The opinion of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in the PAS mouthpiece Harakah last Friday that the role of non-Muslims in the cabinet ought to be limited has been rightly condemned by many and can be seen as an attempt to rewrite the Federal Constitution which has long recognised members of the cabinet to be of equal status.
At the very least, there is nothing expressly stated in the said Constitution to suggest, as Hadi suggests, that the cabinet should be exclusively Malay or that non-Muslim cabinet members play a limited role.
There can be no doubt that Hadi is legally wrong in his said opinion as since the time of independence, Malaysia has enjoyed a multicultural government which includes an actively multicultural cabinet.
The argument is further strengthened by the fact that this country has been declared secular in a decision of the Supreme Court (which was presided by none other than former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, a PAS member), the highest court in the land, which declaration still holds strong to this very day. Such secularism must, by its very nature, exclude any hint of an exclusively Malay cabinet.
Hadi’s said opinion is undoubtedly far-reaching and was never the intention of this country’s forefathers. As such, it is important for all parties, regardless of political affiliation, to come out strongly against it. Anything less can threaten the very fabric on which this country is built.
It is for this reason that it is shocking to note that the Prime Minister has not openly condemned Hadi’s opinion neither have other Barisan Nasional component parties such as the MCA, MIC and Gerakan. They must state their stand now as silence on the matter will be taken as an acceptance of same which can be disastrous for the country in the long term.
Dated 26th December, 2017.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY