Friday, October 17, 2008

No place for UMNO in Conference of Rulers' Special Statement

I was a little aghast reading the Special Statement issued by the Conference of Rulers this morning in The Star. Later when I took a closer look, it suddenly dawned on me a sense of frustration and maybe even anger on the part of the Rulers when issuing this document. I have appended below the Special Statement as issued by Bernama.

Read it carefully and you will realise that most of what is being said is being addressed to UMNO.

Firstly, the Rulers are claiming for themselves : "The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia."

A few points to take note of:

1. It is the constitutional role of the Malay Rulers. Nothing mentioned of UMNO or the Government of the day or any political party or NGO.

2. The safeguard of the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness is of the Malay Rulers. No mention is made of Bumiputras, Malays, UMNOPutras or even the indigenous people.

3 The safeguards extended to everyone else, other than the Rulers, that the Rulers now are stamping their constitutional role to safeguarding are : Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia.

So what about the Malays? At this time, it would seem like in this statement the Rulers might have left out the safeguarding of the privileges, protection, rights etc of the Malays from their roles. Why?

Is there an assumption here that the Malays naturally get or gain any privileges or that their special position is ordained somehow? Or is the distinguishing point to be made here is that in their reading the Rulers see themselves as the special ones and everyone else, Malays, Chinese and Indians fall under "other communities"?

I will have to presume that the "special status" of the Malays here arises from some other article in the Consitution. (I am not much into that kind of research and referencing....leave that to the likes of Malik Imtiaz and Haris Ibrahim).

In any case, what is interesting in this claim being made by the Rulers is that it is even mentioned at all with all the emphasis that is found in that statement. For the Rulers to find it necessary to state the obvious, "The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard ......" That is to say, this has nothing to do with UMNO. UMNO, please don't find your raison de tre in assuming for yourself a role that was never meant for you in the first place. UMNO stop hijacking the entire Malay race by assuming for yourself a safeguarding role over the Malay race.

In fact it would seem like the safeguarding role that the Rulers state here extends to the "other communities" which all along we have assumed to mean the communities other than the Malay community. Maybe it is an error that the safeguarding of the Malays is not mentioned. Only the Malay Language and Islam. What if all those special privileges applies, as stated in that statement, only to the Rulers? What if the Rulers intended to put the Malays in their place and have lumped them together with the "other communities"? After all the rulers should know that all who claim to be Malays today are not necessarily descended from those who would have called themselves Malays just a generation ago, let alone two or three generations ago. Therefore, the ties that bind and that give the Rulers their pre-eminent position that derives from the collective acknowledgment and recognition of all those who claim to be Malay today may be suspect! There is probably greater comfort in relying on the "other communities'" acknowledgment, recognition and submission to the Rulers after all.

As for MCA and MIC's claim to be representatives and protectors of the rights of their respective races, maybe they got to re-evaluate that position. As you can see, the Rulers are also stamping their claim to safeguarding "the other communities". So why are MCA, MIC or the other Sabah and Sarawak race based parties needed?

Secondly, The only time reference is made to the Malays, this is what the special statement of the ruler states, "The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than political or factional interests.

Indeed the onus is for the Malays to safeguard what has been promised the Rulers, Islam, Malay as the National Language and the genuine interest of the other communities. No mention is made about them fighting for their own rights or seeking protection of their rights and or privileges. And indeed if they do have rights and privileges that may be found in other articles within the constitution, the Rulers have certainly not mentioned here any willingness to "safeguard these for the Malays". Maybe the so called Malay privileges, rights etc, is a given, understood and accepted and it is totally redundant even talking about it. In which case, fighting for it is equally redundant.

UMNO has positioned itself as the voice of the Malays. UMNO has positioned itself as the defender of the Malay rights. UMNO has positioned itself as the guardians of the resources and the people of Malaysia and more particularly the Malays.

Nowhere in this document do I see even an acknowledgment that UMNO exists or is relevant.

So who do the Rulers Fault?

To give us a glimpse of what has led the Rulers to issue this statement, the statement refers to:

"The actions of certain quarters in disputing and questioning these matters, which formed the primary basis for the formation of Malaysia and are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, had caused provocation and uneasiness among the people.In retaliation, several quarters particularly Malay leaders whether in the government or non-governmental organisations as well as individuals had expressed their dissatisfaction and anger against those who had made the statements and reports and organised the forums.

"Among the reasons identified for these to have occurred is the cursory knowledge of those concerned regarding the historical background as to why these provisions were enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the influence of their attempts to implicate the principles of impartiality and justice without regard for the historical background and social condition of this country. Narrow political interests are also a cause.


Obviously, the Rulers are perturbed by claims and counter-claims being made. UMNO and ultra-Malay nationalists might think that the Rulers are expressing their concern at the constant statements against Malay privileges being made by leaders of other communities. They even suggest that these were provocative and caused uneasiness.

