Monday, August 27, 2007


Malaysians should try to understand social contract better, says Gerakan party chief

By Chow Kum Hor, Malaysia Correspondent The Straits Times

THE Malaysian social contract should not be used by one race to bully another, one of the country's most vocal ministers said.

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Lim Keng Yaik said neither should it be used to get away with issues that has nothing to do with the historical arrangement.

'(People cannot say) 'You have been given citizenship, shut up and get on with life'. My father can take it, I can take it (such statements). But my children and grandchildren cannot take it,' said the 68-year-old father of three in an interview this week.

The social contract is an understanding forged by Malaysia's founding fathers that has held the country's different races together over the past 50 years.

In the days leading to the nation's independence, a consensus was reached among the indigenous Malays and the large number of Chinese and Indian immigrants who had made the then Malaya their homes.

In a quid pro quo arrangement, the Chinese and Indians were granted citizenship but the Malays were accorded special rights, including political and administrative authority.

Datuk Seri Lim, who headed the multiracial Gerakan party for 26 years until his retirement in April this year, said Malaysians should try to understand the social contract better.

This is to ensure that government policies are not one-sided or discriminate against any particular groups.

Over the years, politicians have used the social contract as a front to muzzle disquiet over issues like the pro-Malay economic policies.

For example, during the Umno general assembly each year, delegates would call for the government to uphold Malay rights, including dishing out more contracts to Malay-controlled businesses.

Those unhappy with Umno's demands - particularly the non-Malays - were told that such preferential treatment should not be questioned as they were part of the social contract.

In 2005, Datuk Seri Lim drew flak from the Malay community when he said that the social contract was a 'historical burden'.

He later clarified that his statements were taken out of context. 'I wasn't questioning the social contract.

I said don't use it to bully people and stop them from talking,' said the veteran politician who first served as minister at the age of 32 in the 1970s.

Datuk Seri Lim, now adviser to Chinese-dominated Gerakan, has carved a reputation for speaking his mind.

Last year, his frankness angered the Malays when he called on the government to make public its methodology to calculate corporate share ownership equity according to race.

This came after an independent academic had claimed that the Malays had amassed 45 per cent of the country's corporate equity - exceeding the New Economic Policy's target of 30 per cent - which indirectly meant that the government's pro-Malay economic policies should come to an end.

On the controversy of whether Malaysia is an Islamic state, Datuk Seri Lim echoed the views of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi who said that the country was neither secular nor an Islamic state.

By choosing the middle path, Datuk Seri Lim sidestepped a political minefield where a sizeable number of Muslims want Malaysia to be declared an Islamic state while non-Muslims want it to be a secular one.

After over three decades in public service, he will call it a day in politics after the next general election.

And the outspoken leader's plans next? He will be helming a proposed National Dialogue Initiative under Gerakan, where sensitive issues will be discussed behind closed doors. 'Rest assured, I will continue to speak up.'

Friday, August 24, 2007

Going to Holland

Sometimes in life we have to make decisions based on faith. We have to trust our dad that he would not let us fall when we are learning to ride the bicycle for the first time. We have to trust our leaders when he told us that cutting us off from the world currency market will save us from an economic collapse.

We trusted and we were rewarded with an experience beyond our dreams. New worlds was opened to us when we could travelled further than we ever had before. We stood tall while the countries around us crumbled and faced political upheaval as a result of the economic collapse.

But sometimes, the leaders we trust and love as the proverbial saying goes " Took us to Holland". The trust we placed in these leaders was misused and taken advantage of. The naivety of the newbie is used to clear minefields with explosives that remained unexploded until an inopportune time.

Are we stupid or too trusting in these situations? Should we be cynical at every action that goes back to us directly? In this era of "scratch and win" scams and the "Mandarin Speaking Court Officer" scams, it would seemed, being trusting is really a fool's folly. Nothing should not be swallowed without that grain of salt and responsibility should be avoided like an expert tai-chi practitioner. Nothing should be regarded at face value and everything should be scrutinized with the Hubble Telescope , if possible.

Even the act of proposing a person to be a member of Gerakan should now be regarded as act of extreme bravery if we do not know the person personally. How many times had we proposed or seconded a member based on the fact it was okayed by the leader? Imagine trying to build a new branch from scratch and you have to bring every potential new member for an interview with the proposer and seconder so that you will not trouble them when the shit hits the fan and they have the denialbility factor.

There must be a better way to do this thing. I have always wondered why any political party do not have an on line application form so that anybody can just apply to be a member. This would have been more efficient and more transparent as well. With the proposer and seconder thing, you practically have to be invited to be let in. Either that or beg very hard.

With such strict procedures, you really have to take it with a big grain of salt when any political party declares that they want new blood in their party or they have memberships running to the hundred thousands or even millions. How can something so difficult be so easy? This is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma packed in a mystery.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Somebody Will Have To Pay

Sorry for the delay folks. Had a few technical problems which is still to be resolved. That is the problem being first adopters. When I bought the Vista machine I knew it was going to be trouble but I had no idea how much. The webcam that came with the laptop does not even work with the driver that came with it. But kudos to the Dell people, they were quick to admit their mistake and sent me an email to tell me about it. They were also kind enough to send me a cd for the new driver, which till today I have not bothered to upload.

The real problem I had was with the scanner. The ancient but cheap Microtek scanner just won't work with Vista. Looks like I will have to fork out more money for a scanner. I guess this is what keeps the computer industry running. Built-in obsolescence. With every new OS by Microsoft, the industry is renewed with new demand for old stuff. When will this stop? Or will it.

Today's paper in the Sun ( has put the Transport Ministry wholly at fault for the RM4.8billion bail out for PKRZ. I wonder if the minister is aware of the papers he signed and its implications. How can Surat Sokongan become Surat Guarantor? Maybe this is to protect the financial industry, so that somebody will pay for the massive loans given out. If the financial industry is not able to collect, the financial system might collapse and we could be in really deep shit.

The whole arrangement stinks, of course. We have one party who is selling the land and then the same party get to develop it on a turnkey basis. The party who bought the land at a high price hands it back to the seller to be develop. It seems all the risk is on the buyer( that is you and me folks) and the seller has already made a bundle without even developing it.

SO who pays in the end? Take part in the survey.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ballot Watch

Taken from the Sun

Ballot watch
Giam Say Khoon

Wong Chin Huat has researched the electoral system, electoral corruption and quantitative textual analysis. He has been an observer for general and by-elections since 2004 for the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas) and the election watchdogs, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel). A Chevening scholar completing his PhD on the electoral system and party politics in Peninsular Malaysia, Wong is also editing a book and lecturing. He is the chair of the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami) and vice-chair of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall's Civil Rights Committee.

