Secular or non-secular: How Art Harun got it wrong on the Reid Commission

November 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm 42 comments

By Mat Rempit Hubris

  1. I would like to draw the reader’s attention to a critical factual error contained in an article written by lawyer Art Harun titled ‘Secular or Non-Secular? What history tells us’ which appeared both in his blog and also in The Malaysian Insider.
  1. In that article Art fatally misrepresented the Reid Commission — the drafters of the Merdeka Constitution. But before I elaborate and provide evidence, I think it is only fair to furnish the readers with some background information on Art Harun’s article.

Lord Reid

  1. Firstly, his article is a tad under 1,300 words long. Yet, out of that amount, only about 300 are actually Art’s own words. And this shouldn’t be surprising once you know what the article tries to achieve; it attempts to demonstrate that Malaysia has secular roots by reference to the historical record — hence the roughly 1,000 words of the rest of the article mainly comprise quotations of the historical material that Art uses to prove his point.
  1. Anyway, to avoid being accused of putting words into Art’s mouth, the following is the reason given by the man himself for citing all those historical material. (He said it in the comment section of his blog when responding to to a reader by the name of ‘Ellese’):

Art had written in response to Ellese:

“However, from the historical point of view and the constitutional point of view as well, what was intended is that this country should be secular in nature. That’s the premise. And that’s why I had produced all those speeches and statements in my article.” (see screenshot in footnote)

  1. Now, the historical sources that he cites are very prestigious — the Alliance Government, the Reid Commission and the British Government. And his article also quotes from Joseph Fernando’s monograph titled ‘The Making of the Malayan Constitution’ which is an invaluable academic work largely based on primary historical material.

JosephFernandoMakingOfConstitution

  1. With regards to the issue of whether Malaysia (Malaya) is a secular or a non-secular country, all the entities he cites — the Alliance, the Reid Commission and the British Government – essentially say the same thing: that the country was meant to be a secular state and that the inclusion of a provision such as Article 3 (which states that Islam is “the religion of the Federation”) shall not imply Malaysia is not a secular country. Indeed according to Art, “All of them was at pain to say and emphasise that.” (Again quoted from his reply in the comment section to Ellese)
  1. But therein lies the problem: with regards to the Reid Commission, what Art says is NOT TRUE; the Reid Commission said NO SUCH A THING. On the issue of a state religion, Art Harun quotes a portion of the Reid Report. He is referring to paragraph 169 of the report. However, what Art attributed to the Reid Commission is missing a crucial phrase which alters the meaning entirely.

Below is what is quoted by Art Harun of the Reid Report:

We have considered the question whether there should be any statement in the Constitution to the effect that Islam should be the State religion. There was universal agreement that if any such provision were inserted it must be made clear that it would not in any way affect the civil rights of non-Muslims — ‘the religion of Malaysia shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State’

There is screenshot below in the footnote.

  1. Now the actual paragraph 169 of the Reid Report is as follows. I’ve underlined the part that Art missed out.

“We have considered the question whether there should be any statement in the Constitution to the effect that Islam should be the State religion. There was universal agreement that if any such provision were inserted it must be made clear that it would not in any way affect the civil rights of non-Muslims. In the memorandum submitted by the Alliance it was stated — ‘’the religion of Malaysia shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State”.

In the footnote is also a scan of the page from the Reid Report where I’ve underlined the part of the sentence that Art Harun left out.

  1. True, it is only half a sentence but with regards to depicting the position of the Reid Commission pertaining to the issue of Islam as a state religion, it makes all the difference in the world. Why?
  1. Because when you read the paragraph without that crucial half a sentence you will get the (wrong!) impression that the Reid Commission indeed held the position that having Islam as a state religion doesn’t imply that Malaysia is not a secular state.

The observance of the principle that the religion of Malaya shall be Islam and that this principle shall not imply that Malaya is not a secular state was the position taken by the Alliance Memoranda submitted to the Reid Commission, and not that taken by the Reid Commission itself.

  1. What the Reid Commission did was merely acknowledge in its report that the Alliance had wanted to insert such a provision. They themselves had not committed to it.

This is not just a matter of pitting my word against Art’s; rather the fact is also recorded by Joseph Fernando’s above mentioned work (page 129) clearly states that:

“In respect of religion, the Commission decided not to make any provision relating to an official religion for the Federation although the Alliance had proposed that Islam should be made the official religion.”

  1. Indeed according to Fernando, in private, the Reid Commission felt that the Alliance’s claim (that having a state religion doesn’t compromise Malaya’s status as a secular country) was a contradiction. Anyway I have scanned the said page 129 of Fernando’s book below, so you can read the whole passage yourself.
  1. Thus, to recapitulate, contrary to what Art Harun claims (that the Reid Commission was at pains to say that Malaya was still a secular country despite the presence of Article 3), the Reid Commission did NOT say such a thing.
  1. Now, the questions are: Was the omission intentional — that is, was Art deliberately tampering with the paragraph to mislead his readers? Or was it a case of simply being sloppy — meaning he wasn’t careful enough while quoting? Or could it be possible that he hasn’t actually read the primary material himself, and hence, didn’t know that his quotation was fatally incomplete?
  1. Lets us consider the possibilities of the above scenarios.
  1. Scenario number 1: SLOPPINESS or INTENTIONAL?

What’s the likelihood of sloppiness? Well, if it was a case of being sloppy, the question that arises is: How come there seems to be a consistency to the sloppiness? Sloppiness usually happens in a random way.

Now, what I mean by this is that the omission seems to serve the purpose of fitting in with the overall narrative of Art Harun’s article which is to prove through the citing of historical documents and statements that Malaya (Malaysia) is a secular state. Within the framework of such a narrative, the altered version of the pertinent paragraph contained in the Reid Commission report fits in perfectly; indeed it is a critical plank — for it will allow Art to present the Reid Commission’s opinion as if the commissioners had believed that Malaya was a secular state.

Furthermore, by dropping the crucial phrase “In the memorandum submitted by the Alliance it was stated (— ‘’the religion of Malaysia shall be Islam)” makes it sounds as if the Reid Commission’s position was consistent with the Alliance’s position and as well as with the other sources that Art cites in his article.

And to achieve this narrative, he must also at the same time exclude Joseph Fernando’s description of the Commission’s position that “In respect of religion, the Commission decided not to make any provision relating to an official religion for the Federation although the Alliance had proposed that Islam should be made the official religion.”

Yes, Art Harun might not have been aware of Fernando’s description but since he also quotes from the same book, how realistic is it that Art Harun was unaware?

And that is why I say that the consistency in terms of sloppiness seems suspicious — instead it looks like an example of selective omission. First Art must be unaware that the quote he attributed to Reid Commission was doctored and secondly, although he himself cites Joseph Fernando’s book, yet Art overlooked the description contained in the very same book which is at odds with his own narrative.

Additionally, the possibility of such sloppiness becomes even more far-fetched when we remember that Art Harun is a lawyer. Lawyers are trained to go through the wording of written material— whether agreements, laws, rules and/or regulation – with a fine toothcomb.

Indeed, precise words are the holy grail of their profession. Why? Because legal disputes pertaining to infringement or compliance of written laws and agreements are in many ways directly related to how it was exactly worded.

