, Khairy Jamaluddin and Mohamad Hasan is nauseating to say the least. Clearly, power and position matter more than honour and patriotism.

And what does it say of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri when he receives Najib in his office and then announces that “Najib is committed to contributing his time, energy and ideas as a team for the sake of the Malaysian Family”. Did Ismail Sabri ever stop to ask himself whether it was morally right for a prime minister to receive a convicted felon in his office? Besides, where was Najib’s commitment to the Malaysian family when he misappropriated RM42 million from the retirement fund of hardworking Malaysians?

PAS, the party that loves to disguise itself with the cloak of religion, is no better. PAS leaders may be turning against Najib now because he threatens to upend their carefully laid plans to strengthen their foothold in the federal government, but remember that the entire top leadership of PAS visited Najib soon after he was first convicted in July 2020 to show him solidarity and support. For all their religious posturing, they were quick to abandon principle and integrity to commiserate with a criminal for the sake of political expediency. Muhyiddin’s comment that “in Islam, shame is part of faith” must surely apply as much to PAS as it does to Najib.

Sadly, it’s not just all the gutless and unprincipled politicians who must hang their heads in shame; we the voters of this nation ought to feel ashamed of ourselves as well; we are either too naïve or too uncaring to hold corrupt politicians accountable. By our vote, we empower the very corruption and abuse of power that oppresses us. How can we talk about national pride or even hold our heads high when we put corrupt men on pedestals instead of ostracising and shaming them?

Following the Melaka elections, Tun Dr Mahathir – who has been uncompromising on Najib’s criminality – asked: “Is it possible that they [the voters] have forgotten the crimes committed by Najib? Or is it that they have forgiven him? Or is it because they believe his claim that he is innocent? Or is it because the voters did not care; that to them corruption is acceptable because they got something for themselves from this corrupt leader?” Whatever your views about Dr Mahathir may be, his questions deserve to be answered.