Wednesday, July 18, 2007

DPM: M'sia not a secular state

DPM: M'sia not a secular state
What the legal experts, politicians say / PM: Muslim countries cannot remain mere spectators

R.Manirajan

KUALA LUMPUR (July 17, 2007): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said today Malaysia is not a secular state, but an Islamic state driven by the fundamentals of Islam.
"Islam is the official religion and Malaysia is an Islamic state, an Islamic state that respects the rights of the non-Muslims and we protect them," he said when asked to comment on concerns that Malaysia was moving from a secular government to an Islamic State and whether is Malaysia is one.

"I want to correct you (reporter), that we have never never been a secular state. Secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern the country.
"But we have never abdicated from those principles. Malaysia have been always been driven by, and adhere to the fundamentals of Islam ... so your (reporter) premise is wrong," he said.
He was speaking to reporters after opening the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM)'s two-day international conference themed The Role of Islamic States In A Globalised World.

Earlier, Najib read Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi speech.
To another question, Najib said the federal constitution provides Islam as the official religion in Malaysia and it does not want to stereotype to western definition of secular, non-secular, Islamic or non-Islamic.

When told that opposition party PAS has a different perception of an Islamic state, Najib said: "PAS has its own version and we have our own interpretation."
Asked on concerns that after Malaysia took over the chairmanship of OIC, nothing much was done to solve the problems in Iraq, Najib said there are two sides to OIC.
"One is an economic face which takes initiatives to hold forum and conferences in Malaysia for young entreprenuers and women.
"The other side about Iraq involves major powers. Our ability to influence the major powers are somehow limited."
On another matter concerning the free trade agreement with the United States, he said discussions are still on going and he was not sure if everything can be concluded before the expiry of the present US congress' term of office.
However, Malaysia is not tied down to any time frame, he said, adding the discussions do not involve domestic policies, including that on bumiputras.


What the legal experts, politicians say
Husna Yusop and Giam Say Khoon

PETALING JAYA (July 17, 2007): Is Malaysia an Islamic or a secular state? Some constitutional law experts and organisations have different views on this.

Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan:
"Malaysia is a secular state, not an Islamic state. The law is clear about this whereby the supreme court in a 1998 case decided by Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas stated clearly: we are a secular state and the civil court administers secular law.
"Certainly, Islam receives special treatment in the Federal Constitution but that does not mean Malaysia is an Islamic state.
"It does not follow from the provision in Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution that we are an Islamic state in the legal term.
"Going back to the time of our founding fathers and the Reid Commission report, it is clear we were not meant to be an Islamic state. Taking this position today is contrary to our consititutional history.
"We believe there is a misunderstanding that can be resolved by looking closely at the constitution."

International Islamic University Malaysia lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari:
"Malaysia is not a secular state because Islam has been put as the "religion of the Federation" by Article 3(1).
"But, it is acceptable to say Malaysia is "an Islamic nation with its own interpretation." Given the sensitivities and ignorance of both Muslims and non-Muslims, such is understandable.
"Because, even for a country like United Kingdom, with good policies, orderly system and humane laws, it can be Islamic in that sense."

Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi:
"Malaysia is never secular but at the same time, it is not an Islamic state. We are neither here nor there.
"We walk the middle path. But this is not something we should be ashamed of. Instead, it is a pride.
"Malaysia was always promoting Islam. In line with this, it is clear that Malaysia was never neutral on the issue of religion.
"But we have never emphasised on ideological purity. We are not a theocratic state.
The constitution is the supreme law of the nation. So, it does not permit a conclusion that we are a full-fledged Islamic state.
"To me, there is no need to adopt a black or white agreement. There are shades of grey. We are a hybrid state. Our system are all mixed.
"We are a Muslim nation whereby Muslims are in control, but not in the legal way. "And actually, there is no prototype or ideal model of an Islamic state in the world. Not even Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, as they do have customs which have nothing to do with Islam."

MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai
The Federal Constitution's tenet has always been that Malaysia is a secular state, and not an Islamic state.
Although the official religion is Islam, the people can practise other religions.
Najib's statement that Malaysia is an Islamic should not be taken literally but in a general sense that it is an Islamic country, where the majority of the population is Muslim.
Malaysia is an Islamic country, which has a Muslim majority population and which is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference; it is not an Islamic state which practises theocracy.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, reported as saying at the MCA general assembly last year
MCA recognises that Malaysia is an 'Islamic country', like Indonesia and Turkey. 'Islamic states' are like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, where all the administration is based on the Quran.
MCA would go all out to protect the Federal Constitution and would never be slack about this. Because of this, the Kelantan government could not implement its Hudud laws.
Opposition Leader and DAP member of Parliament for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang
Najib's statement is a unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the fundamental principles of nation-building agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation.
It is agreed that while Islam is the official religion of the federation, Malaya and later Malaysia is not an Islamic state, whether of the PAS or Umno variety.
Tunku said at his 80th birthday celebration organised by the Barisan Nasional in1983: "The Constitution must be respected and adhered to. There have been attempts by some people who tried to introduce religious laws and morality laws. This cannot be allowed.
"The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular state with Islam as the official religion."
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia is an Islamic state on Sept 29, 2001, when Umno did badly in the general election, as a gambit to fend off the PAS challenge to the Malay heartland.
The Merdeka social contract has become a political pawn when political parties or leaders find it expedient to manipulate it to shore up political support.
PM: Muslim countries cannot remain mere spectators
KUALA LUMPUR (July 17, 2007): Muslim countries cannot remain mere spectators but need to seek a more active role in the world that is rapidly moving ahead.
In giving Muslim states a wake-up call, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today outlined four imperatives for Islamic states to reclaim the golden legacy of the Islamic era.
"We must commit ourselves to enhancing our competitiveness in order to play a contributing role to the advancement of human civilisation," he said.
In his address at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia's (IKIM) international conference on "The Role of Islamic States in a Globalised World" here, Abdullah said Muslim states should:
renew the spirit of unity among muslims;
revive their economic position;
invest in education and skills, and building a knowledgeable society; and
establish social justice based on timeless Islamic principles.
In his speech delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Abdullah said Islam is a global faith that binds many people the world over in a common bond.
"And yet, we find ourselves pitted against each other; Sunnis against Shias, liberals against fundamentals and most tragically, even the Palestinians against Palestinians."
In this context, he said Muslims must also renew their understanding of Islam and put aside any sectarian differences which could lead to division and conflict among them.
"Ultimately, we must begin to move beyond politics and conflict, and focus on the issues that truly concern us as an ummah -- tackling poverty, eliminating illiteracy, combating ignorance and raising the quality of life," he said.
Abdullah, who is the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), asked how muslim countries were going to account for the fact that despite being so blessed with natural resources, today they largely remain poor and backward.
As it stands, the Muslims' share of the global economy is poor, Abdullah lamented.
In 2005, he said OIC's collective gross domestic product was less than 5% of the total world figure while intra-trade volume (at about USD800 billion) was only about 6% to 7% of total global trade.
Worse, he said, OIC recorded declining share of trade within developing countries, which clearly shows that Muslim states need to engineer a massive turn-a-round, if it wants to recover in the economic arena.
Abdullah said unfortunately, the reality today is that Muslim countries are woefully unprepared to face the challenges of globalisation.
Some Muslims, he said, have even begun to see globalisation as a conspiracy to undermine Islam, leading many of them to espouse radical views and even commit extremist acts, while others remain resigned to their sorry fate, deprived and dejected.
Abdullah said however that Muslim states need to realise that the phenomenon of globalisation is here to stay.
"Simply opposing globalisation -- adopting the attitude of withdrawal or taking the path of obscurantism -- is clearly not a wise option. In fact it is not an option at all," he added.

Updated: 07:34PM Tue, 17 Jul 2007
http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=18609

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