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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Historical Background of Article 3

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The latest attraction in the political zoo called Malaysia: the supposed conspiracy by the Christians to make Christianity as the "official" religion, thus putting at risk the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation, as stated in Article 3.

What, though, does "religion of the Federation" actually mean? The answers are varied, depending on where you're coming from. While nowhere does it say "official" religion, some have opined that this is indeed implied.

Perhaps to fully understand the intent of Article 3, it would be useful to take a walk down history lane, which is what this post by Art Harun does. Quite Artfully (pun intended) and articulately written, in addition.

Unfortunately, Malaysia doesn't have a Constitutional Court where ambiguities concerning the Federal Constitution - and there are many - can be sorted out. But Art's post at least assists us to appreciate the historical background and how Article 3 became part of our nation's supreme book of law.

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Much have been said lately about Islam being under siege and an alleged plot to turn Malaysia into a "Christian state."

This of course led to the inevitable lodgment of multiple police reports in various states by the usual suspects and various other parties. Soon I suppose we will have a demonstration by some people with suitable props, like a severed cow head or most likely a burning large crucifix, this time around.

Welcome to Malaysia ladies and gentlemen. It is nice and hot, and not to mention hazy nowadays. And when it is hazy, we, Malaysians go a bit bonkers.

There are some on tweeters who actually defended Utusan Malaysia and its ilk. There are also many who condemn them, including Malays and Muslims. I have nothing to say to them.

All I want to add is this. If we think ourselves as leaders, we'd better lead. Not follow. As leaders we have to come down hard on wrong-doings - on both side of the fence - and we also have to show the way. It is not enough going around town meeting flag-waving school children amidst huge posters and banners bearing nice catchy slogans while closing our eyes to bigotry; irresponsible acts of goons and political thugs as well as some disgruntled Mafiosi chiefs spewing hate message.

As leaders, we should at all time lead. And lead not only by words and catchy tuneful and sexy slogans, but also by deeds. Otherwise, we would have failed as leaders. Otherwise, we would have breached our oath of office. Otherwise, we would have breached our fiduciary duties. Otherwise, we would have breached the trust given to us by the people.

Meanwhile, a learned friend of mine, Syahredzan Johan, today issued a statement that Malaysia has no official religion. That is his reading of the Federal Constitution. He might be correct. He might be wrong. One thing is clear though, not many of us Malaysians read the Federal Constitution. And I am sure some people in Utusan Malaysia have never ever even seen a copy.

In my opinion, the true meaning of Article 3 of the Federal Constitution could only be known if, apart from reading the provision, we also study the historical background of the said article. The purpose of this post is to do just that.