Tag Archives: Ketuanan Melayu

Idiotic pride displayed for all to see

Azly Rahman | May 19, 08 1:29pm


Recently, Johoreans formulated a resolution on ketuanan Melayu. I do not know what this means at a time when our political-psychological landscape has changed.

They met at a time when Umno is so messed up and its old and new presidents are fighting like the Jacobins and the Girondins, and Parliament looks like the trading floor of the New York Stock exchange in the days of ticker-tape.

malaysia people rakyatThe Johoreans are doing the ketuanan Bahasa Melayu thing when Malays and Malaysians are in need of powerful mastery of the English Language to not only progress but also to understand why the majority of Malays are digressing while the powerful few are plundering.

Is this what Johor Malays are good at, in their critical analysis of society? Or is this the hypocritical sensibility the Melayu Bangsawan Johor possesses?

I do not know. Having been born and raised in Johor, I have a different view of this Johor hegemony.

This is the Berita Harian report on the resolution, as cited on the Malaysian Bar Council website on May 5, 2008:


Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu bertemakan ‘Kedaulatan Melayu Paksi Kewujudan Bangsa’ selama tiga hari di Johor Bahru yang berakhir semalam, menyaksikan usaha bersungguh-sungguh lebih 2,000 peserta mewakili 200 pertubuhan bukan kerajaan Melayu dari seluruh negara mahu bangsa Melayu terus unggul…. Mereka mahu kuasa, kedaulatan dan ketuanan Melayu terus dipelihara, bukan membiarkannya diancam oleh pihak lain.

It’s a very powerful resolution. Sounds like a reiteration of the ideology of the Biro Tata Negara. There is nothing wrong with holding a conference to reiterate the need to feel good about oneself from time to time. But I wonder if it is about critical sensibility or hypocritical one-dimensionality.

I am familiar with the mind of the Johor Malay, having being raised in that sub-culture. It has its progressive streak but it has its digressive streak as well.

The resolution highlights very critical issues for the ‘survival’ of the Johor Malays, as they would contend.

The real threats

I believe that these are the real issues that need to be urgently addressed:

•    Investigation into the cultural breakdown of the Malays and its relationship to the ideology of development brought about by Johor Umno

southern johor development region wilayah pembangunan iskandar 141107•    The nature of controlling interests in the Iskandar Development Region; who will benefit in the large scale hyper-modernised development projects and what is the nature of inter-locking directorateship?

•    The issue of distribution of wealth and uneven development since Independence and since the rule of Barisan Nasional

•    The stand of the Johor leadership vis-a-vis the crisis plaguing the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and what the Johoreans are going to do about it

•    The potential wave of crossovers of Johor Umno members due the nature of meltdown in party leadership

•    The attractiveness of the idea of radical multi-cultural politics and how this is influencing the younger generation of Johoreans and what this will do the future of BN in Johor.

•    The weakness of Johor Umno itself in addressing the growing interest in the ideology of Pakatan Rakyat

english medium for maths and science education in chinese school•    The issue of the use of the English language in the teaching of Mathematics and Science

•    The idea that non-Malays are threatening the ‘sovereignty’ of Malays – and notice that ketuanan Melayu is being replaced by kedaulatan melayu

•    The increasing number of high-level, high profile unresolved corruption cases over the last 30 years

I believe that the aim of the congress is not to strengthen the will of the Malays but to mask the real issue of oppression that has plagued the Malays of Johor.  

The Malays of Johor and other states need to fight to end all forms of totalitarianism against Malaysians – those that are in the form of Biro Tata Negara, National Service, Internal Security Act, Universities and University Colleges Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act, and all kinds of acts that repress.

Johor Malays should have better things to do than to mask the real issue of a nation in need of education and socialisation for religious and racial understanding, instead of passing resolutions to warn against other races against ‘challenging ketuanan Melayu’.

Malay dignity lies in wisdom and not in war-mongering nor in idiotic pride. A good resolution in any congress should reflect this, not renew hatred and instill unfounded or dumbfounded fear among younger Malays.  

