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Sunday, January 30, 2011

From special position to ‘ketuanan’


Law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi reckons that Bumiputera is merely a term coined for political mileage.

KUALA LUMPUR: There is nothing racial about Article 160 of the Federal Constitution’s definition of the word ‘Malays,’ according to Law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi.

He said there was “no requirement for one to be from the Malay stock.”

Shad, who is from Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Law faculty, said the article merely states that one has to be Muslim, practice the Malay customs, speak Malay language, is born in Malaya and has at least one Malay parent.

However, this definition of “Malay” differs from that in the Malay Reservation Enactment.

“Indonesian Malays and Thai Malays who do not qualify under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution however qualify under the state enactment.

“Which is how so many plots of land are bought by Indonesians,” he explained to a 100-strong crowd who attended the Bar Council’s “Forum on Race Relations and Religion: Towards Equality and Non-discrimination” yesterday.

Touching on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which provides for preferential treatment for Malays, Shad said there was no such word as “privilege or rights.”

“The constitution doesn’t give the word ‘privilege’ and doesn’t use ‘rights’. It uses ‘kedudukan istimewa’ (special position). But as things went on, ‘special position’ became ‘special privilege’.

“What became ‘privilege’ became ‘right’. And ‘right’ became ‘ketuanan’,” explained Shad, adding that “ketuanan” was interpreted as supremacy as in “Malay Supremacy”.

Afirmative majority

Shad also noted that Malaysia was the only nation that provided “affirmative action” for the majority.

He said in most other nations it was the minority groups that received “affirmative action”.

“There is no harm in the majority grouping having affirmative action so long as they are needy and action is done within a fixed time frame.

“For instance women are a group that should be given affirmative action,” he said.

Earlier during his opening address, Shad noted that the Malaysian constitution was deeply flawed because “it is an example of social engineering that attempted to compromise” with the different races.

He said any attempts to dislodge Article 153 would tear the Malaysian society.

Responding to a question on the concept of “Bumiputera”, Shad dismissed the term as “political mileage.”

Addressing the question from a member of Amnesty International. Shad said: “It is something that includes those who should be excluded and excludes those who should be included… (it is all) for political mileage which explains why Malay parties have leaders with non-Malay features’.

“It is a term that does not exist in the constitution. And there is no political will to resolve the issues.”

In conclusion, Shad suggested the formation of a commission to resolve the current outstanding issues.

Also presenting at the talk were Dimitriana Petrova of the Equal Rights Trust and Kuala Selangor MP, Dzulkefly Ahmad. - FMT

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