"Islam is the official religion and Malaysia is an Islamic state, an Islamic state that respects the rights of the non-Muslims and we protect them," he said when asked to comment on concerns that Malaysia was moving from a secular government to an Islamic State and whether is Malaysia is one.
"I want to correct you (reporter), that we have never never been a secular state. Secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern the country.
"But we have never abdicated from those principles. Malaysia have been always been driven by, and adhere to the fundamentals of Islam ... so your (reporter) premise is wrong," he said.
After spoken to several people, most of the pundits opined that Najib needs to find something to distract attention away from the controversy he was caught in at the Altantuya Shaaribu murder trial.
A prominent BN politician told me that Najib is trying to pick up a fight to enhance his profile especially when the fight is on Malaysia's Islamic status.
Najib is obviously playing with fire here knowing that his statement is tantamount to a political challenge against the spirit of the federal constitution which is the most sacred law of the land.
The prominent leader added that we should not attack Najib over the statement because this is what he wanted to create, a fight which will help to uplift his profile knowing that Islamists will leap to his defence.
Nonetheless, several people have responded:
Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan:
"Malaysia is a secular state, not an Islamic state. The law is clear about this whereby the supreme court in a 1998 case decided by Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas stated clearly: we are a secular state and the civil court administers secular law.
"Certainly, Islam receives special treatment in the Federal Constitution but that does not mean Malaysia is an Islamic state.
"It does not follow from the provision in Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution that we are an Islamic state in the legal term.
"Going back to the time of our founding fathers and the Reid Commission report, it is clear we were not meant to be an Islamic state. Taking this position today is contrary to our consititutional history.
"We believe there is a misunderstanding that can be resolved by looking closely at the constitution."
International Islamic University Malaysia lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari:
"Malaysia is not a secular state because Islam has been put as the "religion of the Federation" by Article 3(1).
"But, it is acceptable to say Malaysia is "an Islamic nation with its own interpretation." Given the sensitivities and ignorance of both Muslims and non-Muslims, such is understandable.
"Because, even for a country like United Kingdom, with good policies, orderly system and humane laws, it can be Islamic in that sense."
Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi:
"Malaysia is never secular but at the same time, it is not an Islamic state. We are neither here nor there.
"We walk the middle path. But this is not something we should be ashamed of. Instead, it is a pride.
"Malaysia was always promoting Islam. In line with this, it is clear that Malaysia was never neutral on the issue of religion.
"But we have never emphasised on ideological purity. We are not a theocratic state.
The constitution is the supreme law of the nation. So, it does not permit a conclusion that we are a full-fledged Islamic state.
"To me, there is no need to adopt a black or white agreement. There are shades of grey. We are a hybrid state. Our system are all mixed.
"We are a Muslim nation whereby Muslims are in control, but not in the legal way. "And actually, there is no prototype or ideal model of an Islamic state in the world. Not even Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, as they do have customs which have nothing to do with Islam."
MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai:
The Federal Constitution's tenet has always been that Malaysia is a secular state, and not an Islamic state.
Although the official religion is Islam, the people can practise other religions.
Najib's statement that Malaysia is an Islamic should not be taken literally but in a general sense that it is an Islamic country, where the majority of the population is Muslim.
Malaysia is an Islamic country, which has a Muslim majority population and which is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference; it is not an Islamic state which practises theocracy.
Opposition Leader and DAP member of Parliament for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang
Najib's statement is a unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the fundamental principles of nation-building agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation.
It is agreed that while Islam is the official religion of the federation, Malaya and later Malaysia is not an Islamic state, whether of the PAS or Umno variety.
Tunku said at his 80th birthday celebration organised by the Barisan Nasional in1983: "The Constitution must be respected and adhered to. There have been attempts by some people who tried to introduce religious laws and morality laws. This cannot be allowed.
"The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular state with Islam as the official religion."
Dr Farish Noor:
"The comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister would suggest a totalising discourse that fails to take into account the pluralism that is at the heart of the Malaysian nation and nation-building project. When he states that ‘we have always been driven by our adherence to the fundamental principles of Islam’, is he referring to the entire Malaysian population that includes not only Muslims but also Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and peoples of other faiths? Or by the term ‘we’ is he referring to the oligarchy of Malay-Muslim elites who man the helm of UMNO and the ruling National Front alliance that governs the country?"
As a Deputy Prime Minister, Najib is a leader of all races. He must ensure that his statement does not mislead the public. The spirit of the federal constitution today remained secular although Islam is accepted and recognised as the federal religion. The recognition is purely symbolic and to respect the majority people of this country who are muslims.
Malaysians must celebrate the country's strength in diversity and not otherwise. This exclusive statement seeks to disunite than to unite, which is a pity because we are celebrating the 50th year of our national independence.
What is obvious is it is Najib the Politician at work and he is hoping that his statement will shore up his popularity. This is a cheap gimmick and a dangerous one too.
Is Najib fit to become a leader of a multiracial and multireligious country?