MLC: Malaysia is not an Islamic State, says Tommy Thomas Friday, 18 November 2005 11:00PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Fri: Lawyer Tommy Thomas today told a packed hall at the Malaysian Law Conference that history shows that Malaysia is a secular state.Tommy’s paper on ‘Is Malaysia an Islamic State?’ traces the historical birth of the Constitution from pre-Merdeka days to its current position. From various documents, he showed evidence that the intention and will of both the drafters and people in constituting Malaya was to create an independent and secular nation that will protect and defend the rights of all citizens.

The constitution, he said, was a ‘give and take compromise’ which became the ‘social contract’ between the races. He said that the constitution “reflected a microcosm of the conflicting interests inherent in Malaya’s plural society … it also mirrored the social and political conditions of the time and the desire of the Alliance leaders for national unity and political stability as nationhood loomed”. Tommy added that in the run-up to Merdeka and adoption of the Merdeka constitution, both the leaders and the people were first and foremost committed to achieve consensus and compromises, particularly on communal issues. Everyone concerned from the British, the Alliance Party, the Malay Rulers and the majority of the Reid Commission and in particular, our Bapa Kemerdekaan Tunku Abdul Rahman, first as a Chief Minister and then independent Malaya’s first Prime Minister, took great pains to expressly declare that Malaya is a secular state.

Interpretation of the constitution”No one had suggested in the period leading up to 31 August 1957 that the expression “Islam is the religion of the Federation” in article 3 of the Federal Constitution means that Islam is the State religion”, said Tommy. All the commentators who have studied the issue, most of whom are Malaysia’s leading constitutional scholars and/or Islamic law experts such as Prof LA Sheridan, MB Hooker and Prof Ahmad Ibrahim, to name a few, are unanimous of the opinion that ‘article 3 has a limited meaning and scope, and it certainly does not constitute Malaysia an Islamic state.

As a matter of fact, Tommy said prior to the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were adamant that Islam was not going to be the State religion of the new Federation. This issue has been correctly stated by the then Supreme Court, in a 5-member panel, in the landmark case of Che Omar bin Che Soh v PP [1988] 2 MLJ 55 that article 3 has a limited meaning that the Founding Fathers had intended, expressly stating that Malaysia is a secular nation.

Dr Mahathir’s 29 September 2001 statementTherefore, he said that the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir’s statement on 29 September 2001 during his Opening Address to the Gerakan Party’s 30th national delegates conference that Malaysia is an Islamic country was not accurate. His best guess was that it was ‘made purely for political considerations, divorced from the constitutional position’. Fortunately, the results of the 2004 General Elections suggest that the electorate was hardly concerned about the issue seeming to content in accepting Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s concept of Islam Hadhari, which does not mention that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

Tommy expressed the hope that “having regard to the delicate and sensitive nature of this issue in plural Malaysia … [the issue] will not be resurrected, that the social contract agreed to in 1957 and reaffirmed in 1963 would continue to operate for generations to come, and Dr Mahathir’s 2001 statement be consigned to historical oblivion.

steadyaku47 comment : The Attorney General designate, Tommy Thomas, stated in 2015, at a Malaysian  Law Conference, that Malaysia is NOT an Islamic State. I am not going to get into the semantics of what does and what does not constitute an Islamic State. I am not going to discuss what is the Social Contract agreed to in 1957 and reaffirmed in 1963 that would continue to operate for generations to come. Nor would I agree or disagree with what Tommy Thomas means when he guess that Mahathir’s statement that Malaysia was an Islamic country was ‘made purely for political considerations, divorced from the constitutional position’.…let us deal with the political realities of today : May 2018.

Umno and Barisan Nasional are no longer in government because Malaysian have consigned the politics of race, religion and “Cash is King” to its deserved final resting place : at worse political oblivion, at best they will find themselves seating in the opposition benches in Parliament.

To a large extent, this was possible because the Malays are divided. In one part there is support for Umno and PAS  – a union of convenience that Najib thought would keep enough Malay votes together to keep him, Umno and PAS in government.

The opposition was able to get enough Malay votes to desert Umno and PAS and come on to their side to give the numbers required by PH to do government. There is no debate that when united, the Malay votes will determine who will form government in Malaysia.

Tommy Thomas was proposed by DAP because they want him to prosecute Najib Razak and his cohorts in the same manner that BN assigned prosecution duties to Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah (the same Shafee who went looking into Saiful’s anus for fame, glory and wealth)

You may say then if BN assigned Shafee prosecution duties, then why not PH assigned Tommy Thomas to do the deed on Najib and his cohorts?

I will tell you why! Did we not object to TS Shafee being assigned prosecution duties by BN? We are past that. As much as we want Najib and his cohorts to pay for their crimes, what is more critical is the rule of law and our belief that what PH has put in place within the Judiciary, will be able and competent enough to prosecute and convict those who have done wrong without the punitive aspect that a Tan Sri Shafee brought to his prosecution duties. There is no need for a Tommy Thomas to do a TS Shafee on Najib Razak or anybody else! We want the Courts under the PH government to be able to do this competently without the need of someone like TS Shafee. There are so many capable people out there, irregardless of race, who are as qualified and as capable …and more critical…people who are more neutral than Tommy Thomas to do the AG job. 

If Tommy Thomas is capable and well qualified to do the job of being Attorney General, then why not appoint Tommy Thomas as AG? 

I will tell you why not!

Terry Thomas will be the excuse that Umno, PAS and anyone else can and will use to unite the Malays. You and I know the realities in Malaysia : YOU CANNOT TOUCH ISLAM !!! We cannot afford for the Umno led BN and PAS  to try and make a comeback as the saviour of Islam !!!   

Who then if not Tommy Thomas?

There is Tan Sri Azhar Mohamad, the current Federal Court Judge. He was the head of prosecution last time and was said to be the candidate for the new Chief Justice and there are others regardless of race or religion who cannot be use by Umno, PAS or BN as an excuse to unite the Malays and Muslims against our PH government. 

GE14 has been a hard fought victory over 60 years in the making. Let not the appointment of an Attorney General be the reason for us to rue the day when we recklessly gave the UMNO led BN and PAS the reason to unite the Malays against Pakatan Harapan . 

Tun Dr  Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan must think again about the appointment of Tommy Thomas as AG. In his place, find someone, irregardless of race, to appoint as AG. Not because the Sultans are against his appointment, but because it is the right thing to do if we want to ensure that PH remains in government with the support of all Malaysians, irregardless of race. Enough said.