We need to grow wiser as we grow older. We see so many senile Malay leaders who are growing old with hatred, so that they may hide their insecurities and perhaps escape prosecution for unwise decisions they have implemented.

Johoreans, have another congress. This time, discuss the real issue of why the Malays are now deeply depressed.


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Apa itu Ketuanan Melayu?: Khir Toyo


Berikut adalah nukilan Khir Toyo dalam blognya yang menerangkan apakah maksud Ketuanan Melayu yang sebenarnya… Saya tertarik dengan beberapa pernyataannya…

Jika isu ketuanan Melayu yang menjadi masalah kepada orang muda dari kaum Cina dan India, maka kita perlu menerangkan asas mengapa ketuanan Melayu itu menjadi salah satu perjuangan UMNO. Malahan sebahagian orang muda Melayu sendiri hari ini sudah tidak faham makna ketuanan Melayu.

Ketuanan Melayu bukanlah untuk menjadikan Melayu ini Tuan dan bukan Melayu sebagai Hamba. Sebaliknya Ketuanan Melayu bermaksud atau simbol kedudukan Sultan-Sultan Melayu sebagai tunggak negara yang menjaga kepentingan agama Islam, adat istiadat Melayu dan Bahasa Melayu.

Sebab itu apabila para pemimpin kita dahulu memutuskan perjuangan mempertahankan ketuanan Melayu ia merupakan perjuangan mempertahankan kedudukan kesultanan Melayu, agama Islam, adat istiadat orang Melayu dan Bahasa Melayu.

Tidak ada salah dengan kenyataan atau laungan mempertahankan Ketuanan Melayu sekiranya kita memberi kefahaman yang tepat kepada orang ramai. Mempertahankan ketuanan Melayu merupakan mempertahankan asas-asas Perlembagaan Negara. Apakah perlembagaan negara merupakan sebuah perlembagaan yang berunsur perkauman?

Saya melihat begitu ramai orang bukan Melayu yang menikmati kemajuan pesat negara, malah dalam banyak keadaan kaum bukan Melayu meraih kek ekonomi yang lebih besar berbanding orang Melayu. Orang Melayu sendiri tidak pernah menganggap dirinya tuan atau mahu dipanggil tuan. Malah orang Melayu juga berusaha keras untuk berjaya di negara ini

Ketuanan Melayu tidak pernah menindas bangsa lain atau menjadikan bangsa lain sebagai hamba. Selama berpuluh tahun UMNO membawa perjuangan Ketuanan Melayu tidak ada satu bangsa pun yang ditindas atau menjadi hamba.

Jika Ketuanan Melayu hanyalah seperti apa yang dikatakan oleh Khir ini, Rakyat Malaysia tidak akan risau. Tetapi kita semua tahu dan sedar bahawa apa yang diungkapkan diatas hanyalah idea yang digunakan untuk mengaburkan mata dan minda kita.

Benarkah tidak ada satu bangsa pun ditindas dalam usaha UMNO untuk memperjuangkan Ketuanan Melayu? Tepuk dada tanya selera!

Ketuanan Melayu adalah untuk mempertahankan asas-asas perlembagaan Malaysia? Maka, tidak salah jika wujud terma-terma seperti Ketuanan India, Ketuanan Cina, Ketuanan Iban, Ketuanan Dayak, Ketuanan Bajau, Ketuanan Asli dan banyak lagi. Hal ini kerana bangsa/kaum lain yang bukan Melayu juga mempertahankan asas-asas perlembagaan.

Dalam proses memajukan dan membangunkan Malaysia, bukan satu kaum sahaja yang berusaha keras! Kalau tak pasti tolong pelajari Sejarah Malaysia….

Malaysia tidak akan berubah selagi rakyatnya yang majoriti tidak mengubah mentalitinya… Kini tahun 2008, tapi mentaliti tahun 1970…


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Social Contract exist or not? what is the Specialists opinion?


