This week, our Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Rajak stunned the nation by publicly making a statement, saying that Malaysia is an islamic state in actual fact.
The Chinese-based MCA and DAP expectedly flung back with protests, basing their arguement on our constitutional provisions. They made it vehemently clear that Malaysia is a secular state, constitutionally speaking.
For a start, Malaysia is certainly not of a theocratic (and/or Orthodox Islamic) system of government. This point needs no further elaboration.
By constitution, our country is a secular state completely from a legal point of view.
However, in modern context, an islamic state ( as is argued by many ) is to strike a middle path between a completely secular and a theocratic systems of government. In other words, it is a compromise in a loose sense.
Here is the point - politically, Malaysia is caught in this context. Raising islamic state issue has been a political gimmick only to serve political needs with no viable plan to amend the Malaysian constitution to that effect.
Our ex-PM Tun Dr. Mahathir brought up the islamic state issue on Sept. 29, 2001 to fence off the overwhelming challenge posed by PAS (Pan Malaysian Islamic Party).
And now Datuk Seri Najib also openly made the same statement, also with a political motive - to sidetrack. Lately Najib has been sitting on a burning seat. With the drumbeat of the next parliamentary elections sounding loud and clear, Datuk Seri has to take a political tactic to firm his foothold.
Simply put, Najib was only striking to capitalise on the islamic state issue.
Both MCA and DAP jumped up high from their seats on this sticky issue - why did they react strong? They have to, otherwise the Chinese community would slap back on their faces during elections.
Malaysia can't afford, as yet, to constitutionally change its status from a secular state to that of an islamic state. With our nation still depending heavily on foreign funds for investments, a declaration to that effect would instantly scare off investors and trigger an outflow of foreign funds.
I foresee Malaysia to continue remaining politically an islamic state (to suit political needs), but constitutionally secular in status.