KUALA LUMPUR: “Secular” is defined as not being connected with religion or spiritual matters, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said.
“Our Constitution clearly states that Islam is the religion of the federation and other faiths can be practised peacefully as well,” Pandikar Amin told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday when rejecting a motion to refer Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
“When I compare it to other countries such as India, the United States and Turkey, it is written as secular in their constitutions, it does not identify a particular religion and the people in these countries are free to profess the religion of their choice,” he said, adding that the meaning of “secular” as he understood it was based on its definition in the Oxford dictionary.
Based on this, he believed that the minister had no intention to mislead the Dewan Rakyat.
The motion had been moved to refer the minister to the Committee for supposedly misleading the House with his statement that Malaysia is not a secular state.
The motion was put forward by Oscar Ling (DAP-Sibu), who alleged that Jamil Khir had misled the House by saying that Malaysia was not a secular state in a written reply to him on Monday.
Pandikar Amin also explained that in the 1988 landmark case of Che Omar Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor, the then-presiding judge Tun Salleh Abbas had noted that under the Constitution, Islam is the religion of the federation although the country is governed by secular laws.
In his reply to Ling, Jamil Khir said Malaysia was not a secular state as historically, the country was established based on an Islamic Malay sultanate government.
Ling said that in the formation of Malaysia, it was understood that Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah did not come from an Islamic Malay sultanate background.
He added that based on the 20-point agreement drawn up by North Borneo in proposing terms for the formation of Malaysia, there was no objection to Islam being the national religion but there should be no state religion in North Borneo.