He spoke to GIAM SAY KHOON recently on the election scenario.

theSun: How prepared do you think Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition parties are in facing the next general election?

Wong: I think BN is generally prepared by definition to decide when to call for election, so in that sense, it is prepared. Opposition-wise, the preparation varies with the party.
What advantages does each have and what's working against them?

Three things we can look at. The fundamental thing, of course, is the machinery. I think in this sense, PAS is more prepared than DAP and DAP more than PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat).
Another issue is seat allocation and candidacy. I think BN has the machinery ready and its machinery is always functioning well and it would have fewer problems in terms of seat allocation and candidacy considering that it has many resources and positions at its disposal.
I doubt Pak Lah (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) will come out with any grand theme for the election - it will be the usual one for continuity in development and stability.

In terms of seat allocation, they (the opposition parties) have already started talking to each other now and I am sure they would settle on some arrangement before the election. But the question is how much time would their designated candidates have to present themselves to the constituents? And in this sense, if you consider that 91% of seats are in BN's hands and most of them are still being run by the incumbents, then a new candidate from the Opposition would be much disadvantaged because people simply won't know who they are.

And the toughest challenge for the Opposition is that they have not set a theme yet, so what is there for them to secure in the next election? You can't look at things at a very micro level, that is, who is running against who. Most people would care more about the larger picture - what this election means for us.

The problem with the Opposition is that it fails to give a vision, it's not like in 1999 when (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim was victimised and there was a cause to rally for and certainly not 1990 when it had a clear direction of what the Opposition wanted. At the moment, I don't see where things are going. There are grouses in every community but you don't see a coherent or cohesive line (in the Opposition camp).

How will BN and the Opposition fare compared to the previous general elections?

I would foresee BN to do less well compared to the last election for the very simple reason that it is at the peak in terms of votes. Since 1969 - that was the second highest - so what goes up must come down. Moreover, Abdullah has gone by his honeymoon period with the voters.
In any country, when a new person comes in, you always enjoy some goodwill among the voters and after some point, you'll lose that. Your support will go down. In the case of Abdullah, people have had high expectations with him.

He campaigned on two themes in 2004 - one was anti-corruption and the other one was religious moderation (Islam Hadhari) and police and administrative reform.
After Mahathir (former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad), people were looking for a more approachable and softer leader. But that someone still needs to be effective. People who usually voted for the Opposition decided to give Abdullah a chance (in the last election). I think they won't cast him this time. So there will be a drop in his support because of the (stalling on the) Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, corruption and worse still, you have crimes and all the leakage problems.

The question is how big is that price? If you look back from 1982 when Mahathir came into power: in 1982, BN got about 61% of seats and in 1986, it fell to 57%, dropped about 3-4%. The other peak was in 1995, then it dropped from 65% to 57% - a drop of 8%. Would 2007/2008 be more similar to 1986 or 1999? I doubt it would be like 1999 because that was a very extraordinary one.

It might be like when Mahathir came into power and it went down but it might be more than that because in 1986, there was no effective opposition leader. I think the difference between 1986 and the coming election is that you have Anwar. So there is an Anwar factor, but this factor is different from 1999, when the factor was much stronger. But not now. Now Anwar just falls back to be an opposition leader, but still a credible one compared to 1986.

I suspect that if the past can be a guide for us to look into the future, I suppose that you are talking about a fall of between 3-8%. BN would lose that amount of votes, unless there is a drastic change.

If the Opposition can find a coherent storyline to tell the people why you need to consider this, then there might be a chance of becoming a 1990, which I think is quite unlikely.
What do the people expect from the election this time?

I think there are issues that people would expect. Some would be very direct, law and order would be a main issue; economy, I suppose, although some rural sectors are enjoying a boom because of commodity prices. Overall I think many people are still concerned about how are we moving in the larger picture.

The growth is one thing, but the larger question is probably the New Economic Policy (NEP). This is a difficult question because people have different expectations. Overall, it is hurting the country's competitiveness and so many people especially non-bumiputras would want to see it removed.

Can it be delivered? No one would expect the elections would immediately change that, but what would it signal? 1990 was a very interesting picture, you had almost 70% Chinese votes turning against BN, and that incidentally got in Vision 2020 and helped BN to reshape the political landscape.

What an election can bring is that what kind of direction are you sensing. In this case, an important player is Anwar as he is banging on the NEP, so it goes down to whether he can convince enough people to support his platform and therefore the government would feel that it needs to address this discontent. But at the same time, there are people who are worried about change, anxious about any change - the bumiputras - some are basically the cronies, who had been dependent on this and they have the most to lose, so they are anxious. They could also be lower class Malays who may not have gained a lot, they may still be worried that a completely competitive environment would hurt them more.

Then there is the economy, the goals (being set), the direction (it will take), whether the Iskandar special region would work; related to that, how far are we going to stick to the free competition policy and transform ourselves to be more open and market-orientated.
Next, there is the efficiency and effectiveness of the government, signified best by all the leakages, and the delivery system which Abdullah tried to address by appointing a task force, but how far would that work?

While crimes need to be linked back to police reform, the police's ability to address crime and to reform themselves is also an issue. It casts a big question mark over the ability to deliver (results).

The other issue that may pop up to be important is religion. For the Muslims, some may worry about apostasy and whether what happened in other countries may actually affect them. But for the non-Muslims, the issue is the creeping Islamisation. Some people feel that this country is already an Islamic state through the back door, when books by Karen Armstrong and Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species are banned, many people are worried, what's the room for religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in this country?

Other issues probably include education and language, but it may be very weak and it would probably work for certain constituencies, like the Chinese and certain Indians. The overall change to teaching Mathematics and Science in English is not so much the BN policy, but that it reflects a problem of makeshift policies. There are students who are losing out especially those from rural areas. You are sacrificing part of a generation so that the next generation may do better.

Even if there is a swing in sentiment and votes to the Opposition, will it really be reflected in the number of seats it wins in Parliament?

It depends on how the Opposition plays its vote strategy. In the last election in 2004, the vote of one BN voter was equivalent to about three DAP voters, eight PAS voters, and 28 Keadilan voters. The reason for the discrepancy is that for parties like Keadilan and PAS, their support is thinly spread out nationwide. So even by having a lot of people voting for them in the constituencies, the party may not win, so their votes are practically wasted. This is known in political science as waste votes.

If you are going to spread (your support) around and contest a lot of seats and not win in the end, I don't see much point in it. If they (the opposition groups) are putting strong leaders in certain areas and consolidating their resources well, they could actually create a "cocktail effect", in which all the smaller politicians can cling on to a big leader and win. That is what happens in a presidential election. For example, if a presidential election and a legislative election happen at the same time, and you have a very popular candidate, that candidate would help to pull votes for the parliamentary candidates as well. Most people won't bother to actually consider which candidate is better than the other; they make an overall judgment. If you like a particular person and this person calls for you to support all his boys, they will actually get your votes.
We have a constituency system where geography matters. So the system we have now rewards parties with optimally concentrated support.

DAP is in a stronger position as its strongholds are all well-defined, but it would be more uncertainty with PAS. Looking at a few past by-elections, it does not seem that it won as much as in 1999. Certainly, it is not going back to 1999 yet. There is no sign that there will be a revival of opposition Malay support as in 1999. So it is a question of how far it is moving from 2004 in a situation where it can't do well. And for Keadilan the question is how far it can capture the Malay and non-Malay support and where does it place its candidates and what message is it sending out.

It is eventually still a question that most people are asking: where would Anwar be in the next five or 10 years? People are worried that he is going to be another Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah, the former finance minister).

In 1990, 70% of Chinese supported Razaleigh because they believed that there was a chance to have the two-party-system. You are going to have very competitive politics and that would moderate ethnic politics.

But it didn't happen because Razaleigh lost his second election, and one year after that, he dissolved his party (Semangat 46) and returned to Umno.

If Anwar manages to solve that question and convinces the voters that for the next five or 10 years, he will show the way, his party would do remarkably well. Not to say that it would become the next largest party overnight, but if his party can gain 10 seats, that party will stay and become the third force in Malaysian politics.
But if it is just going to win about four or five seats, I doubt it would last long. No one would believe that someone with the calibre of Anwar needs to stay on as a minor party leader, he has so many places to go.

So his challenge would be how does he signal his willingness and determination to lead political reform. It will be important for Anwar to seriously consider this radical idea to position himself as a mentri besar, a state chief minister.

Can he run before the next election? This is just a technical issue, because in Turkey, the current prime minister was barred from running as well, but once his party won the election, they basically changed the rules and vacated a seat for him to run. So it is not really a big issue, Anwar can always come back in a by-election.

I think it might be more pragmatic for him to position himself as a chief minister, because his calibre is definitely higher than being a chief minister, but the good point is you are telling the people that 'I am not rocking the boat. To conservative voters, I am saying that I am not rocking the boat. I am more than capable, you know. At one point I was once the best finance minister. I am capable of running a state, let's say Selangor. Then I will introduce the reforms that I have been preaching and see how far they will go.'

Positioning himself that way may not win him the state, but it will create the "cocktail effect" because immediately you will have a direction where you are pushing.

Keadilan does not have credibility as an opposition party. Both DAP and PAS have been running since the third election and remained as the Opposition. So these parties have a very long history being the opposition. No one would dare to say DAP will join BN. You will know that when you want to register a protest vote and send a message to the government, you would vote for these parties.

But Keadilan would always have this problem, that it is a new party. Since 1969, there has been no new opposition party that survived more than three elections.

On the other hand, it has the credibility to become a new state government because of Anwar, his experience in government, because it is more mainstream. The best thing about a new party being an opposition group is it does not have that lawan tetap lawan (fight until the end) that kind of spirit, but it has the credibility of becoming a mainstream party, mainstream in both senses, that it has been part of the government, it knows how to run the system, it won't rock the boat and it happens to be a middle between DAP and PAS.

So Anwar needs to be able to use that effectively.

The Election Commission said it will introduce the transparent ballot box and indelible ink. Will this make a difference or help weed out some of the problems in the electoral process?
The transparent ballot box will do a little bit of good. It creates a little bit of transparency, but I doubt it will really change much. The main issue in our electoral process is not polling, it is the electoral system. It begins from the electoral system, to the process of people coming in, and the process of casting the vote. But we don't have ballot stuffing (the illegal act of one person submitting multiple ballots).

In some countries, they have ballot stuffing, but not in Malaysia.

It is commendable for the EC to agree on the indelible ink. It is very important, in the sense that it cannot eliminate impersonation, so it cannot eliminate phantom voters, but it can prevent phantom voters being recycled. As the system stands now, we found that it can be easy to recycle phantom voters. If you can get away with one constituency, you can send them to vote in the morning and you can send them to another constituency in the afternoon. You can probably do that to three constituencies.

But to really clean up, you need to clean up the electoral process.

We had a meeting with the Election Commission (on July 3). It claimed that its position is that it can't do anything to expunge anyone in the principal electoral roll. Since your name has been there, it would be there unless you are dead, have been disqualified for crimes, you have forfeited your citizenship or you have been declared insane.

This opens chances for people to impersonate others. The EC is solving part of the problems, but there are larger problems to clean up the electoral process because for the EC, that may involve a constitutional amendment. Because Article 119 in the Constitution says very clearly that you have the right (to vote) once you registered.

What are the other problems that these two measures will not be able to address?
The geography matters a lot and if you can manage to change the distribution of your supporters, whether they are genuine or fake, you may win. To beat this, you really need to do away with disproportionately populated constituencies, get geography out of politics. It is extremely difficult to overcome.

What should be done to address these other problems?

We need to introduce a proportional representation element into our electoral system. I would call for a German system - the mixed member proportional system.
You've observed that the incidence of violence in Malaysian elections is growing, as can be seen in the Ijok by-election.

What kind of violence took place and why do you think violence is on the rise during elections?

There was also an incidence of violence in Machap in which a photographer was threatened. The violence can be looked at in two ways. One is intimidation of the other parties that sometimes happens during very heated campaigning. You shout at each other, so it has the impact of overheating emotions, and you can't control yourself and probably it bursts out into trouble. A more serious one is the systematic intimidation of opponents, journalists and citizens.
In this case, the Ijok by-election is quite scary and alarming. You actually had citizens who were visiting the electorate in Tuan Mee estate and who were chased out by a group of unfriendly party supporters led by a parliamentarian. It is quite bad when you have such a situation where violence is tolerated and not punished. You send a message to by-standers including voters that they could be the next one. With violence running wild, it is hard to have a free and fair election as people cast their votes in fear.

Why is violence on the rise? Two reasons: when the stakes are high, it tends to happen. No one will pick on violence when you have a sure win or sure lose situation. Not much gain for you to resort to that.

The second reason is that you believe violence pays. We need to look at that and say the ones to answer the question are the police. If violence does not pay, no one would actually resort to it.
If this is the case in a by-election, what would you expect in a general election? It would be quite bad, overall, that you have curbed the freedom of campaigning.

The police should ensure that everyone has the freedom to speak but once you go beyond words and use violence, then action should be taken and the culprits penalised. The police have to answer for their inaction over the two past by-elections.

What do you think about the suggestion of the EC of having a joint committee with all political parties to curb election violence?

