Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Know Your History to Avoid Blabbling Like an Idiot

That's Tunku, riding in a British colonial (now classic) car in Melaka in preparation for Malaya's independence back in 1957. If not for the all-round support from the people of Malaya, including the Chinese, Indians and other races, Malaysia would not exist today.

We wouldn't be producing our own cars today if the races in Malaya didn't come together to secure independence from the British Empire. And our forefathers decided that the Constitution of Malaya would be the foundation for our independent existence.

Yet, today, there are people who malign the Federal Constitution without understanding the historical context in which the constitution was founded, stoking the fires of racial intolerance, hatred and disunity. Among others, they question the special rights and privileges of the Malays, conveniently forgetting that, if not for those rights and privileges being enshrined in the Federal Constitution, Malaya would not have achieved independence in the first place.

As Prof Emeritus Dr Khoo Kay Kim remarked, "‎The reason why there are groups questioning the rights and privileges of the Malays is because the society of today is blind about history."

Prof Khoo explained that, "When the British came to Malaya, they found that there were already Malay governments in several parts of the peninsula, and the British recognised these governments. These governments took care of a large number of people (the Malays).

"For the British, these people had their special rights. But those who came to and lived in Malaya were not subjects of the rulers and, therefore, did not enjoy the same rights enjoyed by the Malays."

He added that the non-Malays in the peninsula at the time were not citizens or subjects of the king, saying they only had the opportunity to apply for citizenship when the Federation of Malaya was formed on 1 February 1948.

When the British planned the formation of the Malay Federation as a nation state, it was an extension of what already existed then, and by 1957, the Federal Constitution was formulated, incorporating the prevailing arrangement at that time.

The people, especially those of other races, should therefore respect the rights and privileges of the Malays as enshrined in the constitution because, when it was first formulated, the various races had already agreed to what needed to be incorporated in it, he said.

Of course, there are people who disagree, and quite surprisingly, among them is Lembah Pantai MP Nurrul Izzah Anwar, who wrote in The Malaysian Insider news portal that the idea of Malay rights as advocated by the right-wing group, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) was "a mere ideological and philosophical construct" not rooted in the constitution.

The basis of Nurrul Izzah's argument is that, according to the Reid Commission, which drafted the constitution, "Article 153 was intended as a temporary preference to seek racial parity, subject to be reviewed after 15 years by parliament as to its continued need."

With all due respect, regardless of what Perkasa says or believes in, when rights and privileges are stipulated in the Federal Constitution by virtue of Article 153, then they are indeed rooted or enshrined in the Constitution and not a mere ideological and philosophical construct. There is no such thing as a "halfway house", which Nurrul Izzah appears to be suggesting with her pseudo-legal argument.

Even first year law students know this, in that the special rights and privileges are either there or not there in the Federal Constitution, and not somewhere in-between.

Furthermore, as Prof Dr Zainal Kling points out, "the Reid Report contained only recommendations, which have been amended by the White Paper on the Malayan Constitution, published in London."

(see "Special Rights Cannot Be Erased Unless the Malays Agree to it", BERNAMA, 7 Sept 2010).

In short, Nurrul Izzah appears to be babbling like an idiot.

Now is not the time to question the special rights and privileges of the Malays, especially when the situation of economic disparity among the races remains a thorny issue. Politicians should know better than to do this.

For those who are not politicians, beware of self-serving politicians on both sides of the divide (right or left) who are simply out to gain popularity and votes. They offer only short-term gains and pies in the sky. Don't let these idiots drive a wedge between races and religions in their quest for power.

Instead of focusing on nation building, especially poverty eradication, they go and stir up a hornets' nest. In the end, everyone pays the price for their stupidity.

We are in this nation for the long-haul, people. Know Malaysia's history, your history. Make sure your children know Malaysia's history, so that they won't be easily duped by self-serving politicians and their ignorant rabble-rousing followers.

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