Some Malays see the recent brouhaha over the secular state issue as both MCA and DAP getting too big for their boots.
What with the DAPsters lording it everywhere, evangelista aggression (whose prestige is burnished by the MCA media machinery) as well as the increasingly in-your-face behaviour, don’t be surprised if the ‘Something’s-Gotta-Give’ eventually does.
If the Chinese consolidate into one voting bloc as seems almost inevitable, why shouldn’t Malays do the same?
Umno can offer PAS the Islamic state it desires. What can DAP offer the Islamist party?
The Pakistan, Bangladesh experience
Pakistan and Bangladesh amended their constitutions several times to shape their countries into the model Islamic state. Malaysia can easily do the same.
PAS joining forces with Umno will enable Parliament to modify the Federal Constitution. Who can stop the Malay-Muslim MPs then?
Remember that the Chinese-majority federal seats remain unchanged (if not decreased) from the 2008 electoral boundaries. Even if DAP wins big and MCA is wiped out, Chinese representatives will be maintained at more or less the same number.
As for any PKR Members of Parliament (the party had only one MP, Wan Azizah, in the House in 2004-2008), why would they refuse to co-operate with any potential Malay pact to preserve Agama, Bangsa dan Negara? After all, the PRK reps are Muslim too and their DNA is Umno anyway.
Path to Islamic state
We can learn from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
By the mid-20th century, the Indian Muslims and the Hindus had decided they could not live together. So when the white colonialists departed, the British Raj empire was split into two.
Essentially the 1947 Partition separated the sub-continent’s religious groups by marking off the Muslim-majority regions as Pakistan, East and West.
East Pakistan is today Bangladesh, a sovereign nation (also a failed state) after seceding from Pakistan in 1971 following a bloody independence war.
A military coup four years later in August 1975 further eroded the secular character of Bangladesh. The government led by the army and headed by General
Zia ur Rahman removed the principle of secularism from his country’s constitution.
Tinkering with the constitution — Bangladesh
As of 2011, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been amended 15 times.
The Proclamation (Amendment) Order 1977 declared on 23 April 1977:
1. In the beginning of the Constitution, above the Preamble, the following shall be inserted, namely:-
BISMILLAH-AR-RAHMAN-AR-RAHIM (In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful).
The second paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitution read:
Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty
Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and
social justice, which inspired our heroic people to dedicated [sic]
themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in, the
war for national independence, shall be the fundamental principles
of the Constitution (The Constitution of the People’s Republic of
Bangladesh, Appendix XVII, The Proclamation (Amendment) Order
1977, pp. 156-157).
In 1988, Lt Gen. Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who had toppled General Zia, proceeded to modify the constitution again by adding the Eighth Amendment which proclaimed that “the state religion of the Republic is Islam”.
The military leaders brought back religion, relying as they did on faith as a ploy to earn popular support and much-needed legitimacy. They also “found it expedient to use Islam as a mobilizing force”, said Prof. Habibul Haque Khondker in his paper ‘State and Secularism in Bangladesh‘.
Although neither General Zia nor Lt Gen. Ershad were personally very religious men, exploitation of Islam helped to consolidate their power through earning them approval from the devout.
Tinkering with the constitution — Pakistan
Passages excerpted from ‘The Pakistan Islamic State Project: A Secular Critique’ by research professor Ishtiaq Ahmed.
The first constitution of Pakistan, adopted in 1956, declared Pakistan an Islamic republic. The head of state was to be a Muslim.
Further, it contained a commitment to bring all laws into conformity with Islam. It could not be put into operation because the civilian government was overthrown in a military coup in October 1958. Nevertheless, the commitment to bring all laws into conformity with the Quran and Sunna was celebrated by the ulama as a firm and irreversible commitment to gradually convert Pakistan into a state consonant with their idea of an all-embracing Shariah.
The second Pakistani constitution adopted in 1962 by the military strongman, General Mohammad Ayub Khan, initially declared Pakistan simply as a republic, but immediately protests from the ulama and other conservatives resulted in the first amendment which restored the epithet “Islamic,” and Pakistan was again called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In any case, the second constitution reiterated the commitment to bring all laws into conformity with Islam.
The third constitution of 1973 went even further in ascribing an Islamic character to Pakistan. This time it was adopted by a newly elected National Assembly dominated ironically by the Pakistan People’s Party, which was led by the Islamic socialist, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Thus, unlike the first two constitutions that only required the president of the republic to be a Muslim, the third required the prime minister to be a Muslim too.
It further obliged both of them [the Pakistan Muslim president and the Pakistan Muslim prime minister] to take an oath testifying their belief in the finality of Prophet Muhammad’s mission. Such a concession was a significant gain for the Islamists because it effectively excluded a potential candidate from the Ahmadiyya sect from qualifying as the Ahmadis did not conform to the finality of Muhammad’s prophethood.
It was converted into a constitutional and legal provision when, in 1974, the National Assembly declared the Ahmadiyya sect non-Muslim.
Later, Bhutto was to concede to the demand of the ulama for a ban on horseracing and gambling and on alcoholic drinks.
Dar al-Harb and kafir harbi
According to Prof. Ishtiaq, the ulama’s fundamental standpoint that divine laws must reign supreme in the state was strengthened by the formula that elected representatives are not allowed to make human laws which contradict the Shariah.
Spearheading the Islamist movement in Pakistan was Syed Abul Ala Maududi, supreme leader of the main Islamist party Jama’at-e-Islami.
Maududi wanted the classical Islamic idea of Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (enemy territory) to be observed by the state.
“It meant that the Islamic state could establish peace with its neighbours through treaties but in the ultimate sense no real peace could be consolidated between the world of Islam and non-Muslims, and Dar al-Islam was bound to prevail universally at some future point in time,” writes Prof. Ishtiaq.
Maududi’s thoughts are, needless to say, more familiar to the PAS politicians than they are to Umno. It’s PAS that is master of the Islamist political vocabulary, and not Umno politicians like de facto law minister Nazri Aziz who stopped short of labelling Malaysia an Islamic state.
Reading the tea leaves
The Pakatan people – with DAP politicians taking the lead – are busy demonizing Chua Soi Lek and MCA as anti-Islam.
The Umno people acting almost reflexively to convention are also busy denouncing Lim Kit Siang and DAP as anti-Islam.
Between them, the DAP (major) and the MCA (minor) make up for the overwhelming share of Chinese representation.
Never mind that the lines of fire are crossing in the shootout. What happens is that PAS Malays are persuaded that MCA Chinese are anti-Islam. Meanwhile Umno Malays are persuaded that DAP Chinese are anti-Islam.
What’s the end result? ALL Chinese end up being seen as anti-Islam.
Then the Chinese will be considered kafir harbi – not that some are not already viewed as such – and treated accordingly. And a political solution will be found to resolve the pockets of Dar al-Harb, those areas where its inhabitants think “Malaysia belongs to Jesus“.