I am quite perturbed to learn that the Parliamentary Secretary of the Prime Minister Department, Masitah Ibrahim, had said in the Dewan Rakyat today that “ it was stated more than 20 times in the Federal Constitution that Islam was the official religion of the country”, as reported in the Malaysiakini today.
The Parliamentary Secretary has obviously misled the house and the people.
Firstly, Article 3(1) of Federal Constitution stipulates, in verbatim, that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”
Article 3(1) does not say Islam is the “official” religion. It is “official” by way of implication and interpretation.
Secondly, it is, as a matter of fact, not true that the Federal Constitution has stated more that 20 times that Islam is the official religion of the Federation. It states only once.
Thirdly, the fact that “Islam is the religion of the Federation”, whether it is stated once or 20 times, does not make the Federation an Islamic state. Otherwise, the Federal Constitution would have had expressly stated so.
Fourthly, the phrase “Islam is the religion of the Federation” in Article 3(1) does not end with a full-stop. It is followed by a semi-colon and the phrase “but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation”.
The construction of Article 3(1), therefore, clearly implies that Parliament has only intended to position Islam to be first among equals in the Federation. Nothing more and nothing less.
The full report of Malaysiakini is as follows:-
Secular M'sia: Ex-PMs' personal viewsVanmala SubramaniamJul 12, 06 5:02pm
The classification of Malaysia as a secular nation by the first three prime ministers was based on their personal opinions, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.Parliamentary secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department Masitah Ibrahim said this in response to a supplementary question from Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor). The opposition leader wanted to know the present administration’s stand on Malaysia’s religious classification.“It is a well-known fact that Tunku (Abdul Rahman), Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn did not categorise Malaysia as an Islamic nation.“Does the present government consider Malaysia an Islamic country or a secular
one. I want an answer from the parliamentary secretary,” said Karpal.Masitah replied that it was not an issue since it was stated more than 20 times in the Federal Constitution that Islam was the official religion of the country.“The opinions of the former prime ministers that Malaysia was a secular nation were purely personal,” she said.'Sensitive issue'Following this, Karpal came under fire from backbenchers Badruddin Amiruldin (BN- Jerai) and Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) for raising a ‘sensitive’ issue and ‘straying’ from the original discussion.Their rebuke was met by jeers and shouts of ‘bahaya’ (dangerous) from the opposition MPs.The issue arose when the phrasing of Badruddin’s question on the implementation of Islam Hadhari in ministries and government agencies came under scrutiny.In his question, the backbencher had referred to Malaysia as an Islamic nation.The Islam Hadhari or Civilisational Islam concept was mooted by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and focused on cultural and moral integrity of society.Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also previously declared Malaysia an Islamic state drawing flak from the opposition, namely DAP.