On the Secular State Debate: G-25 Responds to Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

Multiculturalism and Secularism – The Debate Continues

Earlier debate: Debunking Multiculturalism and Secularism – A Rejoinder

On the secular state debate: A response to Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil — G25 Malaysia

Malaymail Online 27 Jan 2020

JANUARY 27 — In his article in Berita Harian on January 19, 2020, Dr Mohamed Azam called out the G25 for claiming that Malaysia is a secular state. In doing so, he referred to G25’s recently-released report on the ‘Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam’ and challenged the position that Malaysia is a secular state, based on three main arguments.

1. First, he asserts that the Federal Constitution does not contain, or make any reference to, the word ‘secular’, and in fact, it is only the religion of Islam that is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. In light of this, he argues, the characterisation of Malaysia as a secular state is ‘inaccurate’.

2. This leads to his second argument: that Articles 3(1) and 12(2) places Islam in a ‘special’ position in Malaysia’s constitutional order, in spite of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s assurances that including Article 3(1) in the Constitution does not alter the secular character of the state. He also posits that if anything, the presence of Article 3(1) favours those who argue that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

3. Finally, Dr Mohamed Azam justifies his position by referring to the then Supreme Court decision in Che Omar bin Che Soh, the High Court decision in Meor Atiqulrahman, as well as various scholarly opinions.

While Dr Mohamed Azam is entitled to his academic opinion, we wish to point out that his arguments are flawed for a number of reasons. Continue reading “On the Secular State Debate: G-25 Responds to Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil”

Christian Use of Allah Historically Legitimate, Linguistically & Theologically Well-Founded – High Court Expert Report

The dispute between the Sabah-Sarawak churches and the government over the rights of Christians to use the “Allah” word in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Alkitab) has lasted more than 10 years. The Malaysian church leaders continue to reach out to government officials to find an amicable solution even as they await the judgment of the court in two cases where Sarawak and Sabah Christians sued the government for their right to use the word in the Alkitab.

The dispute has lasted so long that it no longer garners attention as front-page news. Not surprisingly, many young Christian leaders today fail to understand the fundamental concerns that compelled the church leaders to bring the dispute to court – the dispute over the “Allah” word would not have arisen if the Malaysian authorities acknowledge the undeniable historical fact that Christians in Malaysia who use the word are merely following the honorable tradition of Arabic Christians who have been using the word for centuries long before the advent of Islam. By prohibiting Christians from addressing their God as “Allah”, the Malaysian authorities are violating common sense and human courtesy.

Young Christian leaders will gain a full understanding of the right of Christians to use the “Allah” word after reading the Expert Report shared in this post. Such an understand is vital so that they will continue defend with firm conviction the right of Malaysian Christians to use “Allah” word in the Alkitab since the usage is historically legitimate, linguistically and theologically well-founded. Continue reading “Christian Use of Allah Historically Legitimate, Linguistically & Theologically Well-Founded – High Court Expert Report”

JAKIM Was Established Without Constitutional or Legal Basis

A recent Report published by G25, a group of former top civil servants, “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam” points out that “there is no constitutional or legal basis for the establishment of JAKIM [The Malaysian Islamic Development Department].” The Report acknowledges the need to have a federal agency to promote uniformity in the administration of Islamic law among the states. However, the Constitution would have to be amended to legitimize the existence of JAKIM. It is noted that even if JAKIM were to be legally established, its role should be confined to advising the states, which would not be obliged to heed its advice. Continue reading “JAKIM Was Established Without Constitutional or Legal Basis”

The Federal Constitution, Islamisation and the Malaysian Legal Order

 

Related Post, Highly Recommended: Interfaith Council Urges MPs to Vote Against Hadi’s Upgrade Shariah Courts Bill

by Guest Writer Mr. Lim Heng Seng.

[The policy introduced by the Mahathir administration in the early 1980s, innocuously promoting Islamic universal values, became a platform for certain quarters to embark on a drive to change the fundamental character of the Malaysia polity and its legal order.

Will Malaysia end up as an Islamic or quasi-Islamic state by the gradual and subtle re-writing of her foundational document, the Federal Constitution?  Or will she retain her character as an essentially secular nation?

These developments in Islamisation threaten to subvert the very foundation on which we, the citizens, and the territorial components of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have held together as one nation.]

Continue reading “The Federal Constitution, Islamisation and the Malaysian Legal Order”

The End of Democratic Constitutionalism in Malaysia?

Many of you probably missed my debate with some Malay nationalists or ‘political royalists’ on the Social Contract, Islam and the special position of the Malays way back in 2006. Click on highlighted yellow link in the right panel of this site (Debates on Social Contract/Multiculturalism). LINK. Don’t miss the sections containing historical records on the formation of the Federal Constitution. Part 1 and Part 2

I post here a recent article by the distinguished scholar Clive Kessler, as it provides incisive insights on how the debate has escalated because of heightened existential anxieties (angst) of some influential streams of the Malay ruling elite. These politically astute, influential and powerful zealots intend to sweep away very democratic foundations of our Constitutional democracy.

We are faced with a frightful, clear and present danger. It is incumbent that everyone of us, regardless of our racial and religious background, go beyond our parochial self-interests, set aside our relatively minor differences and unite to defend our fragile democracy.