It is always good to have all parties to sit together and solve problems, but the enforcement is still with the police force. There will be always someone who resorts to violence and then the party leader would say, 'I can't control them'. On the other part, about the involvement of party representatives in the electoral process, it is very important but eventually we should revamp our election authority. We should introduce an EC that includes party representatives to be more even in decision-making to oversee all the issues. But in the enforcement issue, we need the police to be non-partisan and impartial.

Will the first-past-the-post system, which Malaysia currently employs, always benefit the ruling party?

Not always. If you have a swing over the half, you may lose everything like what happened in Kelantan in 1990 and Terengganu in 1999. You lost all just because of that.
In the past, some parties have been the beneficiaries. For example, DAP in Penang at its peak time, gained about 40% of votes and secured about 60% of seats.
The point here is it is not fair.

Election watchdogs and civil society have repeatedly called for reforms to our electoral process but to little avail. This is understandable since no incumbent would want to change the rules of the game if it benefits from them. How can the national leadership be convinced, then, to embark on this reform?

I believe serious reforms must begin at the campaign stage - (a) changing the regulation method from expenses cap (by candidate) to transparency of contribution (by donors); (b) state financing; (c) administrative neutrality - caretaker government and making abuse of state machinery a crime.

Another thing, it is true that most parties have a strong initial resistance against change if they knew that they have chance to win. In New Zealand in 1993 before they shifted from first-past-the-post to the German system, at different points, different opposition parties had said that they wanted it and when they came into power, they just abandoned it; but then other parties would say they wanted it.

At some point, they say it too much, and it becomes true. But I think it was in New Zealand, so many citizens felt strongly about this that despite the parties taking back their word, eventually one party had to do it; they introduced that and changed the politics. New Zealand's politics at one point was more British than the British, strictly two-party-system. You have four, five parties, two main parties and some other smaller parties.

We need to press for the opposition. In Malaysia, we are a federal country. If the opposition is sincere, it can actually introduce a lot of changes.

What role can the Opposition play? For example, we know that PAS in Kelantan can exercise its state government power to take the first step in electoral reform by having local council elections. But it seems reluctant. In your opinion, why is this so?

PAS in Kelantan has shown great potential. It is the time for the civil society to push for more. If you believe in democracy, you should introduce local elections because Article 113(4) in the Federal Constitution does provide for a state law to authorise an election. I asked Tan Sri Abdul Rashid (Abdul Rahman, the EC chairman) could there be any problem for EC to do that and he said 'no'. If the state government wants to do it, the EC can do it. He said that in front of (PAS central committee member) Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad.

So it is a question at the PAS government's court now, whether it wants to do that. And it is also very cheap to run a local election, it costs about RM40,000 to RM50,000 - an estimation by Abdul Rashid - to run a municipal council election. Let's say in Kelantan, we have 12 local councils, it costs less than a million ringgit, you can have democracy. How cheaper can things be?

Do you think boycotting an election is an effective way to push for reforms?

That should be the last resort. The main purpose of election is a job interview for us as the boss of the government to employ who runs the country.

If a job interview is rigged then there is no point. As much as you can, make a change. I don't think you should boycott elections.

Boycotting an election is the last resort to push for reform. If your choice is denied again and again. An election will merely legitimise an unjust system. Unless you are in such situation, we should always push for reform and I believe that Malaysia's politics is opening up. The question is how strongly we demand for it.

For political parties, if you don't have a chance to win, then why don't you boycott just to send a signal. Boycott would be most effective if you do it in your stronghold. So it is actually a double-edged knife, it hurts the other party and you as well. If you do it in a marginal constituency, you won't lose much because probably you won't win.

For that reason, if political parties are pragmatic, it would be the last resort as well. If political parties are willing to boycott again and again, there must be something wrong in the system. If all parties are going that way, that means an extra-constitutional change is not far away and that would be a very sad thing.

(The views of the interviewee are his own and do not reflect those of the institutions he is associated with.)

A Blast From The Past

Taken from The Sun

Transcript of press conference by Gerakan's Lim, Koh

Transcript of press conference by Gerakan president Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik and incoming deputy president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon on Monday, Aug 22, in Penang.

