(8 October 2001)

KOTA KINABALU (8 October 2001): Former' Chief Ministcr Datuk Yong Teck Lee Sunday said he has accepted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad's explanation that Malaysia today is an Islamic country.

Met at the 3rd BIMP-EAGA Exhibition and Road Show 2001 at Palm Square here, Sunday, he said that most peopIe had accepted the fact that Malaysia is an Islamic country.

"Malaysia has always been an Islamic country, considering that Islam is the official religion although its constitutions caters for Malaysians of all races and religious beliefs. "No changes have been made to the constitution or the way how the country was run and managed over the last 40 over years," he said, adding that Malaysia is also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

Yong pointed out that the term "negara Islam" in Bahasa Melayu is translated literary as "Islamic country" in English, as with similar terms in English, Indian and other languages spoken in the country.

He nevertheless described an "Islamic state" theocratic state within the Malaysian context, where the government is administrated by a "majlis ulama" (clerical council) and others, that defers from today's Malaysian constitution.

Yong, who is also Gaya MP, Likas Assemblyman and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President, pointed out that the Prime Minister during a recent Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur had explained that Malaysia is not an Islamic state as perceived in some Islamic countries.

Asked to comment on a recent remark by PAS president Datuk Fadzil Noor that Malaysia was not "negara Islam" Yong said: "The Prime Minister has asked PAS to explain on their (PAS) definition about an Islamic state , so I think we have to wait for that.

"We are equally interested to know from PAS what they meant by Islamic state, whether it differs from the Umno context."

On the challenge by Fadzil Noor that the Prime Minister PM should declare Malaysia as "negara Islam" in Parliament, Yong recalled that the Prime Minister had already stated that "PAS will oppose whatever we say in Parliament just because their ideology differs from Umno or the Barisan Nasional".

He believed that PAS would raise the issue in the next Parliament sitting demanding the country's status as an Islamic country or Islamic state.


Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas






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