Thus if indeed Art was that slapdash in failing to check the veracity of the quotations he uses from the Reid Commission, then it was a very convenient shoddiness — as I’ve said, it fits with the objective of his narrative. Unintentional omission is, by its very nature accidental, and accidental mistakes should happen haphazardly and inconsistently, but in the case of this article, it happens in a pattern — a pattern which I might add, serves a particular script.

And if we remember that such shoddiness is contrary to legal training which pays meticulous attention to words, it begins to look more deliberate than unintentional.

But who knows, stranger things have happened before.

  1. Scenario 2: HE DIDNT ACTUALLY READ THE MATERIAL HIMSELF

This scenario is not unusual. Many people do not have access to the original material — hence what they know of it, and if they are writers, what they quote from it, usually comes from second-hand sources including other people’s writings. But if Art Harun’s citing of the Reid Commission was an example of this, then he should have said so upfront — it’s the ethical thing to do. Or else it will give readers the impression that he has gone through the material firsthand.

But since he didn’t declare that he might have borrowed his writing from another lawyer (just as an example), I think no one can be blamed for having all these doubts about the honesty and integrity of Art’s article. After all, his article and or rather, the nature of the omission it contains, is far from being above suspicion.

Indeed it invites suspicion.

Conclusion

If I was optimistic about his integrity, then I would say that he was simply being shoddy in quoting an altered version of paragraph 169 of the Reid Commission Report — meaning, it wasn’t intentional. Optimism would also prompt me to give him the benefit of the doubt in other ways — for example, he didn’t read the material firsthand, hence, he did not realize that he was quoting a tampered version of the above paragraph.

But if I was pessimistic (some might say, realistic), then I would be inclined to believe that he mislead his readers by deliberately misrepresenting the Reid Commission.

Either way, all the conclusions are negative — being sloppy is not as bad as being dishonest, but it’s still quite an indictment nonetheless — especially for someone who has a legal eagle background.

PS — Please don’t get me wrong—: This article is not about attacking Art Harun personally. Rather it’s about the importance of respecting the integrity of historical documents especially when discussing issues of national identity. The material should be allowed to speak for itself. This entails making doubly sure that they are quoted accurately and truthfully.

PSS — The reason why I write this in Helen’s blog rather than post it as a comment on Art Harun’s blog is simple: I don’t think it was possible to show scans of the documents above within the comment section of his blog. To me, providing photographic proof of the historical material — both the original page of the Reid Report that contained paragraph 169 and also the relevant page of Joseph Fernando work – was most necessary. Or else it was simply going to be a case of pitting my word against Art Harun’s.

Additionally, Art’s article has also been published by The Malaysian Insider, which means that to the TMI editors, Art’s article was significant enough to deserve a wider airing. Unfortunately a wider airing for something that contains a fatal factual mistake pertaining to historical material will also mean compounding and spreading the disease of historical fallacy.

We all know how readers love to disseminate through e-mail and Facebook the articles which appear in the pro-opposition websites. Even though Helen’s blog is not a news portal that can match the large circulation of TMI, nonetheless she has agreed to hosting my rebuttal so that the fundamental error contained in Art Harun’s article can be pointed out.

After all, that is the purpose of a responsible blog — to encourage informed and honest discussion.

ArtArticleTMIpara

Relevant paragraph of Art Harun’s article in TMI

Secular or non-secular What history tells usArt HarunThu Nov 08 2012 2012-11-30 17-33-05

Click 2x to enlarge

ArtBlogPara

The relevant paragraph in Art’s blog

ARTiculations Secular or non-secular What history tells us 2012-11-30 17-28-44

Click 2x to enlarge

Reid Report

Reid Report paragraph 169

TheMakingOfTheMalayanConstitution

ArtrepliesEllese3

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42 Komen Add your own

  • 1. Waris Malaya  |  November 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Shoddy research, writing or ‘citizen journalism’ is at times intentional to support a specific agenda. Just ask Kua Kia Soong.

    Balas
  • 2. Vish  |  November 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    So your contention is that it wasn’t the Reid Commission that wanted Malaya to be a secular state but it was UMNO/the Alliance that did?

    Balas
    • 3. Helen Ang  |  November 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      No, you’ve mis-framed the issue.

      As far as I understand from my general reading:

      (1) The Malay rulers initially hadn’t wanted that particular article stating the Religion of the Federation b’cos they feared it would interfere with their own authority as the heads of Islam in their respective states.

      (2) The Alliance memoranda said Article 3 would not imply that Malaya is not secular.

      (3) The Reid Commission – being the legal brains – had reservations about what the politicians (Alliance memoranda) so glibly pronounced.

      Read this article by a History professor in the NST. I found his explanation most helpful in sorting out the arguments.

      http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/is-malaysia-an-islamic-or-secular-state-1.171584

      Balas
      • 4. Vish  |  November 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

        History professor, UMNO member and former MP? Gee whiz.

        Ignoring his decided bias, doesn’t he sorta shoot himself in the foot when he argues that the Founding Father’s within the Alliance were not recognized authorities (i.e. theologians) to determine the issue but then goes forth to expound his own theological views on secularism (despite being a history professor and not a theologian)?

        Talk about digging your own grave.

        Balas
        • 5. Helen Ang  |  November 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm

          Can you try to address his arguments squarely other than harp on his Umno link?

          I can also say you have a “decided bias” too as a Pakatan supporter (just guessing, I may be wrong).

          He said:

          “none of them were recognized authorities on the inter-related issue of secular states and secularism, or its relationship to religion and Islamic States. It should be noted that the issue of an Islamic State has theological dimensions, yet none of them were theologians.”

          (1) So far so good? You’re not disputing the above with regard to the Tunku, Tun Razak, Tun Dr Ismail, Tan Cheng Lock, Ng Ek Teong, Tan Siew Sin, Lim Chong Eu, Tun Sambanthan and the rest of the Umno-MCA-MIC reps. They are not theologians, as Dr Malik has stated.

          (2) As for his credentials as a former UM professor of history, that’s easily verifiable through a Google search and on the academic papers he’s authored. So no quarrel here either?

          (3) So your bone to pick is this: He “then goes forth to expound his own theological views on secularism”.

          So tell us which part of his views you’re categorizing as theological?

          To you it’s perfectly valid for a lawyer (Art Harun) to pronounce on the matter even though he’s not a theologian nor an expert on secularism (let’s say this is the field of a sociology or political science professor).

          But when a historian gives his views, you scoff that he’s not qualified to do so?

          Balas
          • 6. Vish  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 4:53 am

            Let’s clarify:

            1. Not once did I say that Art Harun was remotely qualified to be viewed as an authority on the matter.

            2. You’re right, I do have a bias. Not as an Pakatan supporter though but as a firm secularist.

            3. My contention against Malik Munip is that following his own argument, then he himself is no more qualified than Art Harun.

            4. Everything about Malik Munip’s discussion of secularism, its tenants, and so on – that’s pure theology. If the founding fathers were not qualified to deal with such matters – is Malik Munip more qualified?

            5. The entire second half of his article, especially his ‘acid test’ of a secular state thus collapses under the weight of his own contorted logic.

            6. Additionally, just as his credentials as a UM professor of history are verifiable through a simple Google search, so too are the criticism he has drawn from his peers for his role in not providing an autonomous view of local history for official teaching in schools.