Koh: The president briefed party leaders and delegates about the forthcoming party elections and what we highlighted is the fact that the Gerakan Reinventing for 21st Century Agenda is in place.
It was the result of intensive consultation, brainstorming among party leaders, central committee members and all elected reps, MPs and state assemblymen. And this is the ongoing programme that is being implemented by the party. We had talks about our roles, mission in national scene, national policies, stating our objectives and how we want to realise Vision 2020 which is in accordance with our party ideology as well as outlining all projects that have been implemented. This is actually not a manifesto for election but it is a programme for the party as a result of teamwork and this is what we emphasise, teamwork.
Teamwork is the most important basis for the party to work together,and the members of the team have been very working closely and that is the essense of the spirit of Gerakan, teamwork.
I want to emphasise this, it's not a personal manifesto but a result of teamwork led by Keng Yaik as the president. That's why the team which constitute the central committee members and also elected state chairman, state leaders, had generally overall overwhelmingly contributed to this process of teamwork. On this basis, we expressed our strong support for Keng Yaik for another term as the party president. The delegates had also asked questions to clear doubts, we have also explained that we have held a process of consultation amongst the team and through some members of the team as well as leaders inside and outside the party to Kerk (Choo Ting) over the last few months with myself also holding discussions and consultations with him personally.
But unfortunately, we have not been able to reach any agreement and one reason he said is that because he is left with only two choice. Either challenging the president, he is forced to challenge the president, or to retire. We have offered the third option which is national advisor, and he said insisted that because national advisor is not a post stated in the party constitution, he cannot accept it. I think that is not correct because we have a precedent, we had a convention and in fact there is a tradition, there is only once in the party history the most respected leader, when he retired, he was appointed as the national advisor, not through the party constitution but through a resolution unanimously passed by the national delegates conference. And that is very strong support instead of having a post called national advisor in the constitution. Because national advisor as a post in the constitution, you must always have it.
But in Gerakan, we have only Chong Eu as national advisor for ten years. He accepted the post although it was not in the constitution because it was a special honour, passed only by the national delegates conference and he served for 10 years until he retired from politics or just before he retired from politics. If there is a post called national advisor in the constitution, it means after Chong Eu retired, we had to appoint somebody else. Then it is not special, not something very special, it's like any other post in the constitution. So I think he misunderstood it, although we have actually explained it to him. This was explained that this was the process and yet he still insisted that it's not in the constitution and therefore he's left with no choice.
I hope that he would still reconsider because it is something very special and when this was suggested to him, it was in the context that it was in acordance with a convention and the tradition which only happened once before in the history of Gerakan. I think this point is very important.
Keng Yaik: I am sure the press is looking forward for me to reply but I must say Dr Koh has summarised well in the sense that I don't have a personal manifesto. The manifesto that I will be implementing is a manifesto decided by the party and it is ongoing... it provides the political reform within the party, promote healthier political culture in the Gerakan, enhances Gerakan's contribution to national education and economic policies, promote and foster closer rapport with leaders and partners in BN... all inside here, I was just reading Kerk's manifesto. I'm reading his manisfesto --strengthen the party's research arm and foster closer cooperation and relationship with NGO, all these are inside here.
Koh: This is actually published more than a year ago and being implemented now
KY: Ini manifesto ada dalam party yang mana. Saya sudah cakap, saya tiada manifesto. Ini party punya, dan I think I must thank the delegates that the issue that the delegates conference face today was to decide the successor of the party. The delegates have decided whether it is through the opinions and views expressed by the various states in the last two months but now culminating in that Koh won uncontested as the new deputy president of the party. He is therefore the successor of the party, so it is my responsibility to ensure a smooth succession is brought about. That's why 2007 is the timing of the handover of the successorship, handover of the presidency of Gerakan will be done in 2007. So Kerk says that "if I am elected I will implement the nine year tenure system, I will not stay more than three terms". By standing, he is not accepting Koh as successor of the party. By standing, even he wins, he still wants to go on for not more than three terms. If he is willing to deliver the successorship to Koh within this term, why do you want to stand for president.
Why you want to stand as president for only two years? Why he want to stand? We are already in the process of putting up the successorship and this is Gerakan's way of arranging a smooth handover of the leadership of the party, and not go for elections and ping ping pong pong and hot campaign and all that kind of thing and so, there's contradiction on what he wants to do and what is in his manifesto.
I don't want to criticise because we are not participating in a war, we are only going through an election in the party. So the other aspect is he said he wants three terms, he is not going to stay more than nine years, we already decided that Koh Tsu Koon in 2005 is the successor and we have to hand it over to him as soon as possible.
My good friend says he wants to if he wins, he will lead the party for nine years, by the time, I don't know whether Koh Tsu Koon will have the strength anymore to take over the party. Why is it important that we must arrange for a succession. Yes, he said in his press statement Lim Keng Yaik's on and off, on and off decision to retire and in the end, not retire.
The on and off, on and off is because of him. The party doesn't want him to be the successor, they want Koh Tsu Koon to be the successor. So whenever I say I retire, the central committee say no, no, no, you cannot say retirement.
He is the cause of my on off on off retirement. I should have retired long time ago if he was accepted by the party as the successor. I will have retired. What makes him think that he could be the successor of the party? If it was by popular choice, long time ago, I would have handed over to him. I have done all my best to help Kerk. In 1995, when we enlarged the party from two branches to 12 branches per division, I gave him sole chairmanship and the organiser of this enlarging the party almost handing the party over to him in 1995. In 1996, I went to central committee. In front of everyone, tell saudara Kerk please lah go down on the ground more lah, build up your rapport with the ground, take up the very issues the party stands for, build up your star, when your star is stronger, brighter than my star, time for me to go in 1996.
In 1999, a member challenged him, I went out of my way and called all the delegates to support him as the deputy president because he is to be my successor. 2002, Perak delegates fight him. I went on TV to ask the delegates to support him because he is the deputy president and my successor.
But why this time I said nothing? This time is really to decide the successor because everytime I talk about retirement, the CC ask me don't talk, don't talk, the state chairmen also ask me don't talk, so I went for the last three years to consult the party leadership as well as state chairmen and ask state chairmen to consult their grassroots divisions who do you want and quite a big majority of this team, the Gerakan team, said they wanted Koh Tsu Koon. So I told them to speak to Koh Tsu Koon. If you want Koh Tsu Koon, go speak to him and Koh Tsu Koon has listened to the grassroots; therefore decided to take over because I told the party, this is my last term.
It is in this term that I will hand over the successorship, presidency, this is my last term -- 2005 to 2008.
I am a very relieved man, relieved in the sense that at last the party has decided on who they want as a successor. And it is my duty therefore to ensure a smooth and as quick as possible a successor ... Koh Tsu Koon.
The other thing on him wanting to stay on for three terms, I think whether the president or leader of party should be on three-term limit, we will leave it to the new central committee to decide.
It is a very big and substantive matter and not for one person to decide. Only one person, dictatorship, can decide but I will leave it to central committee to decide. So, there has been accusations of me, I can understand.
That's why I ask party leaders; don't fight for position, out of anger, disappointment and frustration, don't. It is not good for them, it is not good for the party. I can understand saudara Kee Kwong (Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong) being very angry, very disappointed and very frustrated. I think let's remind him that he was put into Segambut, helicopter in and there was great resistance from the ground and I have to tell the ground let him try it out, he is a good man.
1995 he became a member of parliament. 1999, he came a deputy minister. Unfortunately, 2004 after the election, he was dropped as a deputy minister because of non-performance. So, when he became a member of parliament, helicopter in, when he became a deputy minister, same process of choosing representation was made, why didn't he call me a dictator then, huh? You get something, this is good president, don't get something, this is a very dictatorial president.
I am totally disappointed, that's why when I was contacted, I did not know whether to cry or to laugh, very shallow.
The Wanita candidate, Ketua Wanita candidate, says the party should be decentralised. I don't know what sort of rhetoric; she is famous for that rhetoric without any meaning. Nobody understands what she said and she wants to be the Wanita head.
