Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The leaders are confused

In recent weeks, we have had Malaysian leaders come out with a statement of what Malaysia is or is not - an Islamic state or a secular state, or not.

This issue was raised when its DPM, Najib Tun Razak, declared unilaterally that Malaysia is a de facto Islamic state right from the start (presumably this refers to when it gained independence as a nation from the British). Tun Dr Mahathir, speaking a few weeks later, agreed with Encik Najib but made the point that it benefits no one to press the point, as many had weighed in on the debate by then.

For example, Mr Bernard Dompok, a Government Minister in the Malaysian government has come out to say that Malaysia is not an Islamic state, but a secular one, as evidenced by the words of the Constitution. Mr Kirpal Singh, the activist lawyer, and Mr Lim Kit Siang, of the political opposition, agree. So do most, if not all, minority groups such as the Chinese, Indians, Christians, Hindus, and 'renegade' bloggers.

PM Abdullah Badawi muddied the waters by saying that Malaysia is neither an Islamic state nor a secular one. Instead, it is one that is governed by Parliamentary Democracy.

Now there is enough here for students of politics to turn over the matter till the cow comes home.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country is now suffering from schizophrenia. Why not? When elected leaders of Malaysia, past and present, active and inactive, cannot decide on such a fundamental matter, you'd wonder who can?