Tuesday, 15 July 2008

PART II: Putting Malaysian History in Proper Perspectives: The Social Contract

Read here in Malaysiakini

Read here PART I:"SOCIAL CONTRACT" - A Class Perspectives

Related article: Read here former PM Dr. Mahathir's ETHNOCENTRIC view of the history of Malaysia

(Continuation) PART II : "SOCIAL CONTRACT" - A Class Perspectives


Kua Kia Soong
(DR KUA KIA SOONG is a Director of Suaram. He is the author of the book, "May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian riots of 1969" )

EXCERPTS: Read here for more

After Independence in 1957, the Malayan economy was largely unchanged from its colonial pattern showing a great regional disparity - an urbanised largely non-Malay west coast and a neglected Malay peasant economy along the east coast.

Poverty was blamed on the Chinese middlemen rather than the structure of neo-colonial exploitation and the exploitation by large landowners and the feudal aristocracy.

There were two Malay economic congresses in 1965 and 1968 which called for greater state intervention to assist the development of Malay capital. Rida, Mara and Bank Bumiputra all grew during the sixties.

My latest publication maintains that the race riots of May 13, 1969 actually camouflaged a coup d’etat by the then emergent Malay state capitalist class against the traditional Malay aristocratic class headed by the Tunku and that the riots were orchestrated by elements within Umno.

The police and the army were not impartial – Razak met with the Chiefs of the Army and Police soon after the riots broke out.

Tunku (Abdul Rahman) has been quoted as saying:
“You know Harun was one of those – Harun, Mahathir, Ghazali Shafie – who were all working with Razak to oust me…”
The ideology of the new Malay ruling class is based on ‘bumiputraism’ and this has been imprinted into:
  1. the New Economic Policy (NEP),

  2. the New Education Policy and

  3. the National Cultural Policy which were raised barely a week after May 13, 1969.
Through the NEP, the interests of the Malay capitalist class have expanded immensely.

The Federal Constitution and "Quota System"

Article 153 was amended in 1971 (while the country was still under Emergency decree) to introduce the so-called “quota system” which has become a carte blanche for gross racial discrimination in education policy.

The implementation of the quota system has evoked this comment from Visu Sinnadurai, Professor of Comparative Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya in the 1980s:

“...Article (8A) makes it clear that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can only order a reservation of a proportion of such places for the Malays. It would therefore mean that the quota system is applicable only on a faculty basis and more importantly every faculty or institution should reserve places for students of EVERY race.

NO faculty or institution under this provision could cater for the Malays alone to the exclusion of the other races

It should be pointed out that though these changes were made purportedly under the direction of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the writer is UNABLE to trace any such Order being made by His Majesty nor does there seem to be evidence of any such order being gazetted.

It appears that such a directive has been made by the OFFICIALS of the Ministry of Education.

This lack of notification has caused some uncertainty especially in the validity of the implementation of some of the policies. It is not clear whether the quota system is made applicable on an institutional basis or on the basis of the total number of places available in a particular course of study of all the universities in the country…

To apply the quota system on the total number of places available in any particular university will again be a WRONG interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution.

Article 153 (8A) does NOT authorise the administrators of any university to refuse admission to any student of a particular race.

It only allows a proportion of the places to be reserved for Malay students.

On such a reasoning, the constitutionality of institutions like the Asasi Sains in the University of Malaya or Kursus Sains matriculasi Sidang Akademik of the Universiti Sains Malaysia which cater ONLY for Bumiputra students
is doubtful...

Furthermore, the Constitution of the University of Malaya expressly PROHIBITS discrimination on grounds of race for the admission of any student to any faculty or institution of the university.

In this context too, the constitutionality of other institutions which admit students of a particular race only to the exclusion of other races is also doubtful as it may violate the equality provision of Article."

From the above, it is clear that the question of the constitutionality of the quota system as it has been practised since 1971 especially in totally Bumiputera institutions has NEVER been tested.

UMNO's Total Disregard For Other Races

We know what the original intentions of the “Malay Special Privileges” provision in the Merdeka Constitution were. To maintain that it is a carte blanche for ALL manner of discrimination based on the Bumiputera/ non-Bumiputera divide is certainly straining credibility.

