Kota Kinabalu: The Federal Government will not only lose the goodwill and support of Sabah and Sarawak but people in both these states may even agitate to leave the federation if the Government submits to PAS demands to implement Hudud (Syariah law) just to ensure that Umno remains in power.

Issuing the warning at the “Malaysia in the Future” forum, here, Tuesday, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor said not would the Bornean states quit, the entire country would be thrown into chaos.

“If the Federal Government wants to defend the political power of the people in Umno by submitting to the demands of PAS inch by inch, I’m afraid this can happen. Where will Sabah stand? They don’t like this.

“It’s bye bye Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. He reminded Federal that when discussing the merger that led to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, people in both states, irrespective of race and religion, strongly disagreed that Islam should be the religion of the new federation.

“It was the main issue”.

“This is clearly stated in the Cobbold Commission Report,” he said adding that the situation was different in peninsula then and even to this day.

He said PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s move in tabling a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act was a tactic to push for hudud and is dangerous because it caused non-Muslims to feel uneasy.

“I had expressed concern over its impact on Sabah and Sarawak which has a big non-Muslim Bumiputera population.

“If people’s anxiety over the issue of religion gets heated up, Malaysia may be thrown into chaos.

For Sabah and Sarawak, they may think twice whether to continue to be in Malaysia or not,” he said.

He envisions that Malaysia in the next 50 years will be a country that has broken down its many barriers and restrictions, particularly in regard to religion.

Personally, Rahim said he prefers the Pancasila model used by Indonesia where no one religion is declared as the official religion for the country.

He said it should not be an issue for Malaysia as well as many Muslim majority countries do not make Islam their official religion and cited Egypt and Indonesia as an examples.

“Personally, when it comes to God, it’s an individual matter. I don’t deal with any middlemen,” he declared.

To a question on whether there is “seemingly” a breakdown in racial and religious relationship in Peninsula Malaysia, Rahim said although it is happening, it is not very serious.

He said the Malays and Islam in the peninsula are already synonymous and it is impossible to have a person from other faith in their immediate family.

On the contrary, he said, this has never been the case among Sabahans.

More and more, he said, there was a tendency among the Malays to be more Arabic than the Arabs.

He recalled an incident with a relative who claimed that the Arabic alphabets belonged to Muslims, as opposed to Roman alphabets.

“Of course she has limited education. But it seems that not many people realise, or at best they choose to ignore, that the Middle East is home to not just Muslims, but other people from other religions too,” he said.

He noted a frightening trend among the ruling elites: they are bending over backwards and submitting to the will of those who use religion to garner support from increasingly religious masses.

This inclination, he said, was, so far, restricted to certain areas in Peninsular Malaysia but he believed it could take a turn for the worse if not curbed by the authorities.

Religious conflicts, he said, would become too hot an issue if the Federal Government continued to succumb to pressure and become too Islamic.

After 54 years, he said Malaysia was still searching for its own identity as the people remained divided, each identifying themselves according to their race and tribes.

It was worse, he added, when the people in Sabah and Sarawak did not feel they had anything in common with their fellow citizens in West Malaysia.

“We must admit that apart from having the same colonial master, West Malaysians and East Malaysians are totally different, culturally and historically. We are still far away from creating a Malaysian race.

“Throwing religion into the equation will only further complicate this quest,” he concluded.