The letter was sent by the Office of Datuk Badariah Arshad, Director of Operations, Perdana Leadership Foundation (Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana) to my father via e-mail, to be forwarded to me.
I want to thank Tun M for writing to me, I am very honoured to receive a letter from a former Prime Minister and to know that someone as important as him reading my blog article.
Below is Tun M’s letter that was addressed to me.
In my article, I commented that the opposition parties’ agreement, Perjanjian Kerjasama Pakatan Harapan – PPBM that was signed by DAP, PKR, PAN and PPBM, had misquoted the Article 3(1) by adding the word ‘bebas‘. Please click here for my article.
In explaining about the added word, Tun M wrote:
It is true that the word “bebas” is not in the sentence referring to Islam as the official religion of the Federation. But the word “bebas” is not meant for Islam the official religions but for “other religions” (agama-agama lain). We know that the followers of other religions can freely change their religions. This is necessary as many have converted to Islam and to Christianity.
From what I understand, Tun M explains that the word, “bebas” in the agreement refers to the freedom to convert to other religion where Tun M further wrote that, “But the word “bebas” was not meant for Islam, but for the followers of “other religions” (agama-agama lain). We know that the followers of other religions can freely change their religions. This is necessary as many have converted to Islam and to Christianity”.
I am sad to say that not only Tun M’s explanation does not answer my question, but it also makes the matter more confusing because the fact that the Article 3(1) is the Article that explains about Islam as the religion of the Federation and it’s position over other religions in Malaysia and not about the rights to convert to other religions.
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.
Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
I do not mean to be rude but it seems like Tun M is confused about what is written in the Article 3(1) and therefore Tun M’s explanation about the reason for adding the word “bebas” is totally out of context, because adding the word “bebas” to the Article 3(1) means that the followers of other religions are given the freedom do anything they wish in the name of practising their religions even though if it disrupts the peace and harmony of the community.
Hence, I questioned the opposition parties’ intention of the adding the word “bebas” to the Article 3(1) because the added word “bebas” distorts the interpretation of the Article 3(1) and undermines the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation.
I have to stress that the Article 3(1) that places the religion of Islam at par with the other basic structures of the Constitution and that is grouped under Part 1 of the Constitution, must not be confused with the Article regarding the “freedom of religion” which is the Article 11 that is grouped under Part II of the Constitution.
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 wrote that:
 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.
And I also wrote that as the supreme law of the Federation, each word in the Articles of the Federal Constitution was chosen for a very specific reason, therefore adding just a word can change the interpretation of the Article and can disrupt other related Articles.
Another important matter that I have to highlight is, it is incorrect to say that Islam is the official religion of the Federation as written by Tun M in his letter because Islam is not merely the official religion, but it is the religion of the Federation as what was said by Tun M himself during his years as the Prime Minister, that Malaysia is a “Negara Islam” .
I made the video below to help people understand that Islam is actually the religion of the Federation because a lot of us are still confused about this important fact.
It seems like Tun M’s principals has changed, for, during Tun M’s reign, in order to maintain peace and harmony among the people in Malaysia, Tun did not give the freedom to the people; but now as a leader of an opposition party, Tun M went against his own principle and is fighting for total freedom.