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Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Monday, 9th March 2009:

Equal rights and opportunities for all

It is heartening to see the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Syed Jamalullail, calling for equal rights for all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

The Ruler has also taken a whack at some politicians who ride on the Ketuanan Melayu ticket, accusing them of using narrow-minded ways to achieve personal objectives.

The Sultan is absolutely right.

The Malay Supremacy or Ketuanan Melayu is a complete failure. It has failed to create independent progressive thinking among the ruling elite, broken down race-relations in the country and torn apart the fundamentals of democracy, accountability and transparency.

The Malays are aware of the fact that the special privileges and affirmative action policies were used as a political tool to betray the masses while the benefits were shared among UMNO elites and patrons.

This realisation brought about the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition government's dismal performance at last year's general election, with the opposition winning five states.

It also led to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announcing a power transition plan to his deputy Najib Tun Razak, in a desperate attempt to quell the infighting in ruling UMNO, placate and if possible regain the confidence of the Malays who once formed the bedrock support of the party.

The Ketuanan Melayu has also caused wastage to resources which could have been channelled to tackle real issues.

But it is not too late.

I urge the government to discard racial policies and instead provide equal funding and assistance to all Malaysians as the economy faces an impending recession.

In fact, equal opportunities and rights for all is the catch phrase of the Pakatan Rakyat government and the mantra of its lawmakers and state assembly person to create new politics in Malaysia.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang



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