Professor Shamsul Amri Baharudin, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies (Kita) director

First of all, I would like to say he (Ungku Aziz) is giving an economist response whereby he goes by the letter of the law and he’ll look at statistics and the cost-benefit analysis of things. I don’t know what he reads aside from economic books but political scientists and historians have said that we do have a social contract.

Our constitution has a general and miscellaneous section. No other constitution in the world has this section and it shows that the Reid Commission acknowledged the right of Malay rulers, customs and language. The social contract is a convergence of different opinions. It is an agreement to be different by the people.

The translation of ketuanan Melayu is wrong. It is not Malay supremacy, it is Malay sovereignty. Ketuanan is a very colonial term. (Former deputy minister) Abdullah Ahmad had very little knowledge as to what it means when he first raised it in 1986. Sovereignty is not a foreign concept as it is prevalent in other countries such as Belgium and England with monarchs. The idea that Malays are the boss and the rest is not, is a misconception.

Nobody is dominant. The social contract was raised when the constitution was created and the Reid commission included the condition to satisfy all groups possible. The people then began to see it as a form of agreement and convergence. However, later on, people started seeing it as a contract. Not in a legalistic sort of way but how it was made and how the terms are constantly being renegotiated.

(PKR de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim)’s ketuanan rakyat (people supremacy) is no different from ketuanan Melayu. If rakyat means demographics and clearly Malays and bumiputeras being the majority at 60 percent. It is just another idiom to hide the point that Malays are sovereign. Don’t just focus on Malay sovereignty because otherwise it would just be ethnic talk and not a constitutional or Malaysian talk. We have to get rid of such racist perceptions.

Has anyone asked why Sabah has 20 extra conditions like requirement of work permits from those in Peninsula Malaysia? Why don’t we talk about that? We have to look at the social contract from the larger context and not just at the Malays. Peninsula Malaysians should demand for work permits to be abolished if Sabah wants more royalties. The problem is that the issues are skewed and people are blinded by it.

In 1969, the consultative councils made up of 100 representatives around the country thought of formulating this policy in addressing the problems of backwardness faced by the ethnic groups. They were thinking of solving the ownership problems as almost 60 percent of property belonging to foreigners and 21 percent to the Chinese.

The NEP was about increasing property ownership so that it reflected the demographics equitably. The majority at that time did not have majority ownership so to change this, they started with the economy.

Article 153 of the constitution provides the basis which creates the paradigm for NEP. NEP provided the package that stated the target and objectives but there are other ways of doing this. The discussion and debates that we have now is how the package is not working. It is creating unhappiness all around.

This is why ‘Umnoputera’ is now a word, not bumiputera. If you want to go back and change things, the Parliament will have to change it and make it clearer. The social contract will remain relevant so long as the constitution is relevant. The social contract is realised in the constitution which gives us the symbol of the contract.

The NEP was created from the understanding of Article 153 and it ended in 1990. But it persisted until now so it is known as ‘Never Ending Policy’. However, I think it warrants another name – ‘Never Ending Polemic’ as it continues to divide society.

Society is already divided ethnically and to proceed to the next stage, the politicians should use rational thinking instead of exploiting the emotional thinking of the people. The nature of political parties that are ethnicise is that they have to go on being emotional to garner votes.

To me, (Umno Youth chief) Hishammuddin (Hussein) and (DAP chairperson) Karpal (Singh) are no different. They are voicing different voices but it’s all the same and it’s divisive. Our politicians organise themselves on differences.

Onn Jaafar from Umno is the greatest example. After two years he was expelled from his party which shows that if you took a non-ethnic stand, it’s goodbye for you.


Dr Mavis Puthucheary, associate research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas)

Ungku Aziz is right. It is not a social contract which implies the relationship between the state and the people. If you look at the Western concept of social contract like John Locke, the idea of a social contract is that people give up some powers to their political representatives in return, the state will protect them.