I hope the Wanita members would choose very wisely, that's what I know about Surin Leong, rhetoric without meaning, decentralisation of the party, I think I have to break up my party headquarters and put them brick by brick in every state.
So, I'm not angry. I'm very at peace with myself. I'm actually very happy, and if the party members want me to carry on just that little time to ensure that a smooth transitional period, smooth handover to Koh as the new president of the party, if the party members want me, I am prepared to hold on for that two years to smoothly hand over to him. The party has chosen the successor, the successor is Koh Tsu Koon, not Kerk Choo Ting.
Koh: I want to add that precisely, this process of consultation that the president has gone through not just on the issue of the deputy president and the issue of successor but on most issues, he has been very consultative and very communicative. He's always communicating and talking to leaders. Even at a meeting just now. We definitely all disagree that he is a dictator, he is not a dictator.
In fact, he has been sometimes accused of being consulting too much, everytime he makes a major decision, he will be calling every state chairman and ask the state chairman to talk to the state liaison committee and this process of consultation is very healthy and it is part of democracy. Definitely not a characteristic of a dictator. Moreover, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik is a grassroots man who always moves with the grassroots more than any other leaders in the party and a grassroots man can never be a dictator, that is the most important point.
On claims by Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong that he tried to read the delegates name list but only allowed to look for only 10 minutes and not allowed to copy, it was a procedure adopted many years, many elections ago.
You can inspect according to the party constitution, you can inspect the membership like you inspect the voters list, whether your name is there, whether your name is correct at the state, at the division and headquarters.
It is open for everybody to go and check but we do not allow and it has been effective many years, many elections since the 80s, always been the rule that you cannot just go and photocopy because what is the use of photocopying? You want to know, you can inspect but administratively, it is not a decision made by the president, it is not a decision made by the central committee, it was just administration at that time that if you need to inspect, you only need 10 minutes.
So when this issue came to the knowledge of the president, the president himself said no, you can allow him to sit there and if he wants to copy, don't photocopy because we do not want everybody to come and photocopy. If you want to use pen and pencil or whatever, you can. You want to memorise it, you can. The president actually overruled the 10 minute requirement, which is just done by the administration not by the president, not done by the central committtee.
The president is the one who brought it to the central committee that I came to know about the 10 minute ruling and he overruled it, I think it is a very small minor issue.
I don't see why Kee Kwong would complain about it because he also admitted it was already resolved but he blamed it on the president. He used this to substantiate his argument that the president is dictatorial. It is purely an administrative matter.
KY: This decision to keep the delegates list in the headquarters for inspection, whether it is membership, delegates, and all this is kept in the headquarters. Decision made even before Koh Tsu Koon joined the party. Because the headquarters feel that the delegates list, you can come and see and inspect and make sure a member and a delegate but it was not given to any particular person, including the president because we don't want people to use the delegates list to practise unhealthy politics, surat layang, money politics and is only 1,840 names. Delegates only. We want to avoid all this that's why you can come and see, you cannot take the copy out.
The president doesn't even have a copy and the president doesn't want a copy. You want, you go down to the ground, go to the states, go and visit, go to the division, you meet them there.
We don't want unhealthy ... that's why I quote Kerk's manifesto to promote a healthier political culture in Gerakan and this are part of promoting the healthy, now you understand why.
When I came up that morning for this central committee meeting, when I found out there was this, I immediately overruled the headquarters and just said no, you cannot. I asked headquarters why only 10 minutes, he said we have to put somebody standby to make sure they don't use camera to copy and nowadays, the camera like that not allowed to, whatever it is, get more people get the guards to stand there to ensure that kind of thing, 10 minutes there might be misunderstanding. So I said office hours 9 to 5 anytime for as long as you want, you want to see until your eyes also pop out, I don't care.
Koh: This has been the practice for so long that we have taken it for granted. The 10 minutes was a small administrative matter. It should not become an issue. The principle of it has been redundant for so many years and it has never been raised even in 1994 contest when Michael Chen challenged Lim Keng Yaik and 1997 when Goh Cheng Teik challenged Lim Keng Yaik for the presidency.
Why wait until 2007 and why not leave now?
KY: I offered Koh Tsu Koon, why not you stand for president this year but you ask Tsu Koon lah.
Koh: I feel the president still has unfinished tasks in his leadership. He needs 1.5 to 2 years to complete. There is still uncompleted work in his Energy, Water and Communications Ministry which needs laws, regulations, new structures, new setups and he was entrusted with this responsibility by the prime minister. I feel that he should continue for another two years until the end his term.
On the side of Penang, I also have work to do. Next year is the implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan and I want to make sure that projects and programmes and even approval for allocation to be implemented are in place. There is also adjustments to be made in the Penang government and see how the transition ahead could be made. These are issues that need to be discussed within the party, there are many possible arrangements, we want to be sure that the transition is systematic, very solid basis, not to be too fast or too slow, this is very important.
KY: When they fight for position, I don't want unfortunate incident like the MCA to happen in 1982, (Lee) San Choon went, they did not make a succession, they went and fought for many years and when Leo Moggie was made minister, he retired as president party, the party became deregistered.
All this, as a responsible man, as a president of the party for 25 years, it is my duty to ensure the succession is smooth. If that is ensured, I believe I have that little time left. But the party has to decide who the successor is and they have decided and that is Koh Tsu Koon.
So I want to ensure smooth transition, we are late already, do you know why? Umno has changed new leadership already, MCA also has changed new leadership that is why I knew five years ago Gerakan should decide but because of Kerk Choo Ting not being accepted by the party, that is why I have been on off on off.
(When asked by a reporter about Kerk saying that Gerakan was a Keng Yaik Sdn Bhd, Lim was quick to point out it was not Kerk who said so, but Tan Kee Kwong.)
You all wrong, don't cucuk, it is Kee Kwong who said that. I know what Kerk said, you all are not right. We are still saudara-saudara (to laughter from the floor). Don't batu api.
What he said I have given to him, and I was replying to what Kee Kwong said, not Kerk.
Koh: I have already commented on behalf of him, you can ask the other leaders. He is a leader who has been so consultative and a leader who has been running the party based on full team work and it is not a Sendirian Berhad. I don't know what they mean by Sendirian Berhad.
(Asked what he thought about Kerk's comments that he did not want to challenge Koh whom he said was a family friend)
Koh: I don't think he should bring family relationships in deciding politics.
When he made the decision to challenge the party president, I think he did not make the right decision, because there was another option. The other option is to accept the proposal to be the national adviser, without challenging the leadership of the party, there is still another choice.
So that is why, there was a proposal, that is the reason why I was asked, he asked me to challenge the president. There was a proposed formula which he rejected because he said it was not in the constitution. I thought even though it was not in the constitution it would be acceptable to him. It is special because it is decided at the national delegates conference and it is for the person in recognition of contribution to the party. If it was acceptable to Lim Chong Eu even though it was not in the constitution, I thought it will be acceptable to him, that is why I proposed it. If he had accepted it, it would have been passed unanimously. Every member would be so happy and they would respect him very much. Tun Lim Chong Eu held the post 10 years until he retired from active politics.
(Asked how he felt as he personally appointed Kerk in 1989)
KY: "You are wrong. In 1989, Paul Leong was deputy president and he resigned and the central committee then appointed Kerk to be acting deputy president until he was elected in 1990 with my full support."
(How do you feel about the whole thing, are you angry or upset?)
KY: I am happy not because Kerk has decided to contest but because the party has decided on a successor - Koh Tsu Koon as the new president. He is the new president when I retire, he will be president.
(Do you expect the party to be torn apart by this episode?)
KY: The strength of Gerakan has always been teamwork because of the closeness, team work, team spirit, and because of closeness of the team, the team has to go in as a Gerakan team and as a team, if it is strong, year in year out, one term after another term.
For the last 25 years, under my leadership, the team did it, not me. Because of strength and tightness of the team of being able to work together, there's never fractionalism, camps. That is why there is never a Team A or Team B, there's always just team Gerakan.
Kerk says he can work with the team, yes, I am afraid the team cannot work with him. That is my only fear, if he ever becomes president. He says he can work with the team, I hope the team can work with him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007



