KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is not a secular state as historically, the country was established based on an Islamic Malay Sultanate government, with the Sultans being the head of Islam in their respective states.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said Article 3 of the Federal Constitution clearly states that Islam is the religion of the Federation; however, others are free to profess their religion of choice.
"This position was also further expounded through other provisions in the Federal Constitution that guarantees this," said Jamil Khir in a written reply to Oscar Ling (DAP-Sibu) who asked to state if hudud contradicted the Federal Constitution.
He also asked to state if Malaysia was a secular or Islamic state.
Jamil Khir stated that Clause 1(A) of Article 121 reads that civil courts have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.
He also cited Clause 4 of Article 11, which says: "State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam."
He also cited Clause 2 of Article 12 which reads: "Every religious group has the right to establish and maintain institutions for the education of children in its own religion, and there shall be no discrimination on the ground only of religion in any law relating to such institutions or in the administration of any such law; but it shall be lawful for the Federation or a state to establish or maintain or assist in establishing or maintaining Islamic institutions or provide or assist in providing instruction in the religion of Islam and incur such expenditure as may be necessary for the purpose."
"Therefore, our situation differs from secular countries that do not fix a particular religion as the state religion but allow their citizens to profess their respective religions.
"Their religion is separated from their personal practice," said Jamil Khir.
Meanwhile at the Parliament lobby, Ling urged MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and other component parties to make a clearer stand about Jamil Khir's statement on Malaysia being non-secular.
Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) said Jamil Khir was wrong as Malaysia was a secular state, as established by a Federal Court decision that has yet to be overturned.
"It is absurd. Jamil Khir should retract his answer as it goes against the Malaysia agreement. It is unacceptable," he said.