Monday, March 30, 2009

Bumiputra, Ketuanan Melayu - Still Relevant?

From a modern era viewpoint, the concepts of Bumiputra and Ketuanan Melayu are so wrong.

The concept of a "Bumiputra" race in Malaysia was coined by Tunku Abdul Rahman and has its roots in the recognition of the "special position" of the Malays given by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, in particular Article 153. However, the constitution does not actually use the term "bumiputra", it only contains the definitions of "Malay" and "aborigine", "natives" of Sarawak, and "natives" of Sabah. Thus, there are a number of definitions of "bumiputra" in public use, varying among different institutions, organizations or other government departments and agencies.

According to the book entitled "Buku Panduan Kemasukan ke Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Awam, Program Pengajian Lepasan SPM/Setaraf Sesi Akademik 2007/2008" (Guidebook for entry into public higher learning institutions for SPM/equivalent graduates for academic year 2007/2008), by Student Entry Management under Management Department of Higher Education Institution, Malaysian Higher Education Ministry, Bumiputra are defined as follows depending on the region of origin of the individual applicant student:

Peninsular Malaysia

"If one of the parents is Muslim Malay or Orang Asli as stated in Article 160 (2) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus the child is considered as a Bumiputra"


"If a father is a Muslim Malay or indigenous native of Sabah as stated in Article 160A (6)(a) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus his child is considered as a Bumiputra"


"If both of the parent are indigenous native of Sarawak as stated in Article 160A (6)(b) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus their child is considered as a Bumiputra"

A little bit about the Malays and the special position.

Article 160 defines a Malay as being one who "professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay customs and is the child of at least one parent who was born within the Federation of Malaysia before independence of Malaya on the 31st of August 1957".

The Reid Commission which drafted the Constitution initially proposed that Article 153 expire after 15 years unless renewed by Parliament. This was later struck from the final draft. After the May 13 Incident in 1969, there was an argument within the government concerning whether the special position of the Bumiputras ought to have a sunset clause.

Ismail Abdul Rahman argued that "the question be left to the Malays themselves because ... as more and more Malays became educated and gained self-confidence, they themselves would do away with this 'special position'." Ismail himself viewed the special position as "a slur on the ability of the Malays".

In 1970, however, one member of the Cabinet pronounced that Malay special rights would remain for "hundreds of years to come". Despite calls from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor, Dr.Mahathir bin Mohamad for Malays to depend less on Government handouts and subsidies there is no evidence to show that the special privileges enjoyed by the Bumiputra will be taken away any time soon or at all. On the contrary there has been calls for the privileges to be expanded and extended to cover more areas of their daily lives.

Okay, I think we all can appreciate and understand that all of these came about because of the historical fact that a certain segment of the community started off being somewhat backward. We know that some stuff are written into the Constitution and legalised then so that execution can be implemented openly.

From a modern viewpoint, can we say that it is NOT working out?

Logically, 20 years from 1957, if the restructuring of society has been successful, we would have now being practising meritocracy and perhaps Bangsa Malaysia would have some meaning.

Over 50 years now. C'mon!

Is it not clear that we should change? Except for the 2000 Malays where becoming a millionaire can be possible at the stroke of a pen, the rest of the Malays are not experiencing significant economic changes. Over 50 years? C'mon!

Things are NOT working out!

Today we go out of Malaysia into any countries in the Developed World and we say that we came from Malaysia, a democratic country. We say however 60 percent of our people has special rights to a variety of options like education, economic opportunities, special discount on housing and certain land being reserved among others, in view of them being born of a certain race of the Malaysian people. And they are of a certain religion of which it is nigh impossible to convert out if embraced.

Does it make any sense to anybody? And this is not apartheid?

Apartheid as defined by

An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.

At a stretch, it can be acceptable for affirmative actions to restructure society if need be, if there is a clear plan with a fixed reasonable time frame. A fixed reasonable time frame.

The UMNO elections are just over. Do we see any indications of UMNO and in the broader sense, Barisan Nasional ever going to correct this glaring wrong?

I strongly believe that the government of the day need be changed before the country can be steered sway from this journey of hopelessness. We seriously do not have the luxury of time in this globalized world.

I am not convinced yet that my family and I should not emigrate.

One last thing. If you are not a bumiputra, how do you explain governmental discrimatory policies to your children?

And if you are a bumiputra, do you feel comfortable in explaining governmental discrimatory policies to your children? Do you want to tell them that they are not as good as the other children?

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