There is no social contract because it involves the leaders of the Alliance and the bargain was then placed in the constitution but that does not represent a social contract. The social contract did not come into debate until Abdullah Ahmad raised it in 1986 that there was something that was agreed to by a few people in the past that binds future generations. I’ve challenged it.

The whole question on power sharing is very relevant. One needs to spell it out and it must be agreed upon but some leaders still disagree on what it means. Some say the non-Malays agreed to ketuanan Melayu in this so-called social contract but some say non-Malays only agreed to some kind of bargain without conceding their right to liberal democracy, equal rights and justice.

Political parties are using the social contract out of this context and it has no meaning in Malaysia. So that’s why we need a discourse and debate on this. We need to work out a national consensus in figuring out what and where do we go from here and now. We can all agree that something more than a bargain was made when the state was formed but I won’t call it a social contract.


Dr Azmi Sharom, associate professor, law faculty, Universiti Malaya

In the context of the constitution, there is a certain give and take because the constitution provides for special privileges to Malays. In any normal or ordinary constitution, there would not be any racial bias in it. But this was agreed to by the non-Malays so these special privileges is the beginning of the so-called social contract.

However, to a certain extent it is true – the special privileges involves safeguarding the Malay language, the sultanate and Islam on the surface appears to be going against the grain of equality. The non-Malay Malaysians were happy to accept this then. But the idea of give and take does not extend to the concept of Malay supremacy created by political parties, namely Umno.

The original constitution has elements of compromise but that compromise is from the layman’s perspective, the document does not suggest Malay supremacy or mastery. Ketuanan Melayu is a fallacy. I just don’t see the justification for this. The so-called social contract is relevant only to racists and people who want Malaysians to continue to be divided along racial lines.

But I am also uncomfortable with Ungku Aziz’s view that the social contract should be called an economic contract. The society made a compromise and it is not a contract which implies the people are bound to it for life. Citizenship is not about the economy but the society.

Dr Johan Saravanamuttu, visiting researcher, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas), Singapore

It is obviously a term used by political analysts and there is no formal or legal contract. But the 1957 constitution was written based on a considerable amount of negotiations including various ethnic and political groups.

Not all of their demands could have been included therefore when the constitution was agreed upon by all parties after the entire process, for all intents and purposes is the social contract of Malaysians. The constitution incorporated many of these provisions which people have generally learned to accept.

The relevance of this is that the constitution is a document that is historical and represents the agreement by particular political parties at that particular era. The impact in reading beyond the document is that it lays out provisions of a pact that is not meant to be absolutely permanent. After all, the constitution has been amended hundreds of times, it means the conditions are not cast in stone.

On ketuanan Melayu, there is no such thing as ketuanan Melayu. It is a concoction by political entrepreneurs by Umno on promoting Malay supremacy. The constitution does not say anything about Malay supremacy but only on the special privileges such as land and language afforded to them. It is the jaundiced Malay politicians who use it to embed themselves in position or create and perpetuate power for themselves.


Dr Chandra Muzaffar, academician and political scientist

Well, I think that it is true that the social contract doesn’t exist as a physical document which is drafted and sealed or has a label that tells us it is a social contract. What we have is the Merdeka constitution which is an attempt to balance interests between different communities and ethnic interests within a framework for a certain vision of what a nation state is.

It is very clear that the nation state would be called Malaysia and the basis of the state was from a Malay polity that features the Malay monarch, Islam as the religion of the federation and the Malay language.

On the special position of the Malays and indigenous communities is part of the Merdeka constitution, there was a feeling by the Reid commission that the massive accommodation of recent domiciled non-Malays required some sort of protection of the Malay community which was economically weaker than say the Chinese. The special position was a socio-economical condition.

I don’t see ketuanan Melayu as part of the social contract or Merdeka constitution. By accepting the Malay polity, it does not make Malays and non-Malays unequal and it doesn’t make non-Malays second-class citizens.

Ketuanan Melayu is an idea that is an impediment to ethnic relations for the country. It does not mean one race is dominant and another race is subordinate or a master-servant connotation.


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