            7. Assuming such criticism has some foundation – it further strengthens the perception of Malik Munip’s particular bias.

            8. Getting back to the issue at hand though, the statement in the Reid Commissions report (as per your correction of Art Harun) seems to make it clear that regardless of their qualifications the founding fathers did intend that Malaya be a secular nation.

            9. Perhaps in the implementation something changed. But in my personal opinion (read: not as an authority), the real question that should be asked is: Should we be a secular nation now?

            Balas
            • 7. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 6:52 am

              Okay, you did not say that Art Harun was qualified to be viewed as an authority. You did however make sweeping statements about Dr Malik not being any kind of authority, to wit “Umno member”, “shoot himself in the foot”, “digging [his] own grave”.

              Unless you present your own credentials, it is churlish for you to rubbish his essay without producing any counter argument of your own.

              Following your modus operandi, even I can simply comment on, let’s say, a Paul Krugman article and dismiss him by making sweeping statements like the following (in YOUR style):

              “naturally Krugman would say that, he’s a member of the Liberals Club”

              (as a liberal), it’s obvious he’s “decidedly biased”

              “he just shot himself in the foot”, “he dug his own grave”

              “Everything about Krugman’s discussion on economy of scale and its tenets, and so on – that’s pure theory and impossible to apply”

              “The entire second half of Krugman’s article, especially his ‘acid test’ of the liquidity trap thus collapses under the weight of his own contorted logic”

              Additionally, just as his credentials as a Princeton professor of economics are verifiable through a simple Google search, so too are the criticisms he has drawn from his peers for his suggestion that the USA needs more government spending and stimulus when the country is running a trillion-dollar deficit, no wonder his ideas are sniggered at as not only laughable but sheer madness”

              See. How easy it is to rubbish even Paul Krugman using the frame of your words without producing any iota of factual rebuttal.

              I recommended Dr Malik’s article b’cos to me his explanation cuts through the knots.

              From your response, it’s clear that you’ve not come here to comment in good faith.

              As I’ve demonstrated above, if anyone is really determined to make sweeping statements masquerading as criticism, even a layman can rubbish the expert by employing your stock dismissive phrases.

              Balas
          • 8. Vish  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm

            I think you missed the point quite completely.

            Malik Munip ‘shot himself in the foot’ and ‘dug his own grave’ on the merits of his own logic.

            The entire premise by which he cast aspersions on the founding father’s assertion that Malaya should be a secular state is that ‘they were not theologians’.

            That same premise should apply to him too then?

            Despite your insistence that I am rubbishing Malik Munip without facts – that simple logical contortion he puts forth is exactly what I am contending.

            Long story short – in that article he’s pretty much rubbishing himself.

            Unless you haven’t been reading, I can only guess that you’re trying to straw man the argument – in which case there isn’t really much point.

            Balas
        • 10. Waris Malaya  |  November 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

          Vish is part of the social cancer we know as #Pakatoons.

          Balas
          • 11. MalaysianinNewYork  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

            Waris Malaya, don’t be so judgmental. It is always good to hear what the other has to say. We are all Malaysians and I am sure we all intend the best for all of us without a prejudice based on religion, race or create but only what should be humane amongst us when we speak out even in a blog.

            Balas
          • 12. Waris Malaya  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

            I will do as I wish with my own opinions. As you would with yours.

            Balas
          • 13. Mycroft Pendergast  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm

            1.Helen, after reading the article i do have to say that vish hasnt represented the article fairly. An example that i would like to touch upon would be when he wrote the following:

            Malik Munip ‘shot himself in the foot’ and ‘dug his own grave’ on the merits of his own logic.

            The entire premise by which he cast aspersions on the founding father’s assertion that Malaya should be a secular state is that ‘they were not theologians’

            2. Actually, its quite obvious that Malik did NOT predicate the ‘entire premise’ of his arguments on the fact that the founding fathers were ‘not theologians’. Apart from the fact they were not theologians, he also cites other reasons for why we should not take the opinions of the Founding Fathers as binding:

            a) the founding fathers never defined properly what they meant by a secular state — in fact they conceived it by negation — conceiving it by what it is not, rather than what it is. I agree with him; a negative definition is rarely convincing.

            b) Malik also cites that even the Reid Commission were not convinced by the Alliance’s depiction that having Islam as a state religion doesn’t compromise her status as a secular state — indeed the RC felt it was a contradiction. To my mind this is a pertinent point — the Reid Commission were scholars while the FF were practicing politicians; thus if the RC was not convinced then there must be something to it.

            Why? Well i think it makes far more sense to believe the RC — whose integrity, scholarship, impartiality and professionalism was internationally recognized — rather than local politicians. Indeed, even the Alliance recognized that the RC had those qualities — which explains why they agreed to form such a Commission in the first place.

            3. Furthermore when Malik describes what is meant by a secular state, it was obvious that he was referencing the conventional literature on the subject rather than employing his own imagination. This is clear when he wrote:

            “The literature on the subject of secular states and secularism is vast; as such there exist various interpretations. Nonetheless, there is a general consensus that the foundation of a secular state is the principle that state and religion must be separate.Consequently, a secular state will have, among others, the following characteristics: ……..”

            4. Now, the question is: does the conventional literature actually describe the attributes of secular states as how Malik depicted it? Well, if anyone had actually tried to verify it by reading up, it will be quite obvious that — just like Malik described — the essence of a secular state is that religion must or should be separated from the state. Anyway for the record, the following are some examples of authors who have written on the subject of secular states :

            a) William Martin, Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy, James Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

            b)T im Jensen, University of Odense, Denmark

            c) Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis, Princeton University (try to search for his paper titled ‘Religious Coexistence and Secularism’

            d) National Secular Society

            e) David Philips

            f) Cecile Laborde, Professor of Political Theory, University College, London

            g) Wiki ‘secular states’

            5. The above is not an exhaustive list — there are other writers. But I think it is suffice to show that Malik’s depiction of how the conventional literature defines a secular state is fair.

            Balas
        • 14. MalaysianinNewYork  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

          Vish, grow up. Your English, professors, theologians and most of of it the politics means nothing when we fail to embrace the truth for the community that suffers in silence. This is not about religion, race or creed but humanity. If we fail and allow everyone else to decipher it for their own convenience, surely we are heading back to square one.

          What is real and what is the reality is not about Helen digging her own grave but her ability to stand against the tide to withstand it to enhance the truth. You, me, at the rest talk about it, digress on it but frankly we have done nothing to improve it. So don’t break your head and see how you can actually contribute in a practical sense without the fear of losing what you have for yourself as a security that only can enhance your own position without any conviction for the community. Lalang Mah.

          Balas
      • 15. MalaysianinNewYork  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

        Helen, well articulated and argued upon. See this http://english.cpiasia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2400:malay-rulers-wanted-merdeka-with-islam-under-their-state-jurisdiction&catid=216:others.

        Why the British insisted on ensuring the ambiguity when the Malay rulers were against is like what happened in Palestine with the British mandate for Palestine back in 1922. It is by choice by the empire with butter on the plate for the chosen few at the particular scenario. Of course in Malaysia at that time was the cold war between Communism & democracy and what better than dictate how I want it even when the Malay rulers were against it.

        Now maybe many would understand why HINDRAF sues the British government. Does it matter in the current scenario for how a constitution was driven or its intention to fit when it was convenient for the British. Shouldn’t we run a referendum for the current generation in Malaysia on what do they desire, Islamic or secular?

        Art Harun has to be more meticulous & careful in elucidating his two cents given the fact it is his accountability not a responsibility to depict what is truthful as it should be.

        Balas
      • 16. Secular Malaysia  |  Disember 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        The historical perspective of secularism in Europe and US should help us understand from their view points. Afterall its their language and terminology.

        So using anglo saxon understanding I can answer and thus expose Munip reluctance to embrace secularism in front of him which is why he said I dont know. Secularism is a big no no to kempung ustaz.

        Is Malaysia neutral towards religion? – Yes. This is secularism europe/us style.

        Does Malaysia give Islam a privileged position in the public arena? – Yes. The UK give Christianity and the unseen holy ghost a privileged position during weddings. Does this makes the UK non secular?

        The US President swear over a bible, does this means the US is a Christian nation? Of course not.

        Are Malaysia’s coercive powers and resources utilised in the service of Islam? Just as much as in US for the service of Christianity.

        Does Malaysia privilege Muslims over others? – No. Or just as much US privilege white Christians over others.

        Does Malaysia privilege religion over irreligion? Think the first precept of the Rukun Negara “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”.

        - No. It is not Allah but a general Tuhan. So its a concept of belief of goodness that is enjoined.

        Does Malaysia permit religion to be a requirement of public office? Think why Ngeh Koo Ham failed to be appointed Perak Menteri Besar.- No. Negh Koo Ham failed to qualify because he is not Malay.

        Zambri qualify because he claimed to be Malay though everyone knows his mother is Tamil. Ngeh could qualify too if he claim to be Malay.

        Thus arguing european concept can only be done using their examples. The basic concept of secularism is still independent individual in democratic system without the unelected priests or ulamas. Thus Iran is not secular because it is run by unelected ulamas.

        The purpose of secularism is just that. To prevent a small minority to control the majority through fear and mythology.

        Does Malaysia interfere with the affairs of religion and vice-versa?

        Balas
        • 17. Helen Ang  |  Disember 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

          (1) To my question “Is Malaysia neutral towards religion?”, you answer “Yes”.

          Can you give some examples of this neutrality? Neutrality would run counter to Articles 3, 11(4) and 12(2) of the FedCon.

          If you wish to assert something, you should prove your assertion. Or else I can also reply “Yes, I do” to the question “Do you have four legs?”

          (2) I agree with you that the President of the USA swears over the Bible. But does it stipulate anywhere in the American Constitution or under any American law that the Prez MUST be a Christian?

          The American Congressmen traditionally take their oath over a Bible because they’ve traditionally been Christian.

          However Congressman Keith Ellison broke the mould and created a first by taking his oath of office on a Quran.

          (3) Is USA “a Christian nation” and yet at the same time a secular state?

          It has a Christian tradition, certainly, and trappings of this Christian tradition in govt (the oath-taking ceremony you mention) but USA is unlike Afghanistan/Pakistan, let’s say, which are not secular countries.

          They do not have Christian courts in the USA exercising jurisdiction over Christians only. We have Syariah Courts.

          There was a controversy regarding a Ten Commandments monument in the grounds of the Alabama state judicial building. A federal judge that ruled the 5,300-pound monument violates the constitutional ban on government promotion of religion and ordered the Ten Commandments (which is linked to Christianity) monument to be removed (source: here)

          So in the US, they didn’t allow a display of the Ten Commandments monument at the Alabama courthouse b’cos of its overt association with one particular religion. However in Malaysia, Islamic mottoes are sanctioned at all levels of government. Go to the Selangor state secretariat building and read the Jawi inscription on it.

          (4) To the question “Are Malaysia’s coercive powers and resources utilised in the service of Islam?”, you have answered, “Just as much as in US for the service of Christianity.”

          In Malaysia, we build mosques using state money. Do they build churches in the USA using state money? Here, our town planning laws compel that suraus be built in the housing estates.

          Compulsory: “Based on the number of jemaah /congregation residing in a specific area which is 40 adult male residents or Muslim families. For new towns or institution development areas, mosques should be built even though there is not a sufficient residing population.” (source: http://www.townplan.gov.my/english/guidelines_muslim.php)

          Do the American have town planning laws that make it compulsory for churches to be built if a neighbourhood has 40 Christian families?

          Here we have all the various Jabatan Agama Islam and their staff. Does the USA have enforcement officers going around and catching Americans for breaking Christian law (let’s take one of the 10 Commandments, the one against adultery). Over here, the religious dept officers catch Muslim couples for khalwat.

          If you say the USA uses its official resources for Christianity, do they have govt departments controlling the practice of the Christian faith as well as govt agencies engaged in Christian missionary work?

          (5) To the question “Does Malaysia privilege Muslims over others?” you answer “No. Or just as much US privilege white Christians over others.”

          As one example (there are many), we have Lembaga Tabung Haji. What official agencies do the Americans have specifically catering for white Christians?

          (6) To the question “Does Malaysia privilege religion over irreligion?” … , you answer “No. It is not Allah but a general Tuhan. So its a concept of belief of goodness that is enjoined.”

          The Rukun Negara is our national precept, the first of which is “Belief in God”. Nobody said that that god in Rukun Negara must necessarily be Allah. However “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan” nonetheless stipulates a belief in God which means our Malaysian ideology does not condone irreligion.

          Or in other words, is Malaysia a religious country (not to be equated with Islamic state ala Afghanistan). Contrast China, a communist state, which is an irreligious country. Are we an irreligious country?

          (7) You say “Zambri qualify because he claimed to be Malay though everyone knows his mother is Tamil. Ngeh could qualify too if he claim to be Malay.”

          I couldn’t locate a copy of the Perak Constitution online to provide you the link to the particular Article stating the requirements for Menteri Besar, so this (below) is the closest I can find online.

          “The state Constitution of Perak requires that the Menteri Besar must be a Malay Muslim.” (Note: Not just Malay but also Muslim.) See, http://www.iium.edu.my/intdiscourse/index.php/islam/article/viewFile/32/27

          However there is a caveat clause attached in that the Sultan at his discretion may over-ride this stipulation.

          Balas
          • 18. Secular Malaysia  |  Disember 6, 2012 at 1:01 am

            Aiiyah Helen, I notice most posters are looking at secular versus religious through the tooth pick.

            What I want to point out is the basics of secularisms. We are all not borned in a vacuum. So in Europe or US the struggle against organised religion like Christianity is still ongoing. So we malays are struggling against arabic influence.

            But it iis worth noting that secularism in Malaysia is not just about distancing the ulama but also the european influenced priests who are lately are as aggresive as the Talibans. And also the Sri Langka buddhist or hindus.

            1. “Is Malaysia neutral towards religion?”, Do you know there are more hindus temple than mosques in Malaya.
            Your articles too pointed out that 20% of parliment are european chrisitanity influenced chinese. These figures are too good for the Malays own good. So according to your own figures malaysia is very good towards Christianity.