It is said that there are three types of lies. Lies, damn lies and statistics. Why is this so? Aren’t statistics supposed to help us make decisions and make life better. Unfortunately this branch of mathematics has long been misused by unscrupulous people for their own purpose.

Did you see the ad where one supermarket compared their prices with the others? The supermarket points out how cheap they are against the rest and why the public should shop there.
Unfortunately they also left out prices for other goods which they know they are uncompetitive. They may also fail to mention that the prices apply only on certain hours of the day, or it is valid for members only.

There is one billboard in the middle of JB town touting the location of Setia Tropika which it claims is only 15 minutes away. Right! Maybe in the middle of the night while breaking the speed limit and running all the red lights.

That is why when Malaysiakini published some statistics on the voters preference by Merdeka Center, we studied it with skepticisms.

KTEMOC pointed out that if we were add up the Chinese support for the opposition, we will end up with 127%. A statistical impossibility if ever there was one.

Actually what I think it meant is that the Chinese represents 62% of the support for DAP with the Indians 33% and the Malays 8%.(Which is still wrong because it adds up to 102%) It does not at any time meant 62% of Chinese supported DAP which I suspect was the intention of publishing the statistics in the first place. But if this was true , it would mean PAS would lose Kelantan very soon because 95% of its voters are Malays. There are very little Chinese and Indians in Kelantan.
And what about the national averages? What could it mean? Does it mean 30% of the voters support DAP while 27% supports PAS and 31% PKR? It would mean, logically PKR should have more seats in the Parliament than what they have now which is a total of one.

Actually the statistics represented in the chart is quite meaningless. There is no actual figures you can compare between the parties, not even between PKR and PAS. If you read it the “wrong “ way, you would think that UMNO only has 37% of the Malay votes and MIC only gets 12% of the Indian votes. Abdullah and Samy Vellu will be sleepless while MCA and Gerakan with -27% will cease to exist.

So there, lies, damn lies and meaningless statistics, the three things we could do without.

Vroom Vroom Vroom

Well ladies and gentlemen, please start your engines.

That was the message sent by the State last week when I received a letter telling each branch and division to set up election commitees.

It seems the election is looming and the "jentera" is to be started. There is even a meeting of ADUNs in Kuantan this week. Some kind of pow wow for team building and sort out matters.

The question is why now? Many are predicting November elections because of the school holidays. Some is saying September because the stockmarkets are falling and the feel good factor has to be preserved for the election. Some disagree and say it will be next year to benefit from the RMK9.

In any case, one thing is certain, the game of musical chairs has begun in earnest. Noticed people you have not seen in a long time during party activities recently. Send me their names.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gerakan to publish booklet to protect Federal Constitution, Rukun Negara

Jonathan Chen

PENANG (Aug 6, 2007): Gerakan will soon publish a booklet on the essentials and fundamentals of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, following the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah's call to use the constitution as the basis of national unity.
Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the booklet will reflect the spirit of the constitution, containing its essentials together with some brief explanations, to give the layman basic exposure to the supreme law of the land.
He said the booklet will be published in various languages and be first distributed among party leaders and members before going public.
Koh, however, could not give a time-frame when the booklet will be published.
"The public will be given some exposure to the basic provisions of the constitution," he told reporters after officiating at the World Engineering Congress here today.
"It is important to extract the essentials of the constitution with some explanations on the document so that the layman have a clear understanding that we are a system of government based on parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with freedom of religion and with Islam as the religion of the federation and state."
Koh was commenting on a speech made by Raja Nazrin at the inaugural Student Leaders' Summit 2007 held recently, where the latter had urged all Malaysians to protect the integrity of the constitution, as the supreme law of the land.
"Raja Nazrin's emphasis on the need to get back to the basics to better understand the true sprit of the constitution in fostering national unity is indeed a sound piece of advice to all Malaysians," he said.
The constitution, as described by Raja Nazrin, was a cleverly-crafted document which clearly provided for adequate checks and balances against excesses through the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, with each protected from encroachment by the other.
"Besides being a guide for all Malaysians to understand the concept and spirit of the constitution, I hope the booklet provides a foundation whereby party leaders and members can be united, and relations between those from other parties improved," Koh said.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Islamic or Not

Welcome to Move IT, the unofficial blog for a group of Gerakan members from Johor. In this blog we will publish articles written by Gerakan and non-Gerakan members on matters of public concern. Please be welcome to comment or email an article which you think is of importance. It will be moderated and bear with us if there are delays. Thank you and Enjoy.

The following is the letter from Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia (PGSM) on the matter of Islamic state published in the Berita Harian dated 1 August 2007

Peguam Syarie menulis: Sejarah bukti Malaysia bukan negara sekular

Oleh Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar dan Nurhidayah Muhd Hashim

PERSOALAN Perlembagaan Persekutuan bersifat sekular atau tidak, kembali diperkatakan baru-baru ini rentetan pengumuman Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yang menegaskan Malaysia sebuah negara Islam. Jika diimbau kembali, isu itu sudah diperkatakan bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ketika menerajui pimpinan negara. Begitu juga Perdana Menteri sekarang, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi turut memperkenalkan manhaj Islam Hadhari di Malaysia dan mendapat sokongan ramai, termasuk masyarakat bukan Islam.

Namun, kepemimpinan MCA mempertikaikan kesahihan negara Islam ini dengan mengutarakan laporan Suruhanjaya Reid dan keputusan Mahkamah Agong mengatakan Perlembagaan Persekutuan adalah bersifat sekular. Kenyataan itu dibidas Ketua Pemuda Umno, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein dan timbalannya, Khairy Jamaluddin.
Polemik ini perlu diselesaikan secara ilmiah, profesional dan berhemah berdasarkan fakta sejarah dan hakikat yang berlaku di negara kita.Mengikut sejarah, laporan Suruhanjaya Reid ada menyatakan kemasukan fasal Islam adalah agama bagi Persekutuan tidak menjejaskan sifat sekular Perlembagaan. Adakah kita terikat semata-mata kepada hasrat penggubal Perlembagaan itu yang rata-ratanya bukan rakyat Malaysia.

