Perjanjian DAP, PKR, PAN, PPBM Untuk Meminda Perkara 3(1)?

Four Malaysian opposition political parties, DAP, PKR, PAN and PPBM had signed an agreement on the 13th of December 2016.

In the agreement which is named, Perjanjian Kerjasama Pakatan Harapan – PPBM, the four parties agreed on several main issues including to uphold the Federal Constitution.

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I read the agreement and since I am familiar with the Article 3 of the Federal Constitution, the below sentence below caught my eye:

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Screenshot taken from the agreement

The above sentence says, “To fight in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Constitution 1957/63 especially to uphold the Federal Constitution”, but then it went on saying, “… dan agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan bebas, aman dan damai di di negara ini sejajar dengan Perkara 3 …”

Well, let us take a look of what is stated in the Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution:

“Islam ialah agama bagi Persekutuan ; tetapi agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai di mana-mana Bahagian Persekutuan.”

Now, where did the word, “bebas” comes from and more importantly, why did they add the word “bebas” to the Article 3(1)?

Are the opposition parties trying to rewrite the Article 3(1) in order to undermine Islam as the religion of the Federation?

As the supreme law of the Federation, each word in the Articles of the Federal Constitution was chosen for a very specific reason.

The Article 3(1) states that, “… other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony” or “agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai“; there is no such word as ‘bebas‘ in the clause, and adding the word ‘bebas‘ gives the Article a totally different meaning.

Thus, it is a violation of the Article 3(1).

How could the opposition parties pledge, “To fight in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Constitution 1957/63 especially to uphold the Federal Constitution“, when they clearly changed and violated the Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution?

To understand this matter, we need to know the meaning of the words, “aman dan damai” or “peace and harmony” in the context of the Article 3(1).

The word, “aman dan harmoni” in the Article 3(1), has been interpreted by the then Federal Court Judge, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in the Court of Appeal’s judgement of the case, Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Menteri Dalam Negeri and Kerajaan Malaysia:

[31] It is my observation that the words “in peace and harmony” in Article 3(1) has a historical background and dimension, to the effect that those words are not without significance. The Article places the religion of Islam at par with the other basic structures of the Constitution, as it is the 3 rd in the order of precedence of the Articles that were within the confines of Part I of the Constitution. It is pertinent to note that the fundamental liberties Articles were grouped together subsequently under Part II of the Constitution.

[33] In short, Article 3(1) was a by-product of the social contract entered into by our founding fathers who collectively produced the Federal Constitution, which is recognized as the Supreme Law of the country. It is my judgment that the purpose and intention of the insertion of the words: “in peace and harmony” in Article 3(1) is to protect the sanctity of Islam as the religion of the country and also to insulate against any threat faced or any possible and probable threat to the religion of Islam. It is also my judgment that the most possible and probable threat to Islam, in the context of this country, is the propagation of other religion to the followers of Islam. That is the very reason as to why Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution came into place.

[42] It is my judgment that, based on the facts and circumstances of the case, the usage of the word “Allah” particularly in the Malay version of the Herald, is without doubt, do have the potential to disrupt the even tempo of the life of the Malaysian community. Such publication will surely have an adverse effect upon the sanctity as envisaged under Article 3(1) and the right for other religions to be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation. Any such disruption of the even tempo is contrary to the hope and desire of peaceful and harmonious co-existence of other religions other than Islam in this country.

Therefore, the phrase, “tetapi agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai” means that the practice of religions other than Islam, must be in peace and harmony with the people of other religions, especially Islam which is the religion of the Federation; thus by adding the word, “bebas“, the opposition had violated the Federal Constitution.

In the same judgement, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali also said:

[36] The alleged infringement of the fundamental liberties of the respondent can be negated by trite law that any freedom is not absolute. Freedom cannot be unfettered, otherwise like absolute power, it can lead to chaos and anarchy. Freedom of speech and expression under Article 10(1) are subjected to restrictions imposed by law under Article 10(2)(a). Freedom of religion, under Article 11(1), as explained above is subjected to Article 11(4) and is to be read with Article 3(1).

So, contrary to what is claimed by the opposition leaders, even the Article 11(1) does not give us total freedom of religion, for it is subjected to Article 11(4) and is to be read with Article 3(1).

Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution:

Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution:

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.

What is the intention of the opposition leaders in adding the word ‘bebas‘ in their reference to the Article 3(1), for the implication of the added word can undermine the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation and distort the interpretation of the Article?

3 thoughts on “Perjanjian DAP, PKR, PAN, PPBM Untuk Meminda Perkara 3(1)?

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