Voters ‘spoilt for choice’ come GE14

Joe Fernandez
Umno’s “ketuanan Melayu” and “nambikei” have to reckon with Malaysian Malaysia, “ketuanan rakyat”, “ketuanan Islam”, “makkal sakti”, “urumai” and Borneo rights.
COMMENT  Umno’s “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay political supremacy) past has caught up with it, to haunt its future. It has since added “nambikei” (Tamil for trust), in appealing to the Tamils in particular, in a bid to soften the harsh rhetoric and polemics (Umno’s) on “ketuanan Melayu”.

Patently, the battle lines have been drawn for GE14 between Umno and its allies and DAP and parties linked to it.

It was not until the watershed GE12 election in 2008, that DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia saw a resurgence. It suffered a setback since 13 May 1969 which subsequently saw the emergence of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) from the ashes of the ruling Alliance Party.

The opposition took five states — Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan — in 2008. In fact, Terengganu fell to the opposition earlier in 2004. The rest is history.

De facto PKR leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has pushed for “ketuanan rakyat” (the people’s supremacy) as his party’s ideology. He sees Umno’s “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay political supremacy) as euphemism for control by a small group of people in the corridors of power in Putrajaya.

In short, the people have lost their sovereignty to a handful of people in power.

Not to be outdone, PAS is pushing for “ketuanan Islam” (Islamic supremacy), a copycat version of “ketuanan Melayu”.

Human rights advocates in Sabah and Sarawak want Borneo rights.

They see the Federal Government as being non-compliant on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), the basis for Sabah and Sarawak to be in Federation with Malaya.

Two key arguments on non-compliance stand out:

Article 2, through an amendment on 13 July 1976, reduced Sabah and Sarawak from their status as equal to Malaya, to the 12th and 13th states in the Federation of Malaya, now known as Malaysia but not the Malaysia in MA63.

Article 160 defines Federation, among others, as that set up by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.

There’s no such Agreement.

What exists is the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948, reinforced by the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957.

Wither MA63! The human rights advocates in Sabah and Sarawak see Putrajaya as having no legitimacy in Borneo.

Hindraf, the NGO born after Everest hero Moorthy’s claimed conversion to Islam on his deathbed, has been rooting for “makkal sakthi” (Tamil for people power) and “urumai” (Tamil for equal rights?) especially since 25 Nov 2007. That was the day 100, 000 people took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur, in a demonstration of makkal sakthi, to demand urumai.

Briefly, Hindraf wants Article 153 of the Federal Constitution gone. Alternatively, based on Article 160, it wants Malays excluded from Article 153 and only the Orang Asal retained.

Article 153 enshrined a “special position” for Orang Asal and Malays by way of a “reasonable proportion” in four areas viz. CISO or intake into the civil service, intake into institutions of higher learning owned by the government and training opportunities, scholarships, and opportunities to do business.

Article 160, among others, defines Malay. It’s an English word from malai, Tamil for hill, and was first codified by the British as an administrative term for various Muslim groups in Malaya who communicated with each other in Malay.

In reality, when Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister (1981 to 2003), he went beyond Article 153 and virtually imposed a caste system of sorts on the country.

Upward social mobility became virtually impossible under Mahathir’s “sapu bersih” (clean sweep) approach which saw the Malay-led government sector dominating the economy and politics.
Joe Fernandez was previously Sabah correspondent for malaysiakini.

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