Thursday, 19 July 2007

Malaysia An Islamic State?

The Deputy Prime Minister made a statement recently that Malaysia is an Islamic state and it generated a huge debate for the past two days. The Internal Security Ministry has now banned all main stream media from debating or allowing debates to be published as it is afraid that it may cause 'tension'. Below is an exerpt of the Minister's views:

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 (Bernama)

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday Malaysia is not a secular state but an Islamic nation with its own interpretation.

He said the country had never been affiliated to secularism but was always driven by the fundamentals of Islam as it is clearly stated in the constitution that Islam is the official religion.

"Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state. But as an Islamic state, it does not mean that we don't respect the non-Muslims. The Muslims and the non-Muslims have their own rights (in this country)," he told reporters after officiating the "International Conference on the Role of Islamic States in a Globalised World" on behalf of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at a hotel here.

The conference is organised by the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim). Ikim chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid and director-general Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas were present.

Najib was asked whether Malaysia was seemingly moving towards being a secular state.

"I have to correct you. We have never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern a country.

"We have never been affiliated to that position. We have always been driven by our adherence to the fundamentals of Islam. So, your premise is wrong," he said.

19 July 2007

Media exposure on Islamic state debate banned in Malaysia
Quote from
Malaysiakini today:

The Internal Security Ministry has confirmed that they have given a directive to all mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state.

Internal Security Ministry’s Publications Control and Al-Quran Texts Unit senior officer Che Din Yusof told malaysiakini that they are afraid that allowing such discussions would cause “tension”.

“Yes we have given the directive to all mainstream newspapers. Islam is a sensitive issue. They cannot publish any news on whether the country is secular or Islam.

On Tuesday, Najib said Malaysia is an Islamic state and not a secular one while carefully assuring members of minority faiths that their rights will be protected.

He said the mainly-Muslim Malaysia has never been a secular nation as the government has always been driven by the fundamentals of Islam.

“Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state,” Najib told reporters after he opened an international conference on the role of Islamic states.

His comments have since drawn protests from the Opposition, civil society groups and MCA.

Che Din pointed out that while the two top leaders of the country can make such statements, any reactions from political parties and the public will not be allowed to be published.

“Reaction from political parties and the public cannot be published especially the negative reactions,” he said.

Several journalists and editors were contacted and they confirmed that they will adhere to the instruction.

Some of the editors also noted that they have already retracted some commentary on this issue from their newspapers.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow could not be reached for further comments and clarification.

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