But read that again. In the first sentence in the first paragraph the reference is made to those questioning the Malay privileges. Presumably leaders or "representatives" of other communities. Then the second sentence identifies the opposition taking the retaliatory positions, i.e. the Malay leaders, whether in government or non-government and some individuals. These second lot being Malays of course.

But the second paragraph is an indictment of those who have run fowl by making statements after only a cursory knowledge of the circumstances leading to these being enshrined in the constitution. And who else can "influence of their attempts to implicate the principles of impartiality and justice without regard for the historical background and social condition of this country. Narrow political interests are also a cause"?

There is something certainly being said by the Rulers here that might suggest that the premise upon which the UMNO led Barisan Nasional runs the country is wrong. If the rulers are going to redeem for themselves the role of safeguarding the nation in its various forms at this time, and that the BN, by their majority, was presumed to have been assigned to carry out that role on their behalf, the re-statement of what is obvious should not be read just callously. Is there a warning here that UMNO should consider?



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Conference Of Rulers Issues Special Statement

KUALA TERENGGANU, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The 215th meeting of the Conference of Rulers, held at the Istana Maziah here, issued a special press statement on several matters enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Following is the press statement in full issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah.

"Press Statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal on the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers regarding the special privileges, position, eminence or greatness of the Malay Rulers, Islam, Malay as the national language, the special position of the Malays, and genuine interests of the other communities in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

"The Malay Rulers who attended the meeting of the Conference of Rulers conferred on the issuing of this special joint press statement Thursday.

"The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia.

"The actions of certain quarters in disputing and questioning these matters, which formed the primary basis for the formation of Malaysia and are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, had caused provocation and uneasiness among the people.In retaliation, several quarters particularly Malay leaders whether in the government or non-governmental organisations as well as individuals had expressed their dissatisfaction and anger against those who had made the statements and reports and organised the forums.

"Among the reasons identified for these to have occurred is the cursory knowledge of those concerned regarding the historical background as to why these provisions were enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the influence of their attempts to implicate the principles of impartiality and justice without regard for the historical background and social condition of this country. Narrow political interests are also a cause.

"Unless this phenomenon is arrested immediately, it can lead to disunity and racial strife that can undermine the peace and harmony which has all this while brought progress, development and success to the nation.

"As such, it is necessary for the Conference of Rulers to emphasise and remind all quarters of these constitutional provisions besides giving emphasis to the assurance of safeguarding the genuine rights of other communities.It has to be emphasised that each provision in the Federal Constitution has undergone the process of discussion, consideration, consultancy, sacrifice and compromise of the highest degree for what has been championed, discussed, considered, benefited from as well as agreed to by all quarters concerned, until the realisation of the provisions in the Federal Constitution which are known as the Social Contract.It is not proper to dispute and question this Social Contract and more so to subject it to a review or change because it is the primary basis of the formation of Malaysia.Therefore, it is appropriate for the Malay Rulers to remind that there should never be any attempt ever to test and challenge issues related to the Social Contract.

"Truly, the leaders of the pre-independence era were insightful -- far-sighted. They brought along with them the Malay Rulers for the negotiations to claim independence. The Institution of the Rulers was retained and legally enshrined in the constitution of an independent Malaysia.The Institution of the Rulers was accorded eminence, was positioned at the apex of Government, as the head of the country and the states, as a protective umbrella, ensuring impartiality among the citizens.The Institution of Rulers takes on the role of being a check-and-balance factor to untangle complications, if any.

"The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than political or factional interests.

"Non-Malays should not harbour any apprehension or worry over their genuine rights because these rights are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and provisions of the state constitutions of Malaysia contained in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

"It is hoped that with this emphasis, all confusion among the people regarding these matters can be contained and an atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual respect can continue to exist among the people for the maintenance of order in the country

3 Comments:

At October 19, 2008 at 1:16 AM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Paul,
I posted a question for you on The People's Parliament but I thought I would post if here again since that's Haris' blog.
I actually think that that special statement was actually a slap on PR's face rather than UMNO, or maybe I should say lesser on UMNO's.


Daniel Says:
October 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm
Paul,
I have gone to your blog and read your thought. You focus on only a small part of the statement and posted your interpretation.
However, you did not touch on the Social Contract part. Can you also comment on this? I don’t have a good feeling when I read this part.

 
At October 19, 2008 at 11:55 AM, Anonymous SH Tan said...

Paul:

The COR statement on special rights et all is unfortunately open for interpretation. One can interprete it both ways, whichever one wants to read it. I am deeply disappointed to see words like "bumi" and "non-bumi" used in the statement and less, if at all, "Malaysians" being used. It still has the "they" and "us" tone and none of the "we Malaysians" message that I had hoped for. Maybe I had misssed out something.

 
At October 19, 2008 at 4:09 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

what's the point of showing my comment here if you are not ready to response?
I saw you as a man of wisdom, but now i am having none of these.
This is the last message from me.

 

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