            (2) I agree with you that the President of the USA swears over the Bible. But does it stipulate anywhere in the American Constitution or under any American law that the Prez MUST be a Christian? Glad you agree. But does it stipulate anywhere in the Malaysian Constitution or under any Malaysian law that the PM MUST be a Muslim?

            3. So in the US, they didn’t allow a display of the Ten Commandments monument at the Alabama courthouse b’cos of its overt association with one particular religion. However in Malaysia, Islamic mottoes are sanctioned at all levels of government. Go to the Selangor state secretariat building and read the Jawi inscription on it.

            As I said, the US is still fighting organised Christianity even at the last election Catholics wanted to ban abortion even for rapes because they believe American women secretly enjoyed being rape if they get pregnant.

            Islamic mottoes in Malaya does not have the significant impact as the Ten Commandment as Malays are not well versed in Arabic. Unlike US, the evangelist Christians were the one that killed the Red Indian to build USA.

            “They do not have Christian courts in the USA exercising jurisdiction over Christians only”

            Ireland let a Hindu woman died rather than allow her dead baby be aborted. Ireland or US may not have Christian syariah laws but they implement Christian biased views like anti gay marriage or abortion. So do not think secularism is winning in the US yet.

            4. However “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan” nonetheless stipulates a belief in God which means our Malaysian ideology does not condone irreligion.
            God is part of human civilisation whether we like it or not.
            The US frequently used the terms under God, God bless, but they are quick to add that US is not meant to be a Christian nation.

            Communism is an extreme reaction to organised religion like Catholicsm which was cruel to the European people. The people reacted in many ways. Hanging the Christian King, guillotine or shooting them as in Russia. A more moderate response is socialism.

            Chinese people realised that the Emperor had false clothes. Again it is the poverty and cruelty that forced the farmers to raise against the rulers. They were the one who realised that they have been duped. Thus they become irreligious in the traditional judaism terminology. But Im sure they propose equality, fairness in their own way.

            ““The state Constitution of Perak requires that the Menteri Besar must be a Malay Muslim.”

            Dont believe everything you get from IIUM. I believe at that time the constitution framers were more Malay nationalist than Talibans.

            Final note; secularism is a bulwark against Christianity in the US. The bible is banned from schools. The teaching of mythology like the world is made in 7 days are not allowed. But they are still fighting over it. Let hope that freedom and secularism wins.

            If not slavery and colonialism will be back in fashions..hehe

            Balas
            • 19. Helen Ang  |  Disember 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

              I’m not sure what you mean by saying most of my commenters “are looking at secular versus religious through the toothpick” but we’ll let it pass.

              You state that what you “want to point out is the basics of secularisms”. I’ve already done that quoting previously from Dr Malik’s article.

              He writes, “… there is a general consensus that the foundation of a secular state is the principle that state and religion must be separate.”

              To reiterate the planks of secularism, a secular state will have, among others, the following characteristics:

              (1) the state must be neutral towards religion;
              (2) the state cannot give religion a privilege position in the public arena;
              (3) state’s coercive powers and resources cannot be utilised in the service of any religion;
              (4) the state should not privilege a religion or its adherents over another;
              (5) the state should not privilege religion over irreligion;
              (6) the state should not permit religion to be a requirement of public office;
              (7) and the state should not interfere with the affairs of religion and vice-versa.

              It is timely nonetheless that you should point out “in Europe or US the struggle against organised religion like Christianity is still ongoing. So we Malays are struggling against Arabic influence”.

              Does an Islamic state allow temples and churches?

              (1) Does the presence of temples negate the preeminence of Islam in Malaysia?

              You ask, “Do you know there are more hindus temple than mosques in Malaya?”

              My reply: No, I didn’t know that there are more Hindu temple than mosques in Malaya/Malaysia.

              First, what is your definition of a ‘temple’? Are the Hindu and Taoist shrines you find under the trees and in rock crevices considered temples? What about the shrine demolished last week in Umah Devi’s house by the Sepang Municipal Council?

              Do you have any data collected on the number of temples? Does any data indicate the location of these temples so that we can verify what kind of structures are counted as temples?

              Some of the Hindu temples were understandably located in the rubber estates to cater for the Indian plantation workers. Some of these estates have since been dismantled and their land used for new housing projects. In the process, the temples were demolished and the Indian workers evicted to become urban squatters.

              You also say that my “articles too pointed out that 20% of parliment are european chrisitanity influenced chinese.”

              To recap, in my posting ‘Begitu ramai sekali YB Kristian DAP di Parlimen!!‘, I estimated that there are 38 MPs out of 222 in Dewan Rakyat whom are Christian. That’s 17%.

              I projected that in the next Parliament, the number of Christian MPs will increase to exceed 20% or one-fifth.

              I counted a possible 12 DAP Christian MPs, i.e. Teresa Kok, Tony Pua, James Ngeh Koo Ham, David Nga Kor Ming, Teo Nie Ching, Wong Ho Leng, Chow Kon Yeow, Lim Lip Eng, Charles Santiago, John Fernandez, Hiew King Cheu & Liew Chin Tong.

              However, I shall now revise the figure to 13 by adding Lim Guan Eng as this video
              that has recently come to light indicates he is a Christian. However, he has not been willing to be upfront and openly declare his faith to the wider Malaysian public.

              You say that “These figures [of 12 DAP Christian MPs, 24 Sabah & S'wak Christian MPs and 2 other Christian MPs one each from PSM & MCA] and are too good for the Malays own good. So according to [Helen's] own figures malaysia is very good towards Christianity.”

              Although some Christians in M’sia allege that they are being persecuted, we should nevertheless use the accepted yardstick to measure the foundation of a secular state and whether M’sia fits the bill. Ref. again to the 7 characteristics/benchmarks listed above.

              Will Pakatan and PAS allow a non-Muslim to become PM?

              You write, “Glad you agree. But does it stipulate anywhere in the Malaysian Constitution or under any Malaysian law that the PM MUST be a Muslim?”

              To recap, our point of agreement is that the USA has Christian traditions in govt. You brought up the matter of the American president swearing his oath of office on the bible.

              I replied that if the circumstances change, the custom may change in tandem. I cited the example of Congressman Keith Ellison. The representatives in Congress swear on the Bible too but Ellison broke this tradition a couple of years ago by swearing on the Quran.

              To reply your question, as far as I’m aware it does not stipulate anywhere that the PM must be a Muslim although Nik Aziz and Hadi Awang have insisted that he must be one.

              Let’s take a scenario where Karpal Singh becomes PM. Will the Islamic features of M’sia be negated if Karpal heads Putrajaya? Is he going to abolish Mahkamah Syariah, Jabatan Agama Islam, jawatan mufti negeri, Pejabat Kadi, Jakim, Pusat Islam, Sekolah Agama, KAFA, Tabung Haji, Jais, Mais, JAIPP, etc?

              The PM is the head of govt. He’s not the supreme head of the federation who is the Yang DiPertuan Agong under article 32 of the Federal Constitution. One of the roles of the Yang DiPertuan Agong as the supreme head of the Federation of M’sia is to uphold and protect Islam.

              What is the significance of Islamic symbols in our national emblems?

              (3) You write, “Islamic mottoes in Malaya does not have the significant impact as the Ten Commandment as Malays are not well versed in Arabic.”

