We cannot keep living in the past

 
Giudice | Apr 17, 08 3:35pm
 

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Tengku Faris: Non-Malays should not seek equality.

I am most disappointed with Tengku Faris and I feel that the speech highlights one aspect which is so wrong with this country – that there are some Malays who feel that they are superior to the ‘other races’, have special rights, deserve special privileges and different treatment. I should emphasise that it is only some, and not all, Malays.

I stand to be corrected but contrary to what Tengku Faris said, the ‘other races’ do not seek privileges. We merely seek equality. Malaysians of every race contributed and continue to contribute to this country. Indeed, I would go as far as saying that if not for the efforts of the Malays together with the contribution of the ‘other races’, we may not have even gained independence at the time we did.

The suggestion by Tengku Faris that Malay rights and special privileges is a quid pro quo in gratitude for the giving of citizenship to 2.7 million non-Malays into the Tanah Melayu federation, unfortunately fails to consider the same.

Tengku Faris should also have specified exactly what Malay rights and special privileges he means, with reference to where it is provided for in the Federal Constitution, lest it be misconstrued. One of the problems the country is facing is that some have conveniently justified all sorts of biased and unfair policies under the label of ‘Malays rights and special privileges’.

There should be a thorough study (taking into account history, circumstances, the Federal Constitution and other relevant considerations) on what exactly are ‘Malay rights and special privileges’. This is not meant to question the same but rather set the parameters of the same. How could policies be made under the label of ‘Malay rights and privileges’ when most in the country do not truly understand and know what it encompasses? Surely something this important cannot be left ambiguous, especially when it affects all citizens in one way or another?

In any event, I suggest that we cannot keep living in the past. Times change and so do circumstances. There must be fluidity in thought, to cater for such changes. To suggest that it is not appropriate for ‘ethnic groups to have citizenship, only (later) to seek equality and privileges’ is to ignore such changes. After so many years of contribution in different ways by Malaysians of different races, I advocate that all Malaysians should be treated equally.

Indeed, I believe that the Federal Constitution seeks to do exactly this. To use a simple example, why should a non-bumiputera pay more for the purchase of a say RM1m house as compared with a bumiputera? No one I have spoken to has been able to give me a straightforward answer. I can readily accept in principle the fact someone in the low income bracket (regardless of race) is given some form of subsidy for the purchase of a low cost unit, but why should this apply to individuals who obviously are not in the low income bracket?

Instead of suggesting Malay unity, Tengku Faris should have talked about Malaysian unity. While Tengku Faris’ speech may have gone down well with some, I venture to opine that more and more Malaysians including Malay Malaysians do not feel the same anymore. This is perhaps best reflected in the results of the recently concluded elections.

Maintaining a divide and difference between Malays and the ‘other races’ would, in my opinion, be detrimental to Malaysia. On the other hand, acknowledging that all Malaysians are equal would unite all Malaysians to work together to propel Malaysia forward.

Lastly, I am not sure if Tengku Faris was playing to the grandstand but I for one would humbly ask him to point put where in the Federal Constitution does it say that Malaysia is an Islamic country.

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