Kit Siang says Jamil Khir's statement cannot be dismissed as a personal view.
GEORGE TOWN: DAP today accused MCA and Gerakan of sidestepping the issue of whether Malaysia is a secular or Islamic state and challenged the two parties to demand that the de facto Religious Affairs Minister retract his recent controversial statement.
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said Jamil Khir Baharom’s assertion that Malaysia “is not a secular state” did not qualify as a personal view since it was uttered by a cabinet minister in Parliament, contrary to what MCA and Gerakan leaders appeared to believe.
He added that the two Chinese-based parties must demand a retraction and a clear Cabinet and Barisan Nasional supreme council pronouncement that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as its official religion.
“There is no such thing as a personal view when a minister speaks in Parliament, whether in speeches or in replies to parliamentary questions,” he said at a gathering to celebrate DAP’s victory in the recent Bukit Gelugor by-election.
“Whatever the minister speaks in Parliament is in an official capacity on behalf of the BN Cabinet, which binds all ministers under the doctrine of collective ministerial responsibility.”
Lim said he was surprised that MCA president Liow Tiong Lai, being a former minister, was not aware of “this fundamental ministerial principle”, as evident in his dismissal of Jamil Khir’s statement as “merely his personal view”.
He argued that Malaysia’s position as a secular state was clearly defined in the Federal Constitution, “drafted to safeguard the rights of not only one race and religion, but of all”.
He said the position taken by Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong was “not very different” from that of his MCA counterpart.
Lim approved of Gerakan’s stand that Malaysia “is a fully functional secular-based constitutional monarchy with Islam as the religion of the federation”, but accused the party of ignoring “the elephant in the room”.
“The Gerakan suggestion of a special bipartisan committee to resolve the varying views on the secular or Islamic state issue is another classic case of political evasion,” he said, adding that it “puts the cart before the horse”.