              Whether or not Malays are well versed in Arabic to be able to read Arabic script does not change the fact that the Islamic mottoes have been there in Jawi before even the British colonized this country. The shortcoming lies in our Malays whom you allege cannot read and not in the Islamic mottoes that people don’t know how to read.

              To sidetrack a bit, the Chinese editors of The Star, its copy checkers and its reporters failed to recognise the kalimah Allah tattooed on Erykah Badu’s body and allowed her photo to be published. The fact that none of The Star personnel responsible for the publication of the photo could distinguish ‘Alif, Lam, Lam, Ha’ did not excuse them and they were still hauled up by the Kementerian to explain their oversight.

              You bring our attention to how “Ireland let a Hindu woman died rather than allow her dead baby be aborted. Ireland or US may not have Christian syariah laws but they implement Christian biased views like anti gay marriage or abortion”.

              Let’s not stretch ourselves too far by going to Ireland which most of us are unfamiliar with. However we can, examine your point about the gay marriages and abortion in the USA.

              The law is not uniform across the USA and an increasing number of American states are allowing same sex marriage. As far as I’m aware, abortion is allowed in the USA but again under varying conditions. I’m uncertain as to whether any of the 50 American states prohibit abortion outright.

              I agree with you that the legal restrictions on these both issues stem from Christian morality.

              Anwar Ibrahim in his interview with the BBC said “But we should not be seen to be punitive and consider the archaic law as relevant”. The “archaic law” in M’sia that Anwar mentions pertains to restrictions on homosexual activity carried over from the British era. These are in the Penal Code under which he was charged (Anwar was not charged for sodomy in the Syariah Court but in the Civil Court).

              Since you have brought up this angle of homosexuality and abortion, we should compare how some of the countries in the world considered secular have allowed both, including additionally gay marriage or an acknowledgement on the legal validity of ‘partnerships’ outside wedlock.

              If M’sia were a secular state, we would be more relaxed about the practice/laws on homosexuality and abortion. The Islamic states like Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan definitely outlaw both. Since M’sia makes homosexuality criminal, we are more like the Islamic states than we are like the secular states.

              Who are the framers of the Constitution?

              (4) You say, “The US frequently used the terms under God, God bless, but they are quick to add that US is not meant to be a Christian nation”. So you’re saying that the USA is a secular country and not a Christian state? Isn’t that what I said (?!), duh. Don’t lah take this forum around in circles.

              On my reference to a paper published in the International Islamic University website that “The state Constitution of Perak requires that the Menteri Besar must be a Malay Muslim”, you have admonished, “Dont believe everything you get from IIUM. I believe at that time the constitution framers were more Malay nationalist than Talibans”.

              Actually I have read (the relevant Article and clauses in) the Perak Constitution in a law book detailing the state’s Constitution. However rather than having you just take my word for it, I was trying to find the pertinent material online to link. However I could not locate any pdf or reproduction of the Perak Constitution in any website except Digital Library which carried a warning that the site could harm our computer, so I dared not click.

              As I’ve explained, the IIU article was the closest I could find online. While it’s good for you to warn – “Don’t believe everything you get from IIUM” – I do wish that Pakatan supporters (not implying you’re one, am just making a generalization regarding siapa yang makan cili) would apply your advice and not simply believe anything that they read on the Internet from unverified or anonymous sources.

              Again, please indulge me a brief detour: A laudable reminder from you – “Don’t believe everything you get from [xyz source]” – yet so many Pakatan supporters were so ready to believe that a certain lady VVIP tramped up a hill (in her high heels?) at midnight to supervise a dynamiting job on a dead body and that another particular VVIP is involved in murder. And these Pakatan supporters have no hesitation nor qualms in repeating these accusations as if they themselves were eyewitnesses to the acts.

              In comparison, an International Islamic University website paper quoting the Perak state constitution stipulations on the Menteri Besar need not tax our credulity that far for you to caution “Don’t believe everything you get from IIU”.

              You write: “I believe at that time the constitution framers were more Malay nationalist than Talibans.”

              The Reid Commission was tasked the job of drafting our FedCon. Members of the commission are eminent jurists Lord Reid, Sir Ivor Jennings (UK), Sir William McKell (Australia), B. Malik (India) and Justice Abdul Hamid (Pakistan). The representative nominated by Canada withdrew at the eleventh hour on medical grounds.

              As a final note, you write: “… secularism is a bulwark against Christianity in the US. The bible is banned from schools. The teaching of mythology like the world is made in 7 days are not allowed. But they are still fighting over it. Let hope that freedom and secularism wins. If not slavery and colonialism will be back in fashions .. hehe”

              Interesting! that you should say “colonialism will be back in fashion” with Christianity (“the world is made in 7 days”) upstaging the study of science. Will you please help to take your secularism message to The Star which is promoting the evangelist personality cult and trying to make the DAP Christians who spout mythology look fashionable.

              Cheers, Secular Malaysia.

              null

              Balas
    • 20. Waris Malaya  |  November 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      An immediate example! Refer to comment #1 above – Nov 30 @ 7:38pm

      Balas
  • 21. Amri  |  November 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    First, Dear Helen, I have high regards of you. May not always agree with everything you write but the way you argue things deserve my respect.

    Second, Mat Rempit Hubris put things into perspective, while many like Art H are simply ‘bancuh’ and ‘goreng’ whatever the ingredients that suit their thinking.

    Terus menulis Helen.

    Balas
  • 22. Ellese  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Thanks. I don’t like people being selective. I will demand art why he left this out.

    Balas
  • 23. atas pagar  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Kak Helen,

    This is an analogy of Pak Art and his attempts at blinding his
    supporters to the facts derived from an altered situation:

    MR Reid is a foreigner and he had an animal called Mammoth. Mammoth is a mammalian whose physical appearance looked similar to an elephant except for its body is entirely covered in woolly hairs. MR Reid handed the Mammoth over to a zoo so that future generations would be able to recognize between elephant and Mammoth. A zoo keeper (MR M) was given responsibility to taking care of the Mammoth. It was housed inside a large cage which is not very far from the elephant’s cage. The elephant is attended by another zoo keeper (MR E).

    One morning, one of the elephant was found dead. MR E was so scared because if the manager knew about it he would be accused of negligence and would be fired on the spot! So he must bury the dead elephant and finds its replacement. MR E got an idea, he stole the Mammoth from its cage, shaved its skin completely off and there he got a nice replacement whereby the physical appearance of it was very similar to the dead elephant.

    Next morning, MR M could not believe his eyes…Mammoth’s cage was empty. He searched high and low but Mammoth was nowhere to be found. When he walked past the front of the elephant’s cage, he noticed one the elephant as the Mammoth that he had been searching for. Even though its body was no longer woolly, he could still recognized his Mammoth by identifying specific marks on its ivory.

    MR M informed his manager and made a police report.
    MR E was brought to court and was charged for stealing the Mammoth. But MR E was so confidence that he would be able to convince the court that the animal in contention was actually his own elephant but not the Mammoth MR M claimed it to be. Using that arguments, MR E thought he had high chance that he would not be found guilty as charged.

    While waiting for the verdict, MR E gathered all his supporters, made them blindfolded and asked them to touch the Mammoth (the shaven one). MR M then asked his supporters one by one: “Is this elephant or Mammoth?”

    When court resumed, MR E had this to say: “Your honour, before you delivered the verdict, can I first show you the proof that this animal is actually an elephant and not the Mammoth? The judge replied “What sort of proof are you talking about, MR E? “ “Your honour, all, I meant 100% of my supporters have agreed with me that based on the physical appearance (minus the wools of course) that this animal is an elephant and by right I should have not been accused of stealing it in the first place”

    IF MR E could make it easy to convince his supporters into believing something which is no true just because they were blindfolded, what make MR E thought that he could do the same to MR M and his supporters? And finally what is the verdict on MR E (aka: Pak Art)? He, he,.

    Balas
  • 24. mekyam  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

    dear helen & Mat Rempit Hubris,

    i have tagged this entry on my fb wall with this note:

    if you feel that accurate quoting of historical records in order not to mislead is important, please share!

    *much as i enjoy art harun’s writings, i feel that people shouldn’t be let off with misrepresentation of facts just because they are more articulate than others. there have been way too much of that in malaysia.*

    it is my little effort at helping disseminate this rebuttal. compared to MI, the reach of an FB sharing of a nobody would be more than puny, but i’m happy to do my part.

    Balas
    • 25. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Thanks. They (TMI network) are a mafia.

      Balas
  • 26. ahmad sontoloyo  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Helen is starting becoming a rare species in malaysia ha ha ha

    Balas
  • 27. jebatmustdie  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Mat Rempit Hubris?

    Now that is a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time..

    Used to read his comments in Haris’ blog.

    Warmest regards to him!

    JMD-

    Balas
    • 28. MRH  |  Disember 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Mekyam,

      As much as it has empowered us, the internet has also empowered misconceptions, half- truths, falsehood, deception and prejudice–perhaps to an even greater degree.To share a quote from Micheal Chrichton’s quoting of John Lawton

      “The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.”

      Thus, if knowledge is empowering, then u might even say that the Internet, coupled with too much partisanship, has empowered our dis-empowerment.

      As such, thanks for your gesture–accuracy and truth can never get enough help.

      jmd, same to you
      ,

      Balas
  • 29. Poseidon's Spear  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    What were the views of the first Prime Minister of independent Malaya, post-August 31, 1957?

    I seem to recall that the late Tunku Abdul Rahman had some pretty strong views on this. And on a number of other subjects too.

    Anyway, the issue of whether Malaysia is a secular country or not is secondary to how it handles relations with the other avowedly secular countries in the region, especially in an era where the traditional concept of a nation-state is losing it’s raison d’etre.

    I suspect that they would be content to leave Malaysia to it’s own devices, as long as it plays by international laws, norms and rules.

    The current controversy in Egypt over Mursi’s power play and the push back it has elicited from staunch secularists in the country offers much to think about.

    Balas
    • 30. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Just in case you missed reading,

      [QUOTE] NST article:

      “Though Malaysian Prime Ministers are vested with a whole battery of executive authority, nonetheless, they do not have the power to determine the identity of a country merely by making an announcement either way. Indeed, if we think about it, even an individual’s identity cannot be determined by a pronouncement—a person doesn’t become a Muslim, a Christian, an apostate or any identity along the ‘faith- atheist’ spectrum simply due to a declaration. To have meaning and force, the declaration must correspond with the individual’s belief and practice. So if by itself a declaration cannot determine the religious identity of an individual, can it determine the identity of a state?

      Nonetheless, many people attribute Malaysia identity as either Islamic or Secular, by citing the positions of previous Prime Ministers on the subject. Hence to shore up their claim, the proponents of a secular state will often draw on the statements of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussien Onn.

      In this regard an often cited statement (but not the only example) used to represent the position of the former Premiers would be from a February 1983 Star report where the Tunku said “The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion”. Another issue also reported Tun Hussien’s support for the Bapa Kemerdekaan, “The nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.”

      Unsurprisingly those that argue that Malaysia is already an Islamic State wouldn’t cite the first and third Premiers. Instead they would quote Tun Mahathir’s following statement in September 2001 to support their position: “Umno wishes to state clearly that Malaysia is an Islamic nation. This is based on the opinion of ulamaks who had clarified what constituted as Islamic country…. ” .

      But with all due respect, there are limits in determining the nature of a country’s identity by simple reference to a Prime Ministerial declaration. After all, if Malaysia already possesses many of the features that define a secular state, then her secular nature doesn’t change just because a Prime Minister says otherwise. And vice versa—if Malaysia has many attributes of an Islamic state, or a feature that disqualifies her from being a secular state, then it won’t be a secular State regardless of how many previous and future Prime Ministers states to the contrary.”

      [UNQUOTE] from Dr Malik Munip’s ‘Is Malaysia an Islamic or secular state?‘ (16 Nov 2012)

      Balas
      • 31. Poseidon's Spear  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        Unfortunately, that’s neither here nor there.

        Three different PMs with three different opinions.

        “Islamic”, “secular” – two different concepts. With radically different consequences for us Malaysians.

        Is that too difficult to comprehend?

        It’s the “primacy” issue that bothers non-Muslim Malaysians. Because the follow on to that is a whole host of other consequences that have been voiced and documented elsewhere.

        In a “secular” country, at least, the issue of “primacy” doesn’t arise.

        Balas
        • 32. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

          Dr Malik’s article is clear to me. I’m at a loss as to why you are unable to comprehend.

          Since it is not your English comprehension that is lacking, it must be you’re in denial.

          To recap, he wrote:

          “Is Malaysia a secular state? Well, by the characteristics that define a secular state then Malaysia by definition is not a secular state; it violates the principle attributes of a secular state on multiple fronts. Breaches to the [tenets] of a secular state are not the exception; it is almost the rule. In Malaysia, religion is not separated from the state but entrenched, empowered, enforced, expressed and elevated.

          “Hence, does this mean Malaysia is an Islamic State? My answer is: I don’t know; I have no idea what a universally accepted Islamic state in the contemporary world looks like. But it does mean Malaysia disqualifies from being a secular state.”

          A secular state will have, among others, the following characteristics (I shall paraphrase Dr Malik):

          You answer Yes or No.

          Is Malaysia neutral towards religion?

          Does Malaysia give Islam a privileged position in the public arena?

          Are Malaysia’s coercive powers and resources utilised in the service of Islam?

          Does Malaysia privilege Muslims over others?

          Does Malaysia privilege religion over irreligion? Think the first precept of the Rukun Negara “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”.

          Does Malaysia permit religion to be a requirement of public office? Think why Ngeh Koo Ham failed to be appointed Perak Menteri Besar.

          Does Malaysia interfere with the affairs of religion and vice-versa?

          You’re an intelligent person. What’s so difficult figuring it out?

          In Oct, I discussed ‘Secularism and how does M’sia compare with the Turkish model?

          You can read that as well.

          For what can and has happened in other Muslim countries, read, ‘Amending Constitution to put a seal on Islamic state‘.

          Balas
  • 33. sicfallacy  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Looks like people tend to see Malaysia in either two opposite entity: either pure secular or pure Islamic state. They somehow cannot appreciate the combination between these two.

    For me, Malaysia is neither pure secular nor pure Islamic state, since it violates both secular and Islamic state descriptions. On the Federal level, it tend to be a secular (law of the land is FedCons, base on common law), whereas on the state level, it tend to become Islamic.(Ninth Schedule List II).

    Balas
    • 34. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation.

      [Quoting Prof. Malik]
      “Through Article 11(4), missionary work amongst Muslims can be controlled and restricted. Yet there are no laws restricting missionary work [Islamic dakwah] to adherents of other faiths.

      “Then there’s Article 12(2). This article has far reaching consequences; it empowers the Federation and the states to establish or maintain Islamic institutions or provide assistance in that process. It also sanctions them to do same with regards to providing instruction in the religion of Islam. In pursuant of those purposes, it also authorises the use of public funds.

      “Both the above Articles violate the principles of a secular state on multiple scores. And these two Articles are not the only one; there exist other Articles that do the same. For instance, Malays are entitled to wear the cloak of Article 153, but professing Islam is a requirement of being Malay under the Federal Constitution.

      To add to the Prof’s input above, let’s not to forget the Mahathir amendment to Article 121(1A) which says that the civil courts should not interfere in matters which fall “within” the jurisdiction of the syariah courts.

      The office of the Yang DiPertuan Agung is constituted by the 1957 Merdeka Constitution under Article 32.

      His Majesty is the head of Islam. Article 37 regards his oath of office , i.e. Part II of the Fourth Schedule which reads (the portion relevant to our discussion): “Further We do solemnly and truly declare that We shall at all time protect the Religion of Islam …” (translated from Malay)

      Article 71 (1)
      guarantees the rights of the Malay rulers, and our monarchs are the head of Islam in their respective states.

      The Conference of Rulers established the National Council for Islamic Affairs in 1968.

      We even have the Islamic Banking Act 1983.

      Our Jata Negara (national emblem) has the crescent moon and the star denoting Islam.

      Balas
  • 35. sicfallacy  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Yes, Malaysia on the basis of constitution, is not a pure secular state. nevertheless, it also not a pure Islamic state.

    1. Generally in Islamic state is the supremacy of Syariah (Islamic law). Syariah law in Malaysia is reduced as such it only cover Muslim, applied to specific group of people, and not all Malaysian.

    2. The supreme law in Malaysia is FedCon (Article 4), not Syariah law.

    3. The basic law (the law of general application) of Malaysia originated and based from British common law.

    4. Syariah law is very confined and restricted. According to Act 355, maximum punishment can be made under Syariah court is imprisonment not esceeding 3 years, fine not exceed RM5000, whipping not exceed 6 strokes or or any combination between them.

    5. Article 121 suggest that Syariah court is not superior court, it is inferior court.

    6. AS such, yes 121(1A) prohibit civil court from interfere matters that within Syriah jurisdiction, but it is civil court that determine what matters fall within Syariah court.

    FedCons is not neutral towards religion. It is not a secular state. And the status of Islam does elevated under FedCons, but we cannot say Malaysia is (pure) Islamic state. It is more suitable if we use term “Muslim state” than islamic state.

    Balas
    • 36. Helen Ang  |  Disember 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Big, BIG sigh. If only more people had bothered clicked on the link to Dr Malik Munip’s NST article, the conclusion he made would have registered.

      He wrote:

      “… does this mean Malaysia is an Islamic State? My [his] answer is: I [he] don’t know; [He] have no idea what a universally accepted Islamic state in the contemporary world looks like. But it does mean Malaysia disqualifies from being a secular state.”

      Dr Malik never claimed that Malaysia is any kind of pure Islamic State. Neither did I. The Articles in the FedCon are raised to show that “Malaysia disqualifies from being a secular state”.

      But we might get our PAS Islamic state yet, courtesy of DAP’s Faustian pact.

      Balas
      • 37. sicfallacy  |  Disember 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

        I did. Just that the way u stressing about Islam (comment #29), ‘hinting’ something that Malaysia is look like an ‘Islamic state’. Maybe I’m misunderstood your reply. My bad then.

        Balas
        • 38. Helen Ang  |  Disember 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm

          As a non-Muslim, of course I want Malaysia to be a secular state.

          But what I prefer is not what it is, and here is where I find the Pakatan spinning not only disingenuous but dangerous b’cos the opposition spinmasters like to portray things as they want their voters to believe the things are, and not the reality.

          The difference is I’m not a politician and I don’t choose to mislead people into believing what isn’t as I don’t need to win anybody’s votes based on selling dreams.

          Whereas the continued career of a politician depends on spinning to keep their voters hooked and to perpetuate themselves in office so as to enjoy all the YB perks. I wish more members of the public can see this instead of hanging on the Pakatan politician’s every word as if it were gospel truth.

          Balas
  • 39. Ellese  |  Disember 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Dear Helen,

    I’ve highlighted the misrepresentation to Art and asked him to clarify. He has now published a corrigendum admitting the mistake and referring to your write. I like this. Art has taken steps to rectify it. It reflects integrity. And to you I thank you for rechecking the source. You’ve made writing on Internet much more credible. Keep it up.

    Balas
    • 40. Helen Ang  |  Disember 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      Credit to Mat Rempit Hubris.

      Balas
    • 41. mekyam  |  Disember 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      dear Ellese, Helen & MRH,

      just a note to say that I’m tacking your postscript and Helen’s reponse in the comment box of the link i made to this entry on my fb-wall.

      Balas
  • 42. Meleis  |  Disember 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Blurghh… The article by Mat Rempit Hubris above is simple and straightforward. The main idea is to expose that blardy Art Harun is not credible as most people think he is.

    It is simple. Art Harun missed the pertinent part of his own quotation that give weights to the arguments that RC, Alliance and the Founding Father does recognize Islam as the official religion, the important of Islam to Malaya, but at the same time guaranteeing the freedom of religion and the status of Malaya as a Secular State.

    What Art Harun did is he trying to hide the truth. He tried to playdown the “will” of the founding fathers that wanted Islam to be an important of Malaya.

    Let’s look at the sentence that Art Harun missed :

    “In the memorandum of the Alliance stated…”

    Lets understand the “Memorandum” and “Alliance” is vital to interpret the intention of the whole paragrapah.

    “Memorandum” will gives a Legal passage to state that the founding fathers wants the status of the religion of Islam (that it is important to Malaya) to be in black and white.

    “Alliance” will indicates that it is the Alliance a.k.a the Founding Fathers that wanted that the Religion of Islam to be uphold and secure in the Constitution.

    By taking away/leaving/omitting the above sentences, people might interpret the whole paragraph or passage differently. People may come to one distorted conclusion, for example : Our founding fathers does not really care about the religion of Islam or nobody in the RC, Alliance really give a hoots about the religion of Islam.

    Hence, Art Harun as a lawyer, to missed this points. This important and pertinent sentence is really questionable.

    So, that is Art Harun’s sin.

    And the bigger part of the article above , rather than discussing on whether Malaysia is Secular or Not and bla bla bla… it is actually and in fact focusing on Art Harun mistake for leaving those important and pertinent sentence.

    For me he left the important sentence intentionally. He’s being demonstrating his behaviour and character as someone that hates and anti his own religion for quite some time. It is not surprising.

    After all, look at Kua Kia Soong works on 13th May, all the sources that he quoted are questionable..Anyway.. what do we expect from PR dumbasses?

    Balas

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

KARPAL SINGH

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Tudung as political accessory

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