Conventions on the state of Malaysia according to the 1957 Constitution
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that there should be conventions on the state of Malaysia based on the spirit and true meaning of the 1957 Federal Constitution that has never mentioned Malaysia as an Islamic State.
In our multiracial country, we should deal with sensitive matters cautiously. We should uphold the real spirit and meaning of the 1957 Constitution.
Dr Tan was the first person to speak during the debate on the 2008 Supply Bill (Budget) on 10.9.2007. The Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presented the budget at 4.00 pm on 7.9.2007. The debate on the budget begins on the following Monday.By tradition, Opposition Leader starts the debate on the budget. Because of traffic jam near Parliament, Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang could not arrive at 11.30 am on 10.9.2007 when the Speaker Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib threw open the debate. Dr Tan stood up and spoke spontaneously until Kit Siang appeared. This was unconventional.
Dr Tan touched on the state of Malaysia, RM 43.8 billion (24.8% of the total) for education, RM 12.5 billion (7.1% of total) for transport, RM 12.95 billion (7.3% of total) for health, modern ICT for Parliament, broadband, wireless and smart schools for the whole country and the teaching of history in schools.
The Finance Minister speaks of a development philosophy of growth with equity to enable all Malaysians to benefit from rapid economic expansion and wealth creation regardless of race and colour.
In 1957, the Reid Commission drew up the Merdeka Constitution that takes into consideration the multiracial nature of the country. Islam is the official religion, but Malaya and then Malaysia is not an Islamic State.
(In 2001 the then Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad declared Malaysia an Islamic State. In 2007, the Deputy Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak says the same thing.)
Today, the Minister in the Prime Minister Department Dato' Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz replies to the question of Pontian MP Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad and repeats his reply to Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang that Malaysia is neither secular nor theocratic as pronounced by the Prime Minister. This is a vague statement. Nazri also mentions the principles of civilizational Islam and the freedom of all religions.Some have called for conventions to discuss the 1957 Federal Constitution. For example, the Minister for Agriculture and Agriculturally-based Industry Tan Sri Muhyddin Mohd Yassin asked for a closed convention on the issue.
Just as national unity that must be constantly nurtured, we need continuous efforts to instill in Malaysians the true spirit and meaning of the 1957 Federal Constitution.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw