Monday, May 30, 2011



'It's like reading the constitution based on Article 153 alone, while ignoring every other clause. And many Malays seem to buy this idea.' David Dass: It is reassuring for Malaysians to have outstanding law academics like Abdul Aziz Bari and Azmi Sharom speak up on issues affecting the nation. We may not agree with all of their views but they bring scholarship and intelligence to the public discourse. Views expressed by people like Pembela's Yusri Abdullah, Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali, Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria and now Gaps leave us gasping in horror and incredulity, and we are fortunate to have these views off set by the learned opinion of these experts. Positions taken by the so-called champions of Malays and Islam are expressed as if we are all engaged in a zero-sum game where the winner takes all. That is not how a nation is built and how a civilisation advances. Gaps is wrong in their interpretation of the constitution. The constitution does not say that non-Malays will not be given scholarships. It specifically says that Malays will be entitled to special assistance to secure their position in the country and some of the ways would be through scholarships and quotas for civil service appointments. One must remember the context in which these provisions were negotiated and agreed upon. The non-Malays were then about equal in number to the Malays. The Malays were mainly rural dwellers and did not have the same access to English language schools that the more urban Chinese and some Indians had. And the fear was that the Malays, without protection, would be excluded from everything. These provisions were not meant to exclude the non-Malays. It was to address the handicap the rural Malays faced. Groups like Perkasa, Pembela and now Gaps will have to face up to the fact that non-Malays are equal tax-paying citizens of Malaysia.

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