  1. By 1990, the realities of the racially discriminatory quota system in education were as follows:

    • An average of 90 per cent of loans for polytechnic certificate courses,

    • 90 per cent of scholarships for Diploma of Education courses,

    • 90 per cent of scholarships/loans for degree courses taken in the country,

    • almost ALL scholarships/loans for degree courses taken overseas

    were given to Bumiputeras.

    • Regarding the enrolment of students in residential schools throughout the Eighties, 95 per cent of these were Bumiputera.

    • The enrolment in MARA’s Lower Science College, Maktab Sains MARA was almost 100 per cent Bumiputera throughout the Eighties.

    • Under Mahathir, we have seen the transfer from STATE to PRIVATE Malay capital under his privatisation programme and the proletarianisation of the Malay peasantry.

    • Corporate wealth has spread among Malays through release of shares from profitable state enterprises into unit trusts for bumiputeras.
    The Milking by the Umnoputeras

    The Umnoputeras have been the best placed to take advantage of these opportunities.
    • In 1986, for example, 4 per cent of ASN holders owned more than 70 per cent of the ASN, while 80 per cent owned less than 500 shares each.

    • Cronies were chosen to head Umno-linked corporations and to benefit from controversial privatisation projects.
    In recent years and especially since Abdullah Ahmad’s infamous speech in 1986, there have been vain attempts by the ruling party to rationalise this racist notion of ‘Malay dominance’ (Ketuanan Melayu) with the so-called “social contract” at Independence.

    UMNO's Fascist Tactics of Intimidation

    Since the racial violence of 1969, there has been a trend toward FASCIST methods to INTIMIDATE any challenge to this status quo.
    1. In 1987 during the build-up to Operation Lalang when the rally organised by Umno displayed racist and blatantly seditious banners;

    2. In 1996 when a mob from the ruling party violently disrupted the Second Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor;

    3. In 1999, they threatened the staff of the Selangor Assembly Hall;

    4. In 2001, when six people were killed and over a hundred mainly ethnic Indians were injured in Kampong Medan;

    5. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, when the Umno Youth Chief waved the keris at the Umno general assembly to flaunt ‘Malay dominance’.
    Conclusion: Non-Racial Alternatives

    Despite the compromises made to civil liberties by the British colonial power under the 1957 Federal Constitution, we should still abide by that Independence Agreement rather than its subsequent amendments.

    • Our fundamental liberties are inscribed in that Federal Constitution which confers upon EVERY citizen basic rights we all enjoy as citizens.

    • The Malaysian Judiciary is the interpreter of the Malaysian Constitution.

    • As far as we know, extraneous concepts such as ‘social contract’ and ‘bumiputera’ CANNOT be found in the Constitution.
    The very idea of 'Malay dominance' is REPUGNANT to a civilized world united against racism and racial discrimination.

    The abuse of the quota system ever since the 1971 constitutional amendment remains to be challenged in court.

    Racism and racial discrimination have dominated Malaysian society for FAR TOO LONG.

    Now that the Malay ruling class already controls the commanding heights of the Malaysian economy, it is high time for a new consensus based on non-racial factors such as class or sector in need to justify affirmative action.

    Any ethnic community that has undergone class differentiation can hardly qualify for positive discrimination. This applies to the Malay, Chinese, Indian and even the Iban and Kadazan communities.

    Affirmative action may be justified for communities such as the Orang Asli and the Penans which are still fairly homogeneous.

    It is time for all Malaysians who hunger for peace and freedom to OUTLAW racism and racial discrimination from Malaysian society once and for all and to build real unity based on adherence to human rights, equality and the interests of all the Malaysian masses.

    We require non-racial institutions, including:

    1. A Race Relations Act and an Equal Opportunities Commission to combat racism, racialism, and racial discrimination in all Malaysian institutions;

    2. Elected local government so that problems of housing, schools, etc. can be solved in non-racial ways;

    3. An Independent Broadcasting Authority which is fair to all ethnic communities in Malaysia

    4. Government policies aimed at reducing income disparity between the rich and poor regardless of race, religion, gender, disability or political affiliation;

    5. Special assistance based on need and NOT on race;

    6. A means-tested sliding scale of education grants and loans for all who qualify to enter tertiary institutions regardless of race, religion or gender.

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