By Athi Shankar
GEORGE TOWN: Former Lord President Salleh Abas should give a lecture on the country’s constitutional law to PAS Islamic state enthusiasts, said DAP chairman Karpal Singh
He said Salleh should tell PAS leaders and members on the Supreme Court 1988 decision that explicitly declared Malaysia as a secular nation, not an Islamic one.
He indicated Salleh would be the most appropriate legal brain to advise PAS leadership to stop its pursuit to establish an Islamic state if Pakatan Rakyat took over Putrajaya.
“Salleh Abas should give a lecture to PAS leaders and members on it,” he told newsmen here today.
Salleh, a PAS member, was formerly an executive councillor in PAS Terengganu government and Jertih assemblyman (1999 – 2004).
On Feb 29, 1988, he headed a five-man Supreme Court (as Federal Court was known then) bench to hear a criminal appeal of Che Omar Che Soh vs PP and Wan Jalil Wan Abdul Rahman and Anor vs PP.
In his judgment, Salleh Abas said “We have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in the country is still what is is today, secular law … Until the law and the system is changed, we have no choice but to proceed as we are doing today.”
Referring to this, Karpal, indicated that that Supreme Court conclusion clearly stated that the country was a secular state.
“The Supreme Court declared that secular laws are applied in this country, not that of Islamic laws.
“Only a secular state will have secular laws,” insisted Karpal, a senior lawyer and parliamentarian.
Like system of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, he said secular system formed the basis of the 1957 Federal Constitution.
Thus, no matter how many times constitutional amendments can be made, he said the basic structure of the Federal Constitution shall never be amended.
He said even with a parliamentary two-thirds, PAS cannot declare the country an Islamic state because it violated a fundamental foundation of the Federal Constitution.
“Secular state is among the basic structures of the Constitution. You cannot amend the basic structure.
“A secular state is one of the foundations of the Constitution. It cannot be amended.
“We can cut off branches here and there but we can’t pull out the tree altogether,” he pointed out.
Hence, he rubbished political arguments that PAS would amend the Constitution to declare the country an Islamic state.
Reiterating DAP’s stand to oppose any PAS move to declare an Islamic theocratic state, he said PAS insistence to form an Islamic was inconsistent, contravention and open defiance against the Federal Constitution.
“It’s also a non-acceptance of the Supreme Court ruling in 1988.
PAS Islamic state defies the Supreme Court decision made by Salleh Abas,” said Karpal, who has been Pakatan’s strongest opponent against PAS Islamist agenda.
He said he hoped PAS leaders would refrain from making ‘pro-Islamists’ statements in the interests of Pakatan.
“I have to make it clear that I’m only responding to their statements out of necessity,” he said.
He also slammed former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamed for his ‘unconstitutional’ declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state during the Gerakan national delegates’ conference in September 2001.
He said Dr Mahathir’s declaration contradicted the ‘Secular State’ stance adopted by his predecessors, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein and Hussein Onn.
“Dr Mahathir declaration was mischievous declaration without any legal backing.
“He knows the country can be made an Islamic state,” chided Karpal.
He said as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir should be well-versed in the country’s constitutional provisions.
“But Dr Mahathir deliberately did not want to understand,” alleged Karpal.
Yesterday, Dr Mahathir reportedly reiterated his declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state when asked about DAP being declared by Umno-linked Muslim scholars as ‘haram’ (forbidden) for opposing hudud laws.
“I would advise Dr Mahathir not to make statements which were without basis.
“As a retired prime minister, he should retire gracefully and should not interfere unnecessarily in affairs of the state,” said Karpal.
On possibility of PAS teaming up with Umno after the next election to set up an Islamic state, Karpal said DAP would be prepared to take them on.
Although he hopes that PAS would not join hands with Umno, nonetheless the DAP chief said” “Anything is possible in politics.” – FMT