No Islamic state for DAP, says Karpal
KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Despite the seemingly concrete alliance between DAP and PAS under the umbrella of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the rush for ulamas by secular parties Umno and PKR, DAP’s age-old stand against the formation of an Islamic state still remains.
While PR still dreams of capturing Putrajaya and ending Barisan Nasional’s (BN) iron grip on the country, the lingering question is: with the setting up of PR, is DAP now willing to accept PAS’s struggle to build an Islamic state in Malaysia?
For DAP national chairman Karpal Singh, the answer remains no.
“It is impossible for DAP to compromise on that. We cannot compromise for the country to turn into an Islamic state (if PR takes over the government in the future).
“It is a secular state. I believe the late Tunku Abdul Rahman has mentioned that before about Malaysia,” the veteran politician told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview.
Karpal, who turns 70 today, said that in the past there had been no confusion about Malaysia’s status as a secular state.
The veteran lawyer blamed former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed for changing the reality of the country as a secular state, through political statements made by him in the past which had “confused people” as to the identity of Malaysia.
“The constitution provides for itself. There is nothing in the constitution which says that Malaysia is an Islamic state. Malaysia’s official religion is Islam, but it does not mean it is an Islamic state,” said the DAP strongman.
PAS which is perceived by many to have made inroads among the non-Muslim population, claim that DAP has started to understand and accept PAS’ idea of an Islamic state.
Despite the Islamist’s party’s obvious rebranding in adopting a more liberal and progressive stand, what is clear is that PAS has not given up on the formation of an Islamic state.
Karpal appeared genuinely shocked when told that the Islamist party, during ceramah have been actively telling people that DAP “is slowly accepting the concept of an Islamic state, and respects PAS’ stand on that.”
He insisted that it all fell back on the laws of the land.
“In 1988, back then the Supreme Court had decided that Malaysia was a secular state.
“In 1990, during a ceramah in Sungai Pinang, newspapers had quoted me as saying “Islamic state over my dead body.”
“They (reporters) didn’t report the context of my statement then. I had said that in relation to the constitution. But my stand back then, stays the same now,” added Karpal.
The alliance between DAP and PAS have already been forged prior to PR.
Back in 1999, the two had formed Barisan Alternatif (BA), a short-lived Opposition coalition which ebbed away into disarray after a few years together due to the Islamic state issue.
One of the main reasons for the split was because of the vast ideological difference between the two parties.
“We have had alliances in the past, but it failed. What is different now is that we are united in getting rid of the common enemy, which is Barisan Nasional.
“Right now, this is our most urgent concern, to take over Putrajaya from BN.”
But what happens after PR becomes the federal government?
Karpal admitted that right now he did not see how either PAS or DAP could come to a compromise with this issue.
“There will come a time when we will have to face this fact. How do we compromise? If DAP compromises, it means that it accepts Malaysia as an Islamic state, and if PAS compromises, it settles for a secular state and this would go against their own principles.
“What is keeping Pakatan together is PKR. Without PKR, it would have been the same situation as before,” said Karpal.
The Bukit Gelugor MP made reassuring noises that the matter has always been discussed by the DAP.
But what seems clear is that DAP and PAS will only address the issue if they actually win majority votes in the nest general elections.
Party insiders within DAP are optimistic that there is still hope for PAS to change its stand on the Islamic state issue.
“PAS’ liberal, progressive young leaders are the key to achieving a proper understanding of a compromise.
“Should they rise in ranks within the party, then we have a good chance to talk to the party leadership, to make them understand,” said a DAP MP who spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to the DAP insider, while the Ulama still maintained control of the party leadership, the talks could not yet take place.
“Once PR takes over the government, PAS will see the rationale and necessity of a compromise. But we have to be patient. We cannot be seen to push these progressive leaders to the top, we will cross the bridge when it comes,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Umno last week took in 40 ulama who are seen as progressive and influential among pious urban Malays while PKR has also recruited preachers to get the rural Malay vote.
The trend suggests religiosity will play a major role in the next elections as most Malaysians shed race as their difference when voting due to acceptance of a two-coalition state.