Debate : Special rights or special position for Malays under the Constitution? – KJ vs HI?

Posted on November 27, 2014


many-colours-one-dream923089_576322912401152_1069880995_nSince August, this year, whenever I have had the opportunity to speak and share, especially with Malays, I have made it a point to share two points that I feel Malays really need to hear and give thought to.

First, that this whole business of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ violently conflicts with the final sermon of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) at Arafat.

There is, in my view, therefore, no room in Islam for any race supremacist notions.

Second, that there is nothing in the Federal Constitution that supports this perennial claim by Perkasa, Isma and the likes to there being special rights thereunder for the Malays.

Special position, under Article 153, yes, but not special rights.

But this special position is not just of the Malays, but also of the indigenous of Sabah and Sarawak.

Article 153  does not stop there.

It also speaks of the legitimate interests of the other communities.

All of which is placed under the watch of the Agung to safeguard.

Article 153 does not create rights for any one community, but rather places a duty on the Agung to ensure that government policy and action, particularly with regard to affirmative action, do not impinge on the position of the Malays and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of the other communities.

So imagine my pleasant surprise yesterday when I read a report in Malaysiakini that Khairy Jamaluddin said that in the run up to, and as part of the agreement that led to independence, the Malays agreed to citizenship being conferred on non-Malays and that in return, the non-Malays “were prepared to accept the special position of the Malays, the Malay language as the national language and the sovereignty of Malay rulers”.

Never mind the correctness of all else that he said, but was this finally an admission by someone in government that it was ‘special position’ and not ‘special rights’ under Article 153?

I scoured the other news portals for confirmation if this was in fact what KJ said.

Rakyat times reported that KJ wanred the non-Malays not to question the special rights of Malays in the country.

MalayMailonline reports that he asked “Why are there those who ask for the Malay special privileges to be stopped?”.

Hmm, not quite the same as special position, me thinks.

He must have spoken in Malay, so could it be that the true purport of what he said might have been lost in translation?

I looked at the BM report in Malaysianinsider.

He appears to have spoken of ‘kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu’, but then refers to the same as ‘hak kami’.

A little confusion and nothing more, perhaps?

Malaysianinsider’s headline, “Bukan Melayu jangan cabar ‘hak istimewa’ kami, kata Khairy”, gives his speech a different complexion altogether.

As I mulled through the various media reports on his speech, I remembered a morning in April, 2010, when KJ moderated a discussion that involved Wong Chin Huat and myself.

The topic : Racial & religious harmony : Understanding the “Allah” issue.

Tough issues were discussed and , as all present that day will testify, in the most cordial, friendly and civil fashion.


If you want to read about that event, click the photo.

That event got me thinking.

Why not a debate between KJ and I?

Special rights or special position?

If we both agree that it is only the latter, we all have tea and go home.

If, however, we differ, then we get it on, as we did in 2010, in the most cordial, friendly and civil fashion.

KJ, you game?

Your choice of moderator, KJ.

Even your new found friend, Dr M, if you wish.

If you people would like to see this happen, tweet KJ or message him on Facebook and let him know this invitation is floating in cyberspace, awaiting his acceptance.