After posting my article, “Perjanjian DAP, PKR, PAN, PPBM Untuk Meminda Perkara 3(1)“, I received two comments from two law experts regarding another important part of the agreement that I had overseen.
Both, Uncle Dato’ Naser Disa, the CEO of IKSIM and Dr. Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia, highlighted that in the agreement, it was written, “… dan agama-agama lain … ” whereas in the original text of the Federal Constitution, the Article 3(1) says ” … tetapi agama-agama lain …”; meaning in their agreement, the opposition parties had not only add the word “bebas” but also changed the word “tetapi” (but) to the word “dan” (and).
These are not small matters, important agreements are written by lawyers and lawyers are very specific in choosing each word for such agreements, to make sure that it covers specifically the important matters that were asked by their clients.
And we as the citizens must know and protect our rights as provided by our Federal Constitution and do not let others fool us with sweet promises of protecting our rights but at the same time cheat us behind our back.
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.
As in the case of adding the word, “bebas“ to the Article 3(1), replacing the word “tetapi” with the word “dan” to the same Article seems to reaffirm their intention to rewrite the Article 3(1) and to undermine Islam.
The word “tetapi” in the Article 3(1) signifies the supreme position of Islam as the religion of the Federation as compared to other religions in Malaysia.
So, by replacing the word “tetapi” with the word “dan” in the context of the Article 3(1), the opposition leaders who signed the agreement has distort the interpretation of the Article 3(1) by positioning other religions at the same level as Islam, which is a distortion of the truth; not only to the Article 3(1) but also to our Federal Constitution.
In the High Court decision of the case, Meor Atiqulrahman bin Ishak & Ors v Fatimah Sihi & Ors 1 MLJ 393, the then Justice Mohd Noor Abdullah has clearly clarified this matter:
Pada pendapat saya “Islam ialah ugama bagi Persekutuan tetapi ugama-ugama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai” bermakna Islam adalah ugama utama di antara ugama-ugama lain yang dianuti di negara ini seperti Kristian, Buddha, Hindu dan selainnya. Islam bukan setaraf dengan ugama lain, bukan duduk berganding bahu atau berdiri sama tegak. Ia duduk di atas, ia berjalan dahulu, terletak di tempat medan dan suaranya lantang kedengaran. Islam ibarat pokok jati – tinggi, teguh dan terampil. Jika bukan sedemikian Islam bukanlah ugama bagi Persekutuan tetapi adalah salah satu di antara beberapa ugama yang dianuti di negara ini dan setiap orang sama-sama bebas mengamalkan manamana ugama yang dianutinya, tiada lebih satu dari yang lain. Peruntukan ‘Islam ialah ugama bagi Persekutuan’ hendaklah ditakrif dan ditinjau tujuannya dengan membaca bersama peruntukan lain dalam Perlembagaan khususnya Perkara 89, 152, 153 dan 14.
Hence, the intention of the phrase, “but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation” in the Article 3(1) is to specify that even though Islam is the religion of the Federation, people of other religions are allowed to practise their religions but their actions must be in peace and harmony with the people of other religions, especially Islam which is the religion of the Federation; and not to give them the freedom to do anything they wish.
In other words, even though Islam is the religion of the Federation, Malaysia does not discriminate people of other religions, they are allowed to the practise their religions as long as they obey the laws and not to do things that have “the potential to disrupt the even tempo of the life of the Malaysian community”.
In the Court of Appeal’s judgement of the case, Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Menteri Dalam Negeri and Kerajaan Malaysia, the then Federal Court Judge, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali states:
 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.
In fact, by doing what some people may think as small changes, the oppositions are not only giving a totally different meaning to the Article 3(1) but they are also interfering with other important Articles in the Federal Constitution such as Article 10(2), 11(4), 153 and others; as the Articles of the Federal Consitution cannot stand alone or cannot be read singularly, but must be read as a whole because each Article are ‘connected’ with other Articles.
In the judgement of the Federal Court case, Loh Kooi Choon v The Government of Malaysia  2 MLJ 187, the then Federal Court Judge, DYMM Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah stated:
Constitution as the supreme law, unchangeable by ordinary means, is distinct from ordinary law and as such cannot be inconsistent with itself.
So when they replace the word “tetapi” with the word “dan”, they are positioning other religions at par with Islam which is against the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and by adding the word “bebas” to the same Article, they are giving the freedom to people of other religions to do whatever they want in the name of practising their religions even though it can cause disorder in the community.
As stated by the then Federal Court Judge, Tan Sri Apandi Ali in the judgement of the case, Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v Menteri Dalam Negeri and Kerajaan Malaysia, the “Freedom of other Religions” which is Article 11 is subjected to Islam since Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution is “within the confines of Part I of the Constitution” while Article 11 is under the Part 2 of the Constitution.
 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.
Just one word can make a very big different, and in this case, not only it distorts the interpretation of Article 3(1) and interfere with other Articles of the Federal Constitution but discriminate and take away the rights of the Muslims as provided by the Federal Constitution.
Since in the “Perjanjian Kerjasama Pakatan Harapan – PPBM”, the leaders of DAP, PKR, PAN and PPBM on behalf of their parties agree to uphold the Federal Constitution, “Islam sebagai agama bagi Persekutuan dan agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan bebas, aman dan damai di negara ini sejajar dengan Perkara 3”, the people must understand that DAP, PKR, PAN and PPBM only vow to uphold their edited version of the Article 3(1) and not the one that is written in our Federal Constitution.
This action by them is consistent with their stance that Malaysia is a secular country whereas Malaysia is not and has never been a secular country.