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

at the DAP Perak 12th Annual Convention
by Ngeh Koo Ham

(Kuala Lumpur,  Friday): The decline in the performance of DAP in the last 3 general elections since 1995 saw the increase in official racial and religious discriminations in Malaysia. Racial and religious discriminations are against universal values as entrenched in the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. Racial and religious consideration continue to dictate the government policies because the dominant political parties in Malaysia are base on race or religion. The DAP stands out distinctively as a party that advocates equality for every Malaysia citizen irrespective of their race or religion. I call on the people to support the stand advocated by the DAP if we want to see a united and progressive Malaysia. History is a testimony to us that a nation ruled by racial and religious discrimination will only end in strife and ruin. 

1) The Government must treat every citizen equally irrespective of race

Article 8 provides for equal treatment of all persons irrespective of race or religion while Article 153 allows the Government to render special assistance to Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak by reserving such proportion as may be reasonable in only 5 areas namely positions in public service, scholarships, exhibitions, educational or training privileges and permits or licences for operation of trade or business.

Art 153 is intended to help the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak who are poorer and in need of help rather that the creation of a ‘Bumiputra’  privilege class. Our Government was vocal against aparteid in South Africa but has been practising it in our own backyard. 

The Government has breached Article 153 in failing to observe ‘such proportion as may be reasonable’ in the public service. 

There is now 83.7% Bumiputra, 8.2% Chinese, 5.2% Indians and 3.3% others in the Federal Government’s Public Service. At the Perak State Level there is 87.83% Malays, 0.97% Chinese, 8.37% Indian and 0.23% others in the State Public Service. These figures are reflective of a racially discriminatory policy in the recruitment of public servants of the Federal and State Governments. 

Similarlly, in all the other 4 areas the proportion allocated for Bumiputra is also disproportionate. What is most disheartening is that many poor and needy bumiputras do not benefit from this huge allocation set aside for Bumiputras. 

The Government has also acted blatantly against  Article 153 in the following ares. Discrimination in the following areas is absolutely prohibited by the Federal Constitution:- 

(i)    Insisting that Government contracts must be awarded to bumiputras.

(ii)   Insisting that Bumiputras be given 5% to 10% discount in the purchase of houses and business premises. 

(iii)  Giving book loans to parents earning less than RM2,000-00 in Malay or Religious medium schools while those in Chinese medium schools are entitled to book loan only if the parents earn less thanRM1,000-00. 

There are many more illustrations of racial discrimination which the Government practices in  contravention of  Art 153 of the Federal Constitution. 

The people must be united behind DAP to ensure that all Malaysian citizens are treated equally irrespective race or religion. DAP advocates special assistance to only those who are poor and needy which was the spirit behind Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and also the basis of our party’s social policy. 

2) The Government must treat every citizen equally irrespective of religion 

There is also an increasing trend to discriminate base on religion and I call on the PM to immediately address the following 2 matters. 

  ( I )    Call on the Prime Minister to honour Article 11 of the Federal Constitution and direct the National Registration Department to allow all persons who are no longer muslims to have their religious status amended or deleted.  


The refusal by the NRD to allow persons who have left the Muslim faith and embrace another faith or revert to their original faith is causing much hardship, injustice and problems to those affected. Such refusal is against Art 11 of the Federal Constitution. 

They cannot contract marriages with non-Muslims and in many cases children were born out of wedlock due to this reason. The former Muslim parent’s name has to be left out  in the birth certificate of the child to avoid further problems for the child. 

Our Government protested when an international report states that there is restriction on religious practices in Malaysia. Though Article 11 of the Federal Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, in practice there is no freedom for Muslims to convert out of the faith or revert to their original faith. We do not need another international report to highlight the hardship of those affected before we respect the provision of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.


In the past our courts have accepted it as a right of a Muslim to convert out of the Islamic faith, it has now declined application from those who wish to convert out of the faith on the ground that it no longer has the jurisdiction to do so due to the insertion of Article 121 (1A) into the Federal Constitution ousting its jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.


( II ) Call on the Prime Minister to withdraw any intention to amend the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 making civil court orders unenforceable against those who convert to Islam. 

I have received a document in the form of a bill to amend the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 with provisions that Court Orders of the civil court will no longer be enforceable against a spouse who has converted to Islam. Such provisions will encourage people to use Islam to avoid responsibility to their children and ex-spouse. Surely Islam cannot be advocating such injustice. 

I call on the Prime Minister to clarify if such an amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 is intended. If so, DAP call on him to immediately withdraw any such intention. 

 Of late I notice that many leaders of associations and societies are influenced and beholden to the little-little allocations given by Barisan National component parties to their associations and societies. Their hearts and votes were bought by BN and they in turn will influence the public to support the BN.  I would like to remind community leaders that such allocations are public funds and the associations and societies are entitled to them. These funds are taxpayers’ money not from the pockets of BN leaders. 

I call on community leaders to ensure that all political parties carry out their actual roles i.e. to ensure that the respective communities’ educational, economic, cultural, religious, social and political rights are treated fairly and with respect.  

DAP’s stand is consistent with the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the teachings of all major religions. Racism and religious bigotry are on the opposite end. Therefore, the stand and values that DAP holds on to, ought to have the support of all Malaysians.                        


* Ngeh Koo Ham, Perak DAP Chairman & Opposition Leader in the Perak State Assembly