Perdana Menteri pertama, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj juga berpendirian sedemikian. Malah, penghakiman Tun Salleh Abas dalam kes Che Omar Che Soh menafsirkan Islam dalam Perkara 3 itu terhad kepada aspek ritual dan rasmi saja.Namun, jika diperhalusi, Perlembagaan Persekutuan sebenarnya memperuntukkan banyak fasal mengenai agama Islam. Umpamanya Perkara 3 menegaskan tanpa keraguan bahawa Islam adalah agama Persekutuan. Negara sekular seperti Perancis, Turki dan India menyatakan dengan jelas dalam perlembagaan mereka bahawa negara itu adalah negara sekular tanpa merujuk kepada sebarang agama. Ia itu tidak berlaku di dalam Perlembagaan dengan wujudnya Perkara 3 tadi.Jika Perlembagaan adalah sekular tentu Perkara 3 itu ditiadakan, malah ada banyak fasal lain yang memberi keistimewaan dan kedudukan tinggi agama Islam. Ia mustahil berlaku dalam sebuah negara sekular.Sebuah negara sekular tidak boleh mengeluarkan dana awam bagi perkembangan sesuatu agama kerana ia bertentangan dengan prinsip sekularisme. Namun, di Malaysia, Kerajaan Persekutuan dan kerajaan negeri memperuntukkan ratusan juta ringgit bagi pengembangan dan kemajuan agama Islam, sama ada untuk pembinaan masjid, peruntukan jabatan berkaitan agama Islam dan banyak lagi.

Tindakan kerajaan selaras dengan peruntukan Perlembagaan yang membenarkan dana awam digunakan bagi pembangunan agama Islam seperti diperuntukkan Perlembagaan dan sekali gus menjadi bukti Islam mendapat tempat istimewa dalam Perlembagaan. Perkara 11(4) Perlembagaan pula memberi kuasa kepada Dewan Undangan Negeri dan Parlimen bagi Wilayah-wilayah Persekutuan membuat undang-undang mengawal dan menyekat penyebaran agama bukan Islam di kalangan umat Islam. Adalah mustahil dalam sebuah negara bersifat sekular keistimewaan itu diberikan kepada sesebuah agama. Hal ini dengan sendiri menafikan hujah Perlembagaan adalah perlembagaan sekular.Malah, dengan pindaan Perlembagaan pada 1988 menyatakan bahawa Mahkamah Sivil tidak mempunyai bidang kuasa mengganggu keputusan Mahkamah Syariah, sekali gus menaikkan kedudukan agama Islam dan Mahkamah Syariah walaupun ada kalangan masyarakat tidak berpuas hati dengan kedudukan ini. Sekali lagi keistimewaan diberikan kepada agama Islam.Malah, dalam banyak keadaan lain, agama Islam dirujuk dan diiktiraf. Ia termasuk dalam sumpah jawatan Yang di-Pertuan Agong dan Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong juga menggunakan format dengan menyebut nama Allah seperti lafaz wallahi wabillahi watallahi. Ia adalah sumpah syarie mengikut lunas undang-undang syariah. Dengan menggunakan nama Allah, kedua-dua baginda berazam akan mempertahankan agama Islam di negara ini.Contoh itu adalah sebahagian contoh membidas hujahan pihak yang mengatakan Malaysia sebuah negara sekular secara total. Pelbagai perkara berlaku selepas Perlembagaan dipinda selepas kemerdekaan negara menjurus kepada peninggalan sifat sekular negara.

Adalah jelas Perlembagaan dan negara Malaysia bukan negara sekular dalam erti kata sekular itu sendiri. Negara sekular memisahkan agama daripada perundangan dan pentadbiran. Negara sekular meminggirkan agama dalam mengejar kemajuan. Negara sekular tidak memberi keistimewaan langsung kepada sebarang agama dalam menjalankan aktiviti agama mereka. Perkara itu tidak berlaku di Malaysia.Persoalan kedua, apakah Malaysia sebuah negara Islam dalam erti kata sebenarnya? Perbincangan disambung minggu depan.Penulis ialah Presiden dan Exco Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia (PGSM). Sebarang komentar boleh dihantar ke

And our reply to Berita Harian dated 2 August.

Merujuk kepada rencana daripada PBSM yang disiarkan di suratkhabar anda pada 1 Ogos 2007. Di dalam rencana itu, penulis beranggapan rakyat bukan Islam menyokong wujudnya negara Islam di Malaysia kerana memberi kemenangan besar kepada kerajaan Barisan Nasional di bawah pimpinan Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi yang memperkenalkan Islam Hadhari.

Kami merasa penulis adalah salah dalam anggapan beliau didalam perkara ini. Rakyat bukan Islam mengembalikan kerajaan Barisan Nasional ke kepimpinan negara bukanlah disebabkan oleh Islam Hadhari semata-mata. Rakyat bukan Islam di Malaysia menyokong Barisan Nasional kerana Barisan Nasional mewakili kesemua lapisan rakyat samada tua atau muda, kaya atau miskin, Islam atau bukan Islam, Melayu, Cina atau India dan seterusnya. Rakyat bukan Islam dan dan juga yang beragama Islam dengan hampir sebulat suara menyokong Barisan Nasional kerana Barisan Nasional menjanjikan kerajaan yang jujur, amanah dan saksama.

Nilai-nilai murni yang diterapkan oleh Islam Hadhari adalah nilai-nilai semesta yang tidak bercanggah dengan mana-mana agama bukan Islam. Apabila Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi menerajui perang dengan korupsi didalam kerajaan, tidak ada orang yang membantah kerana korupsi adalah menjijikkan samada kepada yang beragama Islam atau tidak.
Penerapan nilai-nilai Islam di dalam jentera kerajaan adalah semulajadi kerana majoriti besar kakitangan kerajaan adalah beragama Islam. Ini tidak boleh disamakan dengan kerajaan Islam seperti Arab Saudi yang berperlembagaankan Al-Quran atau Iran yang diperintah oleh Majlis Ulama. Malaysia masih mempunyai sistem politik kerajaan monarki berpelembagaan dimana undang-undang Negara digubal oleh wakil-wakil yang terpilih samada Islam atau bukan Islam. Mahkamah Syariah di Malaysia adalah untuk orang Islam sahaja.

Islam adalah agama resmi negara Malaysia. Ini adalah sebab mengapa wang kerajaan digunakan untuk membangunkan masjid, membina sekolah-sekolah agama dan sebagainya. Tetapi ini tidak bermakna agama-agama lain di abaikan. Sebagai negara berbilang kaum, bangsa dan agama, tanah tanah kerajaan telah diagihkan untuk membina tokong-tokong, kuil-kuil dan juga rumah-rumah berhala yang lain. Wakil-wakil rakyat juga memberi peruntukkan untuk membina rumah-rumah tersebut. Sah bahawa kerajaan prihatin kepada keperluan rohani rakyat Malaysia samada beragama Islam atau tidak dan ini adalah sepatutnya kerana wakil-wakil yang terpilih terdiri daripada rakyat Malaysia yang berbilang kaum, bangsa dan agama.

Sehingga wujudnya situasi dimana kesemua rakyat Malaysia berjantinakan lelaki dibenarkan untuk kahwin empat, seperti yang dibenarkan dibawah sebuah kerajaan Islam, maka adalah selamat untuk menyimpulkan bahawa Malaysia adalah sebuah negara demokrasi berpelembagaan yang berbilang kaum, bangsa dan agama.