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Malaysia is not a religious state, all citizens enjoy freedom in religious belief

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 00:00

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) strongly maintains that, just because the word “secular” was nowhere stated in any part of the Federal Constitution, it does not mean to say that Malaysia is not a secular state. The YBAM expressed its profound regret over the response during the question-and-answer session in Parliament by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri that Malaysia was “never declared a secular state”.

Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution states: Islam is the Religion of Federal, but other religions can be practised peacefully and harmoniously in any part of the Federation. Consideration was taken by Reid Commission whether to include Islam as Religion of Federal while drafting the Federal Constitution. It was stated in its report that: “According to the existing general agreement, it must be stated clearly that it will not affect the civil rights of the non-Muslims in any form when such clause is included in the Constitution. It is clearly stated in the memorandum tendered by the Alliance that: “Islam is the Religion of Federal of Malaya. The observance of this principle should not make the non-Muslims not to have their own belief and practise their religions. This does not mean that the country is not a secular state.”

It is mentioned in the article entitled “The position of Islam in the Federation Constitution of Malaysia” as published in the book entitled “Constitution of Malaysia: The Development between 1957 -1977” that it is the unanimous proposal by the political parties in the Alliance to include “Islam is the Religion of the Federal” while drafting Article 3 of the Federal Constitution and the main aim of making Islam as the Religion of Federal is for protocol purpose.

It was mentioned in the official report of the legislative assembly on 1 May 1958 where Tunku Abdul Rahman, the then Prime Minister said clearly during the Federal Legislative Meeting that: “I’d like to clearly state that this country is not an Islamic state as it is generally assumed, we only stipulate Islam as the Religion of Federal of the country.”

Our elder generations, in the process of fighting for independence through the political parties in the Alliance and the concerted proposal on the Federal Constitution, had clearly expressed that the Federation is not established on religion as its social contract. They only stipulated that Islam is the Religion of Federal of the country.

YBAM was puzzled over Nazri’s response whether he insinuated that Malaysia is established on religion when he rejected that Malaysia is a secular state. YBAM hopes that the government could give a precise stand on this issue.