God forbid that we continue to “main-main masak” or just “masak-masak” while extremists have started a dangerous fire in the kitchen! Continue reading “The End of Democratic Constitutionalism in Malaysia?”

Social Contract and the Special Position of the Malays: Some Observations on the Historical Context

SOCIAL CONTRACT AND THE SPECIAL POSITION OF THE MALAYS

Some observations on the Historical Context

Excerpt
Malay ethnic nationalists (UMNO politicians in particular) in the past usually avoided making reference to the Social Contract. But recently, these UMNO politicians seem to have overcome their reservations and are urging Malaysians to respect the Social Contract. What is the reason behind this new openness and acknowledgement of the Social Contract? A closer analysis of their speeches would reveal a not-so-subtle attempt to reinterpret the terms of the Social Contract to conform to their ideology of Malay dominance and supremacy. That is to say, these ethnic nationalists are attempting to hijack the Social Contract and disregard for the original intent of the Founding Fathers of the nation. In this case, citing a text without respecting the historical context becomes merely a pretext for ideological manipulation of history.

Continue reading “Social Contract and the Special Position of the Malays: Some Observations on the Historical Context”

Malaysia Social Contract (Part 2): Excerpts from Historical Documents

The Reid Commission (1957)(Download PDF File)

I) Report of the Federation of Malaya Constitutional Commission 1957

(London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office)

Colonial No. 330 Continue reading “Malaysia Social Contract (Part 2): Excerpts from Historical Documents”

Malaysia Social Contract (Part 1): Religion and Equal Citizenship

Whoever seeks to redefine our past seeks to hijack our future. In this regard, recent attempts to rewrite the history of the Social-Legal Contract created at the founding of Malaya/Malaysia in 1957 and our Constitutional history are troubling. These attempts at rewriting of history include two goals: 1) legitimize the transformation of Malaysian politics premised on equal citizenship of all Malaysians to one based on Malay dominance (supremacy) since 1969 (one may call it subversion of Malaysian democracy), and 2) to strengthen demands for implementation of Shariah law in all sectors of society.

Social Contract (Part 1): Religion and Equal Citizenship

Whoever seeks to redefine our past seeks to hijack our future. In this regard, recent attempts to rewrite the history of the Social-Legal Contract created at the founding of Malaya/Malaysia in 1957 and our Constitutional history are troubling. These attempts at rewriting of history include two goals: 1) legitimize the transformation of Malaysian politics premised on equal citizenship of all Malaysians to one based on Malay dominance (supremacy) since 1969 (one may call it subversion of Malaysian democracy), and 2) to strengthen demands for implementation of Shariah law in all sectors of society. Continue reading “Malaysia Social Contract (Part 1): Religion and Equal Citizenship”

Debunking Multiculturalism and Secularism – A Rejoinder

I have been honored to receive two replies to my article “Multiculturalism – How Can it be Wrong?�? published in the STAR (25/08/2006), which was in fact a response to an an earlier article “Debunking Multiculturalism” written by Md Asham Ahmad from IKIM (STAR 22/08/06).

Due to the constraint of time, I shall presently only give a brief response to a few issues raised by Md Asham Ahmad and Marzuki Mohamad in their responses to my article.

Debunking Multiculturalism and Secularism – A Rejoinder
By Ng Kam Weng

I have been honored to receive two replies to my article “Multiculturalism – How Can it be Wrong?” published in the STAR (25/08/2006), which was in fact a response to an an earlier article “Debunking Multiculturalism” written by Md Asham Ahmad from IKIM (STAR 22/08/06).

Due to the constraint of time, I shall presently only give a brief response to a few issues raised by Md Asham Ahmad and Marzuki Mohamad in their responses to my article. However, in the long term I think it is more fruitful to offer in-depth reflections of the issues related to multiculturalism and politics of recognition. Hence, I shall in due time, post papers such as: Imagined communities and invention of politics in Malaysia; Islamic institutions in British Malaya; Modern social contract theories and consent in politics; Myths and realities of secularization and Christianity; multi-cultural citizenship; the social-legal contract of 1957 and 1963 with excerpts from original documents, etc.

Let me now address some of the issues raised by Mazuki Mohamad and Md Asham Ahmad respectively. Continue reading “Debunking Multiculturalism and Secularism – A Rejoinder”

Multi-Culturalism – How Can it be Wrong?

These must be worrying times for Malaysian citizens if an official from IKIM, a government think-tank dedicated to the task of disseminating Islam as a tolerant religion, can come out with an article entitled “Debunking Multiculturalism�? that appeared in the STAR (22/08/06).

This article is written in response to an article published in the STAR on Tuesday 22 August 2006. See “Debunking Multiculturalism” by Md Asham Ahmad from IKIM (Institute of Islamic Understanding). The article is also available in the official website of IKIM

HOW CAN MULTICULTURALISM BE WRONG?

These must be worrying times for Malaysian citizens if an official from IKIM, a government think-tank dedicated to the task of disseminating Islam as a tolerant religion, can come out with an article entitled “Debunking Multiculturalism” that appeared in the STAR (22/08/06).

Credit must be given to the writer, Md Asham Ahmad, for his forthrightness in arguing that Islam – rather than multiculturalism – be the framework for social policy in Malaysia. Nevertheless, it is evident that the writer’s forthrightness is not accompanied by accurate facts, given his skewed reading of Christian history. Continue reading “Multi-Culturalism – How Can it be Wrong?”