The 1957 ‘Merdeka’ Federal Constitution And Formation Of Malaysia Federal Constitution 1963 Should Be Driving Force Towards National Unity Amongst The Various Races And National Integration Between East And West Malaysia

Opening Speech
 During The Perak DAP State Leadership Retreat
Lim Guan Eng

(Lumut, Sunday):  The 1957 ‘Merdeka’ Federal Constitution and formation of Malaysia Federal Constitution 1963 should be driving force towards national unity amongst the various races and national integration between East and West Malaysia. Further we should palce priority on the creation of a bangsa Malaysia where we are known as Malaysians first and Malays, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan and Iban second. 

For that reason, we should ban all political parties that discriminate amongst Malaysians by limiting their members to one race or one religion. Similarly any separation or differentiation amongst Malaysians that is not provided for in the Federal Constitution should not play any role or be part of national development policy  

To achieve our objective of a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society,  a return to the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and the formation of Malaysian Federal Constitution in 1963 is the only feasible alternative. As the basis and foundation for independence and establishment of Malaysia, reverting to the original constitution would not be controversial or invite serious dispute. 

First it reflects the Merdeka social contract whether on the status of religion, national language, powers of royalty, constitutional monarchy and basic human rights. Two, it reminds us that securing independence from the British colonialist was premised on the principles of democracy and universal suffrage forged together through the process of consultation. One important factor was the importance of the doctrine of separation of powers between Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary and that individual freedom and rights must always be accompanied with personal responsibility. 

Thirdly reverting to the original version will also serve as a catalyst and force for national unity and integration by underlining socio-economic justice in balanced economic and educational development based on merits and needs. It is regrettable that such noble objectives have been subverted by repeated constitutional amendments during the last 48 years until the present Federal Constitution is different from the original version.  

For instance, increasing the powers of the Prime Minister and the Executive has eroded the supremacy of Parliament until it is reduced to a mere appendage of the Prime Minister’s Department. Amendments that violate basic human rights negating the freedom and right of assembly, speech and equal treatment until detention without trial becomes the norm. Police powers are so vast that the term police state is no longer a misnomer when applied to Malaysia.                                                                                                           

Further, educational and cultural polices that projects the concept of racial dominance must be set aside The ideology of racial supremacy or dominance is so clearly discredited that it is not just outdated, it is also very dangerous.  This is shown by historical record of Hitler’s attempts to prove the supremacy and superiority of the Aryan Nazi that finally caused the Second World War and tens of millions dead.   

Regrettably, the concept of racial dominance or ketuanan Melayu was introduced in the Form 3 and 5 History textbooks last year when it was never mentioned for the past 46 years from 1957 to 2003. No BN leader has objected to “ketuanan Melayu”, including MCA. It is unhealthy that our students at such a tender age be exposed to the idea of discrimination and its consequences of creating first and second-class citizens.   

Such words of “ketuanan Melayu” must be dropped from history textbooks learnt by all our children because it contradicts with our culture of tolerance and democracy. Further such words are dangerous as it serves to create a sense of superiority and inferiority in our children. 

The Merdeka 1957 Federal Constitution can help to restore the people’s rights and establish the principles of freedom, justice and accountability. The people regardless of race and religion can unite under the banner of democracy such as restoring local government elections and fighting corruption.  Unity achieved under such a basis is more enduring and permanent because it guarantees prosperity that is just and fair to all Malaysians.  


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General