Call on Anwar to confirm or clarify whether it is true as claimed by Keadilan Central Publicity Bureau that UMNO  had long ago the secret agenda to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Malaysia as he had been UMNO leader for 18 years

Media Conference Statement (2)
- launching of the second phase of “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign in Penang 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Saturday): I will like to call on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to confirm or clarify whether it is true as claimed by Keadilan Central Publicity Bureau in a statement in the Chinese press today that UMNO had long ago the secret agenda to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Malaysia, as he should be the best person in the know having been UMNO leader for 18 years -  being the No. 2 in the party and government in the last five years before he was unfairly and arbitrarily sacked and persecuted by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.  

The Keadilan Central Publicity Bureau statement made this startling claim in order to justify Parti Keadilan Nasional’s sympathetic and supportive position on PAS’ stand on an Islamic State and hudud law as well as to send out  the message that Malaysians should be more worried about  UMNO’s “fundamentalist” Islamic State than PAS’ Islamic state.  

I do not want to enter into a polemic with Parti Keadilan Nasional on this issue, but I think it is important that Anwar confirm or clarify the truth of the Keadilan claim that UMNO always had the secret agenda to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Malaysia – even in the 18 years Anwar was in UMNO.  

DAP is concerned however that Keadilan has taken a stand which will encourage PAS to persist in its Islamic State and hudud law objectives, instead of undertaking a  serious reconsideration of these objectives in the light of the reality of Malaysia’s plural society and the historic background  of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and 1963 Malaysia Agreement commitments that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state. 

I was very surprised to read the Malaysiakini report on Thursday  where  the Parti Keadilan Nasional supreme council member, Dr. Lee Boon Chye, as good as declared support for the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill, except for “more dialogues between PAS and various groups on the issue” on the ground that it is “very difficult for Muslims to reject the Islamic state or hudud law”. 

In his 18 years as UMNO leader, Anwar Ibrahim had never declared support for the Kelantan  Hudud Bill.  Why is Keadilan now supporting the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill? 

In his 1996 book, The Asian Renaissance, wrote specifically on the hudud issue and sought to place it  in the general context of Southeast Asian Islam.  

Anwar wrote:  

“True, Southeast Asian Muslims are not without their share of problems. But what differentiates them from their brethren in other parts of the world is their sense of priorities. The proponents of the imposition of Muslim laws or the establishment of an Islamic state are confined to the periphery.  Southeast Asian Muslims prefer to concentrate on the task of ensuring economic growth and eradicating poverty, instead of amputating the limbs of thieves. They would rather strive to improve the welfare of the women and children in their midst, than spend their days elaborately defining the nature and institutions of the ideal Islamic State. They do not believe it would make one less of a Muslim to promote economic growth, to master the information revolution, and to demand justice for women. Nor do they believe it would strengthen one’s commitment to religion by instilling anxiety among people of other faiths.  

“Moderation and pragmatism warrant that extreme emotions be kept under tight rein. Whilst recognizing the legitimate rights of victims of oppression and persecution to use whatever means available to liberate themselves, the head must rule the heart, and passion must give way to sobriety.  For if it were otherwise, it will be a sure-fire formula for violence and destruction. Reason and common sense must prevail in order for us to view things in the proper perspective and set our priorities right.”  (page 114).

On hudud, Anwar said that he is supportive of Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s advocacy for fiqh al-awlawiyyat, the understanding of the priorities of Islamic law,  and wrote that “the application of the hudud …is not necessarily among the top priorities of contemporary societies.” (page 119).

The question is whether Parti Keadilan Nasional still share these views of Anwar in The Asian Renaissance or whether it has moved closer to the PAS position.

This is important because when the DAP was in the Barisan Alternative, there was a clear understanding that any controversial proposal  or enactment by the PAS state governments in Kelantan and Terengganu which affect the sensitivities of the different races and religions would be referred to the BA Presidential Council for a  consensus to be reached first. 

Has the Barisan Alternative Presidential Council given its approval to the presentation of the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill although it is clearly against the Federal Constitution, violates human rights, discriminates against women and contrary to the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia”?

In the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto, all component parties had made a commitment to uphold the fundamental principles of the Malaysian Constitution, which is  flouted by the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill. 

Is this 1999 Barisan Alternative  Common Manifesto no more binding on Barisan Alternative  member parties or had  the Barisan Alternative  Presidential Council and the other parties in the Barisan Alternative  given their approval to the  Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill?

Tomorrow, the PAS Terengganu State Government is set to present its Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill in the Terengganu State Assembly despite calls by many organizations, including the DAP, for the withdrawal of the Bill.

Only the Barisan Alternative Presidential Council can stop the tabling of the Bill, as the Terengganu  Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, had always stressed that he is heading a Barisan Alternative State Government in Terengganu.

Hadi had said that the laws under hudud are commanded by Allah.  This is not the language of democracy but the language of theocracy. 

The Keadilan President, Datin Dr. Wan  Azizah Wan Ismail  who is also the Chair Person of the  Barisan Alternative  Presidential Council,   should make a final attempt to stop the presentation of the controversial hudud bill until it has got the full agreement of the Barisan Alternative by ensuring that it does not violate the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman