UMNO should stop claiming Malay dominance (Ketuanan Melayu) to preserve and safeguard national unity and racial harmony in the country

Media statement
by Ronnie Liu

(Kuala Lumpur,  Friday): The so-called Malay Dominance or Malay the Master Race (Ketuanan Melayu) as claimed in Form 5 History textbook, page 108-109 (published by Dewan Budaya & Pustaka) serves no purpose but undermines national unity in the long run if not expunged. Such claim is not only politically-incorrect and insensitive but also immoral in the context of a multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural society like ours. It certainly runs against the so-called Bangsa Malaysia concept expounded in the Vision 2020 document.

DAP leaders were not in anyway questioning the special position granted to the Malays in the Federal Constitution. Our concern is that we do not want our young students to think that they are now living in a country where a certain race is seen as a special-class or privileged-class citizens.

Malay dominance is a claim championed only by the UMNO leaders. The claim was never accepted by DAP and other right-minded Malaysians.

UMNO leaders and other chauvinists have always made reference to Article 153 of the Federal Constitution to back their claims on such special privileges. But they must not forget that the original intention of Article 153 was to protect the Malays for the survival of the community after the Independence. It was not meant to be there to discriminate against other races in the country.

All citizens are equal before the law. Nowhere does the Federal Constitution grant the Malays first-class citizens or categorizing the non-Malays as second-class. It also does not in anyway suggesting that the Malays be granted the so-called Malay dominance (Ketuanan Melayu) over other races in the country as claimed in the Tingkatan 5 Sejarah textbook.

Let us take a closer look at Article 153 in the Federal Constitution:

Clause 1 of Article 153 states: "It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article."

Clause 2 states that the Yang di-pertuan Agong shall safeguard the special position of the Malays by reserving positions "of such proportion as he may deem reasonable" in a) the public service b) educational facilities and c) business licenses.

Clauses 3 and 6 say that the Yang di-pertuan Agong may, for purpose of fulfilling Clause 2, give general directions to the relevant authorities, which shall then duly comply.

There are several provisions under different clauses in this Article, prohibiting the deprivation of the existing facilities enjoyed by the non-Malays. Clause 5 consists of one sentence, which reads: "This Article does not derogate from the provisions of Article 136."

Article 136 also consists of one sentence, which reads: "All persons of whatever race in the same grade in the service of the Federation shall, subject to the terms and conditions of their employment, be treated impartially."

Clause 9 consists of one sentence, which reads: "Nothing in this Article shall empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of reservations for Malays."

Clause 1 of Article 89(Equality) states: "All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law."

Clause 2 states: "Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth any law or in the appointment on any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding of disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on any trade, business, vocation or employment."

It's high time for UMNO to drop such a claim to preserve and safeguard national unity and racial harmony in the country.

After all, both the former and current Prime Ministers have spoken about the risk and "disadvantage" of over-reliance on special privileges. They have even described such privileges as crutches or tongkat. But it's sad to note that some younger leaders in UMNO like Hishamuddin Hussein and Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh were too shallow to understand the implications of such over-dependence.

MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC leaders should be bold enough to advice their counterparts in UMNO to remove such claims in the textbooks for the sake of national unity and racial harmony in the country. It's also a good opportunity for them to prove their patriotism.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief