Hornbill Unleashed

July 2, 2014

Why is a law that promotes equality and fair play deemed anti-Islam?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Sonia Ramachandran

The three “unity bills” scheduled to replace the Sedition Act include an anti-discriminatory legislation (draft National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill 2014) which brings into contention “Bumiputera” concessions and quotas in business and whether these would fall under the purview of the intended Acts of Parliament.

National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) law and policy committee deputy chairman Lim Chee Wee reportedly said the government must show such discrimination was protected under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, or that the discrimination was “fair” because it was reasonable and necessary.

Islamic Renaissance Front chairman and director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon, cited the principle of equality espoused by Article 8 of the Federal Constitution as the basis for saying these “privileges” or “advantages” were never meant to be permanent.

“Article 8 of the Constitution lays down the principle of equality. Any limit to Article 8, the advantages given to the indigenous people, was meant to be a stop-gap measure to aid the economically disadvantaged. It was not meant to be perpetual,” Ahmad Farouk told theantdaily.

Lim had said anything outside the ambit of Article 153 had to be justified by Clause 9.

Article 153 states: “It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

In explaining this, Universiti Malaya law faculty associate professor Dr Azmi Sharom in his column in 2010 wrote that affirmative action is not a Malay right.

“Article 153 does not endow a right. What it does is to merely give government the power to take affirmative action despite the overarching ideal of equality which is enshrined in Article 8 of the Constitution.

“To support this contention, we see that Article 8 clearly states that all citizens in this country are equal except for situations specifically provided for in the Constitution. Those ‘specific provisions’ are found in Article 153 and there are not many of them. They include the power to establish quotas for the civil service, permits and licences, scholarships and education.

“Therefore, anything other than these areas should not be subjected to affirmative action,” Azmi wrote.

Article 153(9) states that nothing in this Article shall empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of reservations for Malays and natives of any of the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Azmi went on to say that the way current discourse is going, it seemed that even the implementation of Article 153 is not to be questioned at all.

In almost the same vein as Ahmad Farouk, he wrote: “This is surely wrong based both on the meaning of the Constitution as well as the principle held by the founding fathers that Article 153 was an unfortunate but necessary aberration from the ideals of equality and that it was to be used not in perpetuity.”

Of course, Lim’s contention brought about an immediate backlash with Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin urging the government to ensure laws replacing the Sedition Act retain elements that protect the interest of the Bumiputera community.

Muslim groups also hit out at the NUCC over the bills, claiming that the proposed laws were drafted by “Islamophobes” on the council who are “anti-Malay and anti-Islam”.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also reportedly said that the NUCC’s proposed laws would lead to meritocracy at the expense of the Malay majority which benefits from decades-long affirmative action policies.

On June 24, Lim had been asked if action could be taken against the government for reserving a Bumiputera quota, for example, in the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) construction project, to which he answered: “It’s possible.”

In August 2013, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd had said that 30 per cent of the MRT construction packages were reserved for Bumiputera contractors as part of the government’s “national agenda”.

On June 26, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali called for Petronas chief executive officer Tan Seri Shamsul Azhar Abbas to resign over his statement that the country’s oil and gas revenue does not “belong to the Bumiputera”.

Does the “national agenda” only involve Bumiputeras? Are the other races in the country not part of the nation?

Why is a law that promotes equality and fair play deemed anti-Islam?

Aren’t the huge numbers of Muslim intellectuals in the country and the numerous top scholars who excel in their academic and professional lives proof enough that the Bumiputeras in the country are more than capable of making it on their own without “additional help” from the government?

What’s the point of having an anti-discrimination law that actually discriminates?


  1. I believe that in starting education from the kindergarten level in the rural areas for the young children using BM, not English, as medium of instruction, is to discriminate in favour of Malays. While it does (perhaps) some good, the overall result will be bad. Those benefitting from this form of positive discrimination might end up too dependent, and never could excel without help. That might explain why after article 153 has been in the statute since 1970 (after the riot of 1969) and until today there is still need to help the Malays. I am sure people can do better if the competition, and education, are open.

    And surely it would be better if the students are taught in English as medium of instruction, especially in Sarawak following the provision in the constitution whereby English remains the official language of the State as in the Malaysia Agreement 1963. That will put everybody on equal starting point. By making Malay as medium of instruction, and including for teaching of “English”, those whose mother-tongue isn’t “Malay” will need some effort to start while those whose mother’s language is Malay will be at ease at least in initially understanding the language spoken by their teachers.

    The above explains why we have in this country 2-systems of education: one in Bahasa and the other the Chinese Schools in Mandarin. This 2-systems in place put our young people in two distinct .stream of moulding eh mind of the young. So when they grow old naturally we have two sets of mentality in the society. Why can’t we follow Singapore: in school teach all the languages but maintain English as a must-pass subject.?

    Furthermore looking at the textbooks of subject taught in schools these days, especially history subject, it is obvious, given the frequent changes in the content of these history books, that there exist of elements of “guiding” the young mind to Malaya-biased historical philosophy on the part of the writers of these historical events and or development, and on the part of those who make these books as textbooks for students in our schools. Under such system the young minds of students are not free, or encouraged, to think outside the box, sort of. Perhaps this development is due to a perception that “everything is/should be for building and strengthening “Tanah Melayu” which used to comprise Malaya only.

    This begs the question: “where is 1-Malaysia going towards?” Surely everybody should aim towards a nation as we know it in the past, a multi-racial country, where the people of mixed races and religion are building toward a united society where everybody is equal before the law.

    Alas with the present disconcerting trends, from every angle now, a mixed feeling is ever present that this Nation might not make it down the road as a Nation our forefathers had thought it should be leading toward.

    Of course the people can bring about changes for the better, can we or should we?

    Comment by Anek — July 3, 2014 @ 2:47 PM | Reply

  2. It because all the corrupted Malays in the country are Muslim leaders from UMNO Baru and Malay officials in PDRM, MACC, AGD and the Judiciary.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — July 2, 2014 @ 7:32 PM | Reply

  3. Islam or religion is just a tool for them to manipulate to their favor. So is racism and the rural poor.

    Comment by Sharpshooter — July 2, 2014 @ 1:02 PM | Reply

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