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Thursday, May 31, 2012

When the mouth moves faster than the brain


I know that many readers of Malaysia Today are young Malaysians, probably born after Merdeka or around that time. This means you do not know what happened in the 1940s and 1950s and how a formula for peaceful coexistence was hammered out between the Malays and the non-Malays. Hence it is good we reflect on the history of our country. And if we can understand and honour the spirit of the Merdeka Social Contract, then a lot of conflict can be avoided.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
The ‘Social Contract’ is not a written document, said one-time Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It is a verbal contract, explained Dr Mahathir. A verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on, most lawyers would tell you (and I bet many Malaysia Today readers would not get the ‘punch line’ to this statement).
Anyway, verbal contracts are binding in certain situations. In Islam, a verbal contract is binding as long as there are witnesses of good standing (meaning, who have never been proven to have lied in the past) who can testify as to the existence of that verbal contract. Nevertheless, Islam encourages that all contacts be committed to paper to avoid possible disputes in future. After all, witness can lie or they might die.
Whatever it may be, does such a Social Contract exist? I am talking, of course, about the ‘contract’ between the Malays and the non-Malays when Merdeka was being negotiated with the British. Dr Mahathir says it is a verbal and not a written contract.
Okay, maybe there was no real ‘signing ceremony’, if that is what Dr Mahathir meant. I mean, when we launched‘The People’s Declaration’ at the Blog House in the run-up to the March 2008 General Election, it was done in a proper and official ceremony. Six political parties including PKR, DAP and PAS turned up to ‘sign’ the Declaration. And each of the six party representatives gave speeches, not only to endorse ‘The People’s Declaration’ but also promising that if they won the election they would deliver on their promises.
Nevertheless, that was more than four years ago. And although these six political parties, three of them now in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, did not win the federal government, Pakatan Rakyat did win five state governments, now down to four. But they do not want to fulfil their promise made pre-March 2008 in front of more than 100 people in the ceremony to launch ‘The People’s Declaration’.
In fact, I raised this matter with Anwar Ibrahim, Tian Chua and Tunku Aziz Ibrahim when they came to the UK on 2nd October 2010. You can see the three videos below. Then, not long after that, Anwar went to Australia and whacked me for what I said in London.
Is Anwar saying that we, the members of the civil society movements, do not have a ‘Social Contract’ with the six political parties not from the Barisan Nasional coalition? Of course we do. And it is more than just a verbal contract that Dr Mahathir is talking about.
So, a short while later, also in 2010, when we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM), why such hostility? Why declare the MCLM as the enemy of Pakatan Rakyat? And now that you have declared us the enemy and we act like an enemy you are not happy about it. Was it we or was it you who declared war?
Anyway, that is not what I really want to talk about. As usual, I am just digressing. What I want to talk about is theMerdeka Social Contract, the so-called verbal contract that is the brunt of so much conflict and racial posturing.
Actually, it is not a verbal contract. It is a written contract. And it is written in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. Hence Dr Mahathir, Ibrahim Ali, etc., are all wrong. Those born in Malaysia are Malaysians. They are not Chinese, Indians, pendatang, immigrants, or whatever. That was the agreed terms of the Merdeka Social Contract, which is part of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
It is wrong to refer to non-Malays as pendatang or immigrants. It is also wrong to treat them as such. They are as Malaysian as any other person born in Malaysia. No two ways about it.
Okay, and what else is in that Merdeka Social Contract? Well, one thing was that the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States would no longer exist and they would all be merged into the Federation of Malaya or Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (later renamed the Federation of Malaysia).
In that same spirit, the institution of the Monarchy would be retained but the Rulers would be reduced from Absolute Monarchs to Constitutional Monarchs and governance would be transferred from the Palace to the elected/appointed Houses (Parliament and Senate) and the State Assemblies.
Furthermore, Islam would be the religion of the Federation and Malay would be the National Language. And in some states, mainly those with Rulers and not Governors, only a Malay/Muslim can be appointed the Menteri Besar.
Yes, that was the ‘Contract’ made between the Malays and the non-Malays in the run-up to Merdeka. And, in exchange for that, all non-Malays born in India, China, etc., would be given citizenship while those born in Malaya after Merdeka would get automatic citizenship. They would not be classified as foreigners or need to apply for citizenship.
And that is why, today, all of you who are not Malays are Malaysians and not Chinese, Indian, etc., nationals -- unless you wish to give up your Malaysian citizenship and migrate. That is you right -- to automatic citizenship. And no one can take away that right, not even Ibrahim Ali or Perkasa, because that was the Merdeka Social Contract that the Malays and non-Malays agreed on.
However, just as your citizenship cannot be taken away, as per the terms of the Merdeka Social Contract, you too must honour the other terms of that Contract. And those terms are, other than Islam being the religion of the Federation and Malay being the National Language, is that Malaysia would retain a Constitutional Monarchy. That was agreed in the Merdeka Social Contract.
Hence it is imprudent for you to question whether Malaysia should just abolish the Monarchy and change into a Republic (or question Islam as the religion of the Federation or Malay as the National Language). Doing so would mean you want to terminate the Merdeka Social Contract. And terminating the Merdeka Social Contractis dangerous because those who are not Malays would not receive automatic Malaysian citizenship.
I would vote in favour of retaining the Merdeka Social Contract. That would create lesser problems for all of us. Then Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa cannot demand that anyone’s citizenship be withdrawn. Your citizenship would be your right. Without the Merdeka Social Contract you would not be protected and would not automatically be granted Malaysian citizenship.
However, this would also mean we should not demand that Islam be removed as the religion of the Federation or Malay as the National Language. We cannot also demand that the Monarchy be abolished and for Malaysia to be turned into a Republic. That would be seditious, just as seditious as asking for Malaysian-born Chinese and Indians to be sent back to China and/or India.
I know that many readers of Malaysia Today are young Malaysians, probably born after Merdeka or around that time. This means you do not know what happened in the 1940s and 1950s and how a formula for peaceful coexistence was hammered out between the Malays and the non-Malays. Hence it is good we reflect on the history of our country. And if we can understand and honour the spirit of the Merdeka Social Contract, then a lot of conflict can be avoided.
So let us not allow a minor thing such as a car registration number spoil everything. Was His Highness the Sultan of Johor acting out of conduct (misconduct) when he tendered for ‘WWW 1’? Was there an element of fraud or corruption? Has there been fair play in His Highness winning the bid?
Do we question a Chinese towkay who wants to pay an exorbitant sum of money for a number ‘8’? What if Chua Soi Lek pays RM500,000 for ‘CSL 1’ to put on his car? Would we demand that Parliament be abolished because a Member of Parliament wasted RM500,000 of his own money on a car registration number?
Yes, I know, Raja Petra Kamarudin is saying all this because he is from the royal family so he wants to defend the Sultan, some of you are going to comment. So what if I want to defend the Sultans when they are right? Have I not whacked the Sultans many times when they are wrong? Have I not whacked the Perak Sultan for toppling the Pakatan Rakyat state government until my own family disowned me?
I have paid my dues. Hence I have earned my right to defend the Sultans when they do nothing wrong because I have whacked them when they are wrong. In that same spirit, if you can spend some time to view the three videos below, you can also see that I have earned the right to whack Pakatan Rakyat for not delivering on its promises.

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