Editor’s Note: Political scientist Dr Marzuki Mohamad has aired this view on his Facebook page in response to retired DAP supremo Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang’s latest reiteration that the Federal Constitution does provide for a Malaysian Dream – and not a mono-ethnic dream – in that a non-Malay can be a Malaysian Prime Minister.
For the uninitiated, Dr Marzuki who holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in political science from the Australian National University was the former principal private secretary to eighth premier Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and is a Bersatu member.
THE US is a democracy. The 1776 US Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
This is the origin of the “American Dream”.
But blacks in the US were only accorded the right to vote in 1870 which was 94 years later. Barack Obama became the first black person to become the President of the United States in 2009 which is 233 years after the declaration of independence. Even his mother is white.
In Malaysia, non-Malays do not have to wait that long to get the right to vote. In the 1955 general election which was two years before Merdeka, non-Malays had already gained the right to vote and non-Malay leaders such as Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tun V.T. Sambanthan had been ministers in the federal cabinet since the beginning.
Malaysia is more impressive than the US.
(Note: I do not intend to equate non-Malays in Malaysia with blacks in the US in terms of living standards and historical origins of existence in both countries. I only refer to both in the context of the discourse on the equality of political rights.)
Lim Kit Siang wrote about the “Malaysian Dream”. He wants to see a non-Malay in Malaysia become Prime Minister (PM) in a shorter period than a black person becomes the US president. In the same breath, he denounced the concept of mono-ethnicity (can be understood as Malay dominance or only Malays can be PM).
In the previous decades, DAP did not like Malaysian politics which was said to be “Malay dominance” or dominated by Malays. In view of this Malay dominance factor, DAP regards non-Malays in Malaysia as second-class citizens. This became DAP’s campaign capital in the election to attract non-Malay votes.
DAP’s ideology vs multi-racialism
Yes, Lim Kit Siang is not wrong. The Federal Constitution does not prevent non-Malays from becoming PM.
But the constitution also contains other important matters. For example, Article 153 regarding the responsibility of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) to protect the special position of the Malays and the people of Sabah and Sarawak as well as the legal rights of all races.
This is an important pillar of our country’s multi-racial composition which recognises the interests of Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera communities. The balance between these two is the key to political stability and racial harmony.
But the DAP ideology does not want to recognise this important pillar. The Setapak Declaration of 1967 which forms the basis of DAP’s ideology does not recognise the classification of Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera. The declaration asserts:
“Classifying citizens into Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera, discriminating against citizens in matters of appointments – particularly in the public sector and now increasingly in the private sector – on the grounds of race are hardly calculated, in our views, to strengthen the sense of national consciousness and solidarity in a multi-racial nation”.
No policy to help Bumis under DAP rule?
This means that DAP ideologically opposes the provision of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which grants the YDPA the responsibility to protect the special position of the Malays by providing quotas in public service appointments, granting scholarships and approving business licenses for Bumiputera.
Although DAP leaders say they do not reject Article 153, the ideology contained in the 1967 Setapak Declaration is still affirmed by the party to this day. The DAP website reiterates this statement:
“The Setapak Declaration affirms DAP’s viewpoint that in the process of nation-building, ethnic equality must be made the paramount principle, and it is upon this principle that the separation of citizens into Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera is strongly opposed”.
This means that until today, DAP is still firm with its ideology that rejects the classification of Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera as explained in the Setapak Declaration of 1967. If they do not recognise the existence of the Bumiputera community, then there will be no policy to help the Bumiputera under a government controlled by DAP.
Not to mention if one day – as envisaged by Lim Kit Siang – the PM is from DAP.
In the 1967 Setapak Declaration, DAP also did not recognise the Malays as the majority community while any policy aimed at helping the Malays was perceived by the party as violating the principle of equality.
“The Malays do not constitute a national majority– either do the Chinese nor the Indians, nor anyone else. In other words, any single community in Malaysia by itself is outnumbered by the rest. And thereby hangs the obvious lesson that any attempt to violate the principle of racial equality in Malaysian society must lead to inevitable and catastrophic failure”.
This is unconstitutional. Although Article 8 of the Federal Constitution guarantees equality, it also provides exceptions to matters clearly stated in the constitution such as Article 153. This means that exceptions to the principle of equality in the constitution are also rejected by DAP.
For me, DAP’s ideology regarding equality rights and the rights of Bumiputera/non-Bumiputera is contrary to the Federal Constitution either explicitly or implicitly.
Hence, the issue is not about the right of non-Malays to become PM. The key issue is that anyone from DAP – whether a Malay or non-Malay – is not eligible to be PM as long as the party’s ideology conflicts with the Federal Constitution.
Such is my view. – Dec 2, 2